Renowned Indian chef, Cyrus Todiwala, has urged Asian takeaway businesses to follow the new EU legislation which became law last December.

The EU Food Information for Consumers Regulations (EU FIC) requires food businesses to provide information on 14 specific allergens, when used as ingredients, in the food they sell.

New research carried out jointly by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and Allergy UK has shown that 70% of those with food allergies avoid buying takeaways due to fears about allergens.

The research also found that more than half of those with allergies (53%) said they avoided eating in restaurants for the same reason.

Mr Todiwala is urging restaurant and takeaway owners to embrace the guidelines to benefit their businesses and keep their customers safe.

Since December 2014, restaurants and takeaways have been required by law to tell customers if 14 specific allergens are used as ingredients in the foods they serve. This change means that consumers can feel more confident about asking for information on allergenic ingredients when eating out in cafes and restaurants.

The FSA and Allergy UK’s poll a few months ago found that more than two thirds of allergy sufferers - 68% - said they would be more likely to eat out once the new legislation came into force.

Mr Todiwala said: “Over the last 20 years we have seen a rapid growth in the number of people suffering from allergies and intolerances. As restaurant owners we have a responsibility to keep our customers safe and make them feel welcome in our restaurants. I make sure that information about allergenic ingredients is clearly available in my restaurants so that people can make safe food choices, and I would encourage all chefs to do the same.”

Mr Todiwala added that providing good information on allergens would not only offer customers a safe choice, but could also increase the customer-base of a food business.

“For example, we were approached by the family of a young boy who could never eat out due to his food allergies. They sent us a list of ingredients he had to avoid and we worked with them to create a special meal that catered for his needs. This restaurant is now the only place he can safely visit when eating out. As a result his family always come here and have brought other guests too, and it has grown our business".

Around 2 million people in the UK have food allergies including up to 2% of adults and 8% of children. The new laws mean that all food businesses now have to inform their customers about 14 specific allergens.

These range from common ingredients such as nuts and milk, to less widely recognised allergens such as mustard and lupin (found in pasta and flour). It is hoped these changes will bring about a reduction in the number of allergic reactions caused by people being given a food they are allergic to.

On average, 10 people die and around 13,000 are hospitalised per year due to allergic reactions and coeliac disease. The majority of these avoidable deaths and hospitalisations are due to incorrect allergen information being given for foods –served outside of the home. Food businesses have been given flexibility on how they provide allergen information.

This can be communicated verbally by staff, displayed on a menu or on a chalkboard for example. At the very least there should be clear signposts letting customers know where this information can be found.

The law will also change the way allergy information appears on labelling for pre-packed foods bought in shops and supermarkets.

Allergenic ingredients can now be found emphasised from other ingredients within the ingredients list.

Chun-Han Chan, Food Allergy Expert at the FSA said, “Allergies can be fatal. This is why it is vital that food businesses give their customers information they can trust.

"We are working very closely with local authorities, food businesses and consumer groups to ensure that these changes can and will be put into place.

"We have produced a range of materials to help food businesses make these changes as easily as possible meaning they can cater for those with allergies and keep their customers safe.”