RESTAURANTS, cafes and takeaways in Lancashire have improved their performance when selling food containing allergens, according to trading standards bosses.

Over the past three years, the percentage of businesses failing tests for ingredients containing allergens which had not been declared on menus has dropped from 40 per cent to 12.5 per cent.

The figures have been highlighted by Lancashire County Council trading standards service during the Food Standards Agency’s national Food Safety Week campaign (June 10 to 16).

It seeks to highlight the role of those whose daily work is to ‘protect our plate’ by ensuring food is safe to eat.

Rachel Wilcock, principal officer for food at the county council’s trading standards service, said: “We carry out sample tests on a quarterly basis to check how well food businesses are complying with their obligations around allergens, and identify those where we need to take further action.

“Businesses should not serve food containing certain specified allergens without ensuring those ingredients are listed in information available to the customer, so that people with allergies can easily check before they order.

“The good news is that over the last three years we’ve seen a real improvement in the proportion of businesses passing, and while we don’t want any failures at all, I hope this gives people confidence that their food has become safer in this respect.

“We’re working hard to bring that failure rate as close to zero as possible, and are building on what we’re already doing by producing a new information and training pack which we’ll be rolling out to businesses later this year.

“This includes a film featuring the stories of local people who live with serious, and potentially life-threatening, food allergies to really try and drive home how important it is that businesses comply with the laws in place.”

Trading standards said they are working closely with businesses to make sure they understand the serious implications of serving food containing undeclared allergens, and bring any which fail sample tests into line.

Food allergy is seen as a serious and growing public health issue, with one in three of the UK population living with an allergy of some form.