Students have described terrifying experiences of buying foods containing their allergens from campus outlets because ingredients information was not more readily available.
Thomas Howard, a second year History student, spoke of his experiences with buying food on campus. Thomas is allergic to mayonnaise and so asked one outlet if a sandwich contained any. Despite being told the cheese sandwich did not, Thomas found it did when he opened it. “I could have been hospitalised,” he said.
Chris Ball, a final year Psychology student and Non-Portfolio part time officer for the students’ union, said he was not told a brownie contained peanuts at one university cafe. “Luckily it was only a few crumbs,” he said at a Union Council meeting, “otherwise I could have gone into anaphylactic shock as I’m really allergic to peanuts”.
Under a new ‘May Contain Nuts’ policy, the students’ union said outlets were “endangering students”.
The motion included a boycott of Campus Kitchen’s services for SU functions “until the organisation improves its practice and is compliant with both the spirit and the letter of the law”.
Passed at the end of last month, the motion also committed the SU to a review of their own outlets. It called for “new practices put in place to decrease cross-contamination and that guarantees allergen information is readily available.”
SU Non Portfolio Officer Chris Ball said it was shocking that food containing allergens was sold without labels on campus.
“Food allergies are life and death for many students,” he said.
“We’ll be putting in place practices to decrease cross-contamination and guarantee that allergen information is readily available in the SU, and be calling on Campus Kitchen to improve its practice and act within the law.”
Gavin Yuill, UEA’s Head of Catering and Hospitality said: “We take allergens very seriously and ensure that all food and drink has allergen information readily available.
“All of our staff undertake regular food safety training, which includes a session around allergies, and our staff are always on hand to offer advice and information regarding any of the products sold.
“We have selected personnel trained to Level 4 Award in Managing Food Safety.
“We hold an allergen folder at every outlet so that information is readily available for both customers and staff.”
University outlets also encourage customers to ask if they have any concerns regarding allergens.
“Following this incident we have added additional signs displaying homemade products containing nuts, to further safeguard customers,” Mr Yuill added.