Scottish health boards and councils are at risk of “complacency” on food allergies after new figures showed that the vast majority did not provide any training courses for the public.
Research conducted by the Scottish Conservatives found that 12 of 14 health boards and 25 of 32 councils have not run any dedicated courses.
Half of local authorities also reported that they have not carried out any food allergy courses for staff beyond basic induction training and 26 held no sessions for businesses beyond inspection visits.
The figures also revealed that half of Scotland’s health boards provided no dedicated training on the subject for their own staff.
The findings follow an announcement by the UK Government that it will legislate to force food businesses to include full ingredients labelling on all pre-packaged products. Ministers took action after the death of Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, who suffered an allergic reaction to a Pret A Manger baguette.
Scottish Conservative MP Kirstene Hair has campaigned on the issue following concerns raised by a family in her constituency of Angus.
Ethan McColgan, who is 15, suffers from a severe nut allergy. He is one of an estimated two million people across the UK who have food allergies.
Ms Hair said; “These figures suggest a risk of complacency on the part of Scottish health boards and councils when it comes to food allergies.
“There was a huge amount of media coverage on this following the horrendous case of Natasha Ednan-Laperouse.
“But public bodies must also be pro-active in getting the safety message across to members of the public, to local businesses in the food industry – and indeed to their own staff.
“The figures also expose a lack of consistency among health boards and local authorities across the country, which suggests there is no clear national strategy to tackle this vital issue.
“Sufferers like Ethan in my constituency of Angus to be extremely careful about what they eat, particularly if they are in a restaurant or café.
“One of the primary concerns is around food labelling, and I welcomed the recent UK Government decision to enact ‘Natasha’s Law’ to improve the amount of information provided on labels for pre-packaged food.
“However, much more can be done to raise awareness of this issue among the general public and particularly those who sell and serve food.
“I hope these figures will act as a wake-up call for the SNP government to ensure our health boards and councils are doing everything they can.”
Notes to Editors
See attached for spreadsheet with all responses from Scottish councils and health boards
The UK Government has announced it will introduce new legislation on food labelling
Jo McColgan is the mother of Ethan and an Angus-based campaigner on food allergies