Changes are afoot……..

Changes Ahead


As of the 13th December of this year, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) will be changing the current allergen labelling rules. Hooray!

Here is a summary of the information provided by the FSA

This should make life easier for those that suffer from food allergies not only when it comes to checking labels on pre-packed food but from this date you will also be able to check foods without any packaging. What is also good news is that many businesses are already starting to make changes to how they label allergens on their products ahead of the deadline.

Under the new rules, much of the focus is on highlighting and emphasising the 14 main allergens (mentioned in yesterday’s Itchy Scratchy post) on the food label; particularly the ingredients list.  This should make it much easier to see the allergen without the need for a microscope.

Food businesses can choose what method they want to use.  For example they might list them in bold:

INGREDIENTS: Water, Carrots, Onions, Red
Lentils (4.5%) Potatoes, Cauliflower, Leeks,
Peas, Cornflour, Wheatflour, Salt, Cream,
Yeast Extract, Concentrated Tomato Paste,
Garlic, Sugar, Celery Seed, Vegetable Oil,
Herb and Spice, White Pepper, Parsley.

INGREDIENTS: Water, Carrots, Onions, Red
Lentils (4.5%) Potatoes, Cauliflower, Leeks,
Peas, Cornflour, Wheatflour, Salt, Cream,
Yeast Extract, Concentrated Tomato Paste,
Garlic, Sugar, Celery Seed, Vegetable Oil
(sunflower), Herb and Spice, White Pepper,

Other types of emphasis may include writing the allergens in italics, underlined or highlighted words.

What is useful to know however is that with this change to the food label, apparently there will be no additional statement that says ‘contains x’ allergen.  Now I am not sure why this is  – they seem to want to redirect everyone to the ingredient list but I think they could have kept this statement.

The voluntary ‘Contains gluten’ statements that some businesses currently use will be phased out. You will need to look for the cereals containing gluten. For example wheat, rye, and barley will be emphasised within the ingredients list. Again, I think this is a mistake.


Also, bear in mind that some products (such as tinned or dried food) have a long shelf life. It’s possible that you could see both types of labelling (the new and the old) being used on these types of products for a couple of years after December 2014.
It is important to always check the ingredients list for information about allergens.


Currently, foods purchased without packaging or upon a customer’s request, in supermarkets, delis, cafes and restaurants, don’t have to provide information you need about food allergens.  From December, information on any of the 14 allergens used as ingredients will need to be provided for foods sold without packaging or wrapped on site.  This information could be written down on a chalk board or chart, or provided orally by a member of staff (but I am less confident about this final option; I think many could fall through the net here)


Where the specific allergen information is not provided upfront, clear signposting to where this information could be obtained must be provided.These rules will only cover information about major allergens intentionally used as ingredients. They do not cover allergens present following accidental contact / contamination.


If buying food online, the website must give information about their products that will help you choose items that don’t contain the food you need to avoid. This information might not always be up to date though, so always check the ingredients list or label or speak an advisor every time you order or have food delivered.

If you are allergic to a food that is not on the regulatory list of 14, it may not be included on the allergen information provided.

If in doubt, speak to someone who can advise you. However, as this information does not need to be provided at present, be aware that the person serving you might not actually know what is in the foods.

Don’t take risks if you or they aren’t sure.

I hope you found this helpful!


How to eat healthily without breaking the bank

I am sat in the car on holiday and in true British fashion, it’s raining cats and dogs……..My son is asleep in the back so I am taking advantage of a bit of r and r…….I have just read the British Heart Foundation reported over 1/3 of people in the UK can’t afford to eat healthily. In my mind this is no surprise at all – I have had a good rant at supermarket BOGOF offers before (one of my early posts called the real cost of BOGOF’s) but this is not the only reason for eating to much cheap, processed stuff.

Now I must make a statement here, that being on holiday relieves me of any responsibility to eat healthily. I very much enjoyed my cornish pasty, fish and chips and clotted cream fudge at the seaside (not quite all in one go!) thank you 😉

So here is my list of suggestions on how to eat more healthy and not break the bank :

1. Don’t be a food snob. I admit I was…..but I’ve been converted!  Aldi and Lidl offer great quality food at very cheap prices. The fruit and veg especially! If I had been shopping at these stores since they arrived in the UK I probably would have saved enough money to go on a luxury holiday by now! I really cannot taste the difference between the expensive brands and the ‘I’ve never heard of that make before’ brand so wish I had moved camps ages ago. The fruit and veg look no different, you just have to chop them up yourself 😉

2. Pick your moment to go shopping. Get your pick of the reduced section (meat,  fish,  fruit n veg – don’t go near the ready meals!) by going shopping an hour or so before they close, especially before a bank holiday, the shops have to get rid of it so practically give it away 🙂

3. Plan your meals for the week and then write a shopping list. That way you are less tempted to throw whatever looks tempting into your trolley and just buy what you need. Plus you can ensure you eat a range of foods over the week so get your quota of fish, lean meat, rice, pasta, potatoes and different vegetables etc.

4. Don’t ever go shopping when you are hungry. This is a BIG MISTAKE!  You lose all sense of rationale and you’ll only end up with junk. Trust me I know!

5. Give yourself rules when the cupboards get low. My husband and I take it in turns to rustle up dinner when we are getting towards the end of the week. We are not allowed to buy anything to supplement or accompany our meal. This suits our competitive natures and we have had alot of fun. I think only once (when my husband cooked) it was inedible so don’t knock it until you’ve tried it!

6. Invest in a breadmaker. I bought one last October and without a doubt it is the best gadget I have ever bought! We use ours at least every other day and I am pretty sure we’ve got our money back already. A 750g loaf only costs about 40p to make and what’s even better, you can show off you made it yourself, people will be so impressed! You also know exactly what’s in it – you can control the salt and there will be far fewer additives and the smell as it bakes!………and you just can’t beat the taste of warm, fresh-out-of-the-‘oven’ bread mmmmm 🙂

7. Cook with more veggies! Protein, especially meat is expensive so bulk out your meals with nutritious vegetables that will make your dinner tasty and satisfying and your meals will go further.

8. Batch cook. When you are making a meal,  particularly if it’s a one pot wonder,  double the quantities, portion it up and stick it in the freezer. That way you’ll always have a fall back plan so you’re less likely to get that takeaway menu out the kitchen drawer. It also helps if everyone in the family eats the same thing.

9. Don’t automatically throw away your leftovers. Think how you can reuse them and make a new dinner – see tip 5! Soup is always a winner. Just chuck it in the pot and play soup roulette 😉 It also really makes a difference if you watch the portion sizes so you don’t have to waste food unnecessarily.

10. Take a packed lunch to work. I know this can be a tricky one. Who has time to make their lunch in the morning. Well I don’t either so I do it the night before……or I ask my husband very, very nicely and I am lucky enough that he will make mine. I take leftovers or homemade bread / sandwiches with some soup roulette. I bet if you added up how much you spent on bought lunches per week,  per month and per year you would be shocked!

11. One of the main reasons why people eat a lot of processed food (apart from the low cost) is that we simply don’t make the time to cook and now we seem to have forgotten how to cook. My last suggestion is ask someone you know who is a good cook to help you out or teach yourself! A good way is to get a bunch of friends together and cook together. Why not have a simple cooking night when you can make a main course and dessert each. You can set the rules so it’s healthy and support each other in healthy eating. You’ll be on ‘Come Dine With Me’ in no time!

That’s it for me now but I’d be really interested to see what ideas you have!  Comments on a postcard please 🙂

This is an interesting article How to eat healthily on £1 a day which shows you CAN eat cheaply so it’s worth a read if you need some inspiration!