A Heritage Trip to Ireland and Scotland

My name is Mathew Keating. I am 19 years old, and I have a nut allergy.

Irish flagI recently took a heritage trip to Ireland and Scotland. I have traveled to Europe before and, from experience, was under the impression that there was a lack of food labeling standards and general knowledge among the population in regards to food allergies.  Although those previous experiences were concerning, they were not a major worry while planning my trip, since I had dealt with such issues many times before.

To my surprise, I was mistaken on how Ireland and Scotland dealt with the issue of allergies. In both Ireland and Scotland, most of the locals and corporations Irish landscapewere very aware of allergies.  The labelling was very good, if not better then Canadian labeling.  Nearly every product had allergy warnings, including differentiation between products that have nuts, “may contain nuts” or “are not suitable for nut allergy sufferers.”  This was very good to see and made me feel very comfortable when choosing what to eat.

Although the labelling was very detailed, I found it to be excessive at times.  In some instances, a brand that offered a very large variety of foods – including everything from deserts to vegetables – would label every product with the same warning, “not suitable for nut allergy sufferers,” without exception.  At times, I felt they were doing this to minimize any possible risk, even when the risk may have been virtually non-existent.

European ingredient label

The locals were very aware of what allergies were and how they must be dealt with.  They knew how careful one must be when an allergy is severe.  Most restaurants knew to read the labels of the ingredients they used in their food and to be careful when preparing food.  Fortunately, only one restaurant throughout the three week period turned me away, as they were not confident that they could make safe food for me.

Although the labeling seemed over the top at times, I was very relieved to know that companies and citizens of the country were understanding of the issues surrounding allergies. That helped me to enjoy a safe and wonderful trip!

If you’re planning a trip to Europe, check out these useful resources:

–          Why Risk It? – Travel Section

–          Anaphylaxis Canada – Travel Section

–          Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Alliance

–          European Food Labelling Laws

And don’t forget to watch our Travel video!


2 responses

  1. Thank you for your insight. I am looking into a trip to Irelnd and Scotland. I am allergic to gluten dairy soy and chocolate. I am feeling a bit better about the trip.

  2. Late reply/comment, but oh well:
    I love the fact that the restaurant turned you away, because they weren’t confident they could make a safe meal for you! That’s incredibly reassuring for me, knowing that a restaurant is willing to lose a customer because of a health/safety concern. Definitely going to feel a lot better knowing that some places are willing to do this!

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