James Miller - Coeliac Diary


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

E-Mail to Simon Mayo on Allergies


"You ask why more of us suffer from allergies.

Growing up in North London in the smogs of the fifties, who would have known that it was your allergy that was the problem. With me, I’m a coeliac (allergic to gluten) and wasn’t detected until a few years ago. With this allergy, the methods of discovery did not exist until about 1960. If they had, my father and grandfather probably wouldn’t have died as young as they did.

So with cleaner air and better methods of detection, it’s obvious that we’ll get more allergy sufferers.

A few years ago, I was part of a team that developed a device for asthma drug delivery and learned a lot about that disease. For instance, one of the major causes is open flames, smoking, sealed houses and carpets, which many of us have these days. Draughty country cottages with stone floors are so much better. I also read somewhere that the beautifully clean country of New Zealand has some of the worse asthma.

What should we do?

The work done on labelling foods is to be welcomed and we must lower levels of allergens still further and also eliminate cross contamination. But we should also bring all medicines under the same rules.

For instance, nearly all cough syrups contain wheat-derived glucose syrup and many tablets use wheat starch as the base. These actually make my illnesses worse.

I would also like to see it compulsory for all restaurants, cafes and pubs to label their food as to allergens. One chain, basically says that if you have an allergy, then don’t come here."

It wasn't read out, but note the bit about medicines. They must be labelled.



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