“Soaring sales” for EHL’s allergen-free curry powder

By Sarah Hills

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Food allergy Asthma

UK-based food and ingredients company EHL claims to have seen a “sharp increase” in sales of its allergen-free curry powder, which were up 35 per cent over the last year.

EHL told FoodNavigator.com that the demand is almost entirely from food manufacturers in the UK.

This, it believes, is due to the number of allergy sufferers and consumer awareness, as well as stringent regulations regarding allergens within the food industry.

EHL said its curry blend, which was first launched in 2000, is free of any ingredients which are allergens, adding: “We have a strict controls, such as a separate production line, in place to avoid cross contamination.”

In particular, it does not contain mustard, the fourth most common food allergen in the UK.

Nor does it contain celery, which ranks among the most important plant food allergen sources in central Europe’s adult population, according to the authors of a recent study that pinpointed a novel allergen in celery stalks.

The study said that allergic reactions to celery and foods containing celery ingredients can have potentially severe consequences ranging from mild oral allergy to life-threatening anaphylactic reactions.

However the authors stated that information on the allergenic potential of celery stalks – a vegetable eaten worldwide and an ingredient in several widely consumed spices – is nearly absent.

EHL imports, blends and packs food ingredients such as herbs, spices and seasoning and boasts of more than 200 accredited organic ingredients.

It said that although it has been a requirement for allergens to be segregated in food production facilities to avoid cross-contamination for some years now, it was the food labelling changes in September 2010 which put UK retailers at the forefront of providing the maximum possible nutritional information on labels in the clearest possible way.

EHL said: “The responsibility of providing clear accurate information concerning product content has inevitably been passed onto raw ingredient suppliers.

“Additionally, as consumers become increasingly aware of the relationship between food and health, demand for low-salt, organic and allergen-free products has soared.

“In order to gain bigger shares of the market, supermarkets and their suppliers have introduced more and more allergen-free products, requiring a growing number of allergen-free ingredients in order to produce them.”

A further change in regulations is also on the way as new labelling rules voted in at the European Parliament last month state that allergenic substances must be highlighted in the ingredient list

This will come into force in three years once the legislation is published in the EU Official Journal - expected in October.

Food allergies affect around two per cent of adults in the UK and between five and eight per cent of children. The major allergens are peanuts, nuts, eggs, crustaceans, sesame seeds, cereals containing gluten, soya, celery, mustard, sulphur dioxide and sulphites.

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