ONE in six Scots have a food allergy or live with someone who does, according to Scotland's consumer watchdog.

Food Standards Scotland said potentially fatal food allergies are becoming increasingly common, as it launched a new alert service for sufferers to keep them up to date about products which have been recalled over mislabelling.

The seriousness of the issue attracted national attention after the case of Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, a 15-year-old who went into cardiac arrest on a flight and later died in hospital in France after buying a sandwich from a Pret a Manger outlet at Heathrow Airport.

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The teenager had been reassured that the packaging on the artichoke, olive and tapenade baguette did not carry any allergen warning in relation to sesame, to which she was severely allergic.

The high-profile case has prompted a review of food labelling laws in the UK , as foods prepared and packaged on site are not required to carry ingredients labels and allergen hazard warnings.

A survey by Food Standards Scotland (FSS) of 1046 people in Scotland found that 15 per cent of respondents either had a food allergy or shared a household with someone who did.

The 14 key food allergens are: cereals containing gluten, eggs, mustard, sesame seeds, tree nuts, crustaceans, sulphur dioxide and sulphites, celery, milk, soybeans, peanuts, fish, molluscs and lupin.

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The watchdog is now launching a new food allergy alert service where people in Scotland who have a food allergy or intolerance can sign up for text or email alerts ensuring that they are the first to know about an issue with missing or incorrect allergen information on food labels.

Between April 1 2018 and March 31 2019, there were 86 allergy alerts for food and drink products in Scotland.

People can subscribe to the free alert service on the FSS homepage. It is being launched to coincide with World Allergy Week, from April 7-13.

Ron McNaughton, head of FSS’s Scottish Food Crime and Incidents Unit, said: “Food allergies can significantly impact people’s quality of life, and Food Standards Scotland is here to make sure people with food allergies or intolerances have the information they need to make informed choices.

“We work closely with local authorities, food businesses, and the Food Standards Agency to make people in Scotland aware of any allergen information issues and we’d urge anyone with a food allergy in Scotland to sign up for tailored food allergy alerts by text or email."

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The service will give users the option to receive specific alerts by text or email about issues involving anyone of the 14 ingredients, which must be mentioned as allergens on pre-packaged food and drink labels in the UK.

Information about the presence of the 14 allergens also needs to be made available to consumers for food and drink products sold in restaurants, cafes, takeaways and loosely from deli counters and premises selling food which has been packed on site such as boxed salads or packaged sandwiches- for example through posters on walls or directly from staff.

The case of television producer Amy May Shead also highlighted the dangers to allergy sufferers from restaurant meals after she was left brain damaged and disabled as a result of consuming a meal containing nuts while on holiday in Budapest in 2014, despite warning the chefs in advance of her allergy.

She went into anaphylactic shock and then cardiac arrest, which cut off the oxygen supply to her brain.

Nurse Advisor at Allergy UK, Holly Shaw, said: “Making safe choices is an important part of day-to-day living with a food allergy.

“Alert services like this are a great way of communicating information that enable the food allergic person to stay informed and safe.”