Restaurants, takeaways and ready-meals will all be required to show allergy information on their menus under a new EU law which came into force this week (Saturday 13th December).
Customers must now be informed if their food contains any of 14 ingredients that cause severe allergies including nuts, milk, celery, gluten, soya and wheat.
South East MEP Catherine Bearder commented:
"This new law will make a huge difference to the lives of people with severe allergies.
"Chefs and their staff already know about these ingredients but they will now have to make it clear what allergens are present in their food at point of sale and could be fined it they don't.
"Providing clearer information about ingredients will prevent the number of severe allergic reactions and save lives."
The Hampshire-based Anaphylaxis Campaign, which helps severe allergy sufferers, also welcomed the changes.
Lynne Regent, CEO of the Anaphylaxis Campaign said: "We welcome these new EU regulations and we have been actively engaged in their implementation. These new rules will enable people living with severe food allergies to feel more confidence, reassured and safe whilst eating out."
The charity was set up 20 years ago after the death of 17-year-old Sarah Reading, from Aldershot, who experienced a fatal anaphylaxis reaction after she ate a lemon meringue pie in a department store café. This dish had crushed peanut sprinkled on the top which she was not informed about by the restaurant staff, and was not marked on the menu.
If a similar tragedy happened after these regulations come into force in December 2014, the department store that served this dish would be taken to court.