Allergy UK, the leading patient charity for millions of people living with allergic conditions, is appealing to shoppers to think about those that need ‘Free From’ foods to feed their families. The charity is receiving reports that shoppers are leaving ‘Free From’ fixtures empty as they buy up alternatives such as oat milk and gluten free bread when standard products are temporarily sold out, leaving people who need these products empty handed.
A mother of a young child with an allergy to cow’s milk has told the charity that she could not buy the oat milk her child needed because the shelves had been cleared. Despite reassurances from government and supermarkets, people are ‘bulk buying’ on a huge scale and this is impacting on people like this mother who need ‘Free From’ products to feed their children. They do not have the luxury of an alternative – a food allergy means complete avoidance of the allergen and they rely on certain ‘Free From’ products to keep their children safe from reactions that can be serious and even fatal.
Carla Jones, CEO of Allergy UK says “Of course we understand how anxious people are in the current circumstances. We are all living through unprecedented times with a high degree of uncertainty, but we are asking people to please consider the needs of a large group of people who do not have the luxury of choice. They need these food products and we are simply asking shoppers to be aware of these needs when they reach for a ‘Free From’ product when mainstream products are temporarily sold out. It is our responsibility to our community to highlight what we see as an unforeseen consequence of the bulk buying that has become such a feature of these times and to create an awareness that might prompt people to think again”.
The charity will also be contacting the leading supermarket chains to ask them to consider and protect the needs of the food allergic community in any plans to review and reduce product lines at this time.
“We will be asking supermarkets to take the needs of people living with food allergy into account in order to avoid the potential of our community being further disadvantaged in their ability to buy the food products they need” says Carla Jones.
Allergy UK is working with allergy specialists on its Health Advisory Board and the charity’s Clinical experts to provide specific information and advice about Coronavirus for people living with allergy. The charity will be providing advice and information through its communication channels, including the charity’s Helpline on 01322 619898, which has extended its hours to help manage the increase in calls.