The parents of a teenager who died after having a serious allergic reaction have been honoured for their dedication and commitment to raising awareness of food allergens.
All food businesses in the UK have a responsibility to provide accurate allergen information to all customers that request it, and ultimately to provide food that is safe for people with allergies.
Not doing so can have fatal consequences, as was the case with 15-year-old Megan Lee, who suffered a fatal asthma attack in 2017 after unknowingly eating a takeaway meal containing peanuts.
Following the tragedy, Megan’s parents, Gemma and Adam Lee, worked with Trading Standards officers at Lancashire County Council to produce Megan’s Story, a short film featuring treasured photos and video of the Oswaldtwistle schoolgirl growing up, to make businesses aware of the risks associated with allergens and ensure other families don’t have to go through the same ordeal.
The video has been used all around the UK and was recently incorporated into a multilingual resource developed by Trading Standards Wales.
For their commitment and dedication in raising awareness of food allergens, Gemma and Adam have received a Special Recognition Award at the Chartered Trading Standards Institute National Conference in Bristol.
Gemma said: “We can’t change our story as much as we would love to. But what we can do is help others by stopping this story happening to someone else’s family.
“We have continued to raise awareness of the dangers of allergens and hope we will make business owners and their staff think about their actions. No-one wants another tragedy to happen.”
Adam added: “It was incredible to receive an award at the CTSI Conference 2022. To receive an award in our daughter’s memory is truly heart-warming.”https://www.youtube.com/embed/hL-beO7Wg0E
It is thought that as many as one in three of the UK population, or 21 million people, live with an allergy of some form and this number is increasing at an alarming rate.
Dr Sakthi Karunanithi, director of public health for Lancashire County Council, said: “Food allergy is a serious and growing public health issue.
“There has been a dramatic increase in allergic diseases in recent years and raising awareness of this for both businesses and the public is very important.”
County Councillor Michael Green, cabinet member for health and wellbeing, said: “I would like to thank Gemma and Adam Lee for their tremendous efforts to raise awareness of food allergens after the tragic loss of their daughter, Megan.”
Councillor Green added: “The county council has developed a number of resources to increase awareness of food allergy as a serious issue and help educate young people and adults about the potentially life-threatening nature of the condition.
“We recently developed a free e-Learning package for businesses to raise awareness of this growing issue, to help ensure that what happened to Megan Lee doesn’t ever happen again to anyone in Lancashire.”
For more information about allergies visit: www.lancashire.gov.uk/consumer-advice/allergy-information/ and https://www.lancashire.gov.uk/business/trading-standards/allergy/
The multilingual allergen resource produced by Trading Standards Wales, which is based on resources from Lancashire County Council’s trading standards team, can be accessed here: https://www.tradingstandards.uk/practitioners/food-allergen-resources