From today restaurants now have to declare any allergens in food on their menus. Supermarkets and other places that sell prepackaged food must also declare them. However, although foods and cosmetics must now warn you of potentially harmful and fatal allergens, there is one area that is completely a law to itself and unregulated!
I wrote the following letter to the BBC:
Dear Have Your Say
There is a certain irony in the news that restaurants have to declare allergens of food they serve – very helpful – but when you then use their toilet facilities you are likely to be sprayed with allergy causing chemicals from an automatic ‘air freshener’.
These ‘air fresheners’ produced by companies such as PHS are absolutely everywhere these days. They are known to contain allergy causing chemicals but unlike food and cosmetics are completely unregulated. I had an allergic reaction in a Tesco supermarket recently and the staff showed me the inner canister in our attempt to find information on its contents.
It carried the following advice:
Warning: May cause allergic reaction
And advised that it should only be used outdoors or in well-ventilated areas!
There are numerous reports (I can provide citable sources) of allergic reactions to ‘air fresheners’ that end up causing asthma and heart attacks. The parents of children developing asthma are advised to stop using plug in fragrance dispensers in their homes. Care homes have seen huge rises in respiratory complaints after ‘air freshener’ installations.
Why is it legal to pollute the air in toilets and not declare it, while illegal not to provide allergen declarations on food and cosmetics?
I may have the choice to plan ahead and now avoid ever using a Tesco or Costa Coffee toilet but in a place like Gatwick Airport, having passed through security unable to leave the airport, there is no choice.
Using a public loo for a fundamental need, where a PHS canister lurks on the wall automatically spewing out allergen-causing ‘fragrance’, does not just mean relieving myself, it also means risking an allergic reaction with potential anaphylactic shock and even death.
The PHS canister that caused the allergic reaction (apologies for the bad photos but it was hard to tea the at the time).
Here is a link to the Food Standards Agency directive on allergen declarations in food: http://www.food.gov.uk/business-industry/allergy-guide
Here is a report of heart problems caused by Glade Air Freshener:
This is what an anaphylactic shock looks like.
Courtesy of Healthline.com