MORE than 80 food samples tested by council officials across Lancashire contained hidden potential killer ingredients, new research claims.

Of 369 items gathered by local authority environmental health, trading standards and food safety experts between 2016 and 2018, 84 contained undeclared allergens which can cause extreme toxic reactions.

In ten cases a year nationally it results in death.

The samples were taken from a variety of premises serving food including takeaways, restaurants, hospitals, schools and care homes.

More than half the foodstuffs containing potentially fatal hidden allergens, 45, involved peanuts the substance which killed 15-year-old Megan Lee in 2017.

She had a fatal asthma attack after eating food from Oswaldtwistle’s Royal Spice takeaway which contained peanut protein despite her online order making clear her nut allergy.

Her father Adam described the findings as ‘deeply alarming', the family’s MP Sara Britcliffe said she was ‘deeply concerned’ while county council trading standards boss Cllr Albert Atkinson said they were ‘totally unacceptable’.

Freedom of Information requests by regulatory watchdog found that 348 food samples were tested for allergens between 2016 and 2018 taken in the Lancashire County Council area covering 12 boroughs which include Hyndburn, Burnley, Ribble Valley, Pendle and Rossendale.

The research revealed that 80 samples (22.9 per cent) contained undeclared traces of allergens harmful or even fatal to those suffering from food allergies of which 42 contained peanuts or peanut traces, five gluten, 15 milk, 13 egg, and five sulphites.

Blackburn with Darwen Council conducted 19 tests for allergens of which two discovered undeclared allergens – one peanut and one sulphite.

Blackpool conducted two allergen tests both of which found undeclared peanuts.

Cllr Atkinson said the latest figures for the county council’s trading standards staff showed that between April 2015 and January 2020 395 inspections were undertaken of which 51 found undeclared allergens.

Across England, Unchecked UK’s research showed that 861 of 4,271 tests found undeclared allergens.

Mr Lee said: “I am not surprised by these findings but they are deeply alarming.

“This is a matter of huge concern. Food providers are still using substandard substitute ingredients and putting profit before public safety while local authorities are facing huge cuts.”

Hyndburn MP Miss Britcliffe said: “I am deeply concerned by these results especially in light of the tragic death of Megan Lee.

“I am seeking an urgent meeting with the county council chief executive to see what more it can do to tackle the problem of undeclared allergens.

“I shall also seek a meeting with Health Secretary Matt Hancock to see what steps can be taken nationally to improve the monitoring of allergens and enforcement of regulations.”

Cllr Atkinson said: “Since the tragic death of Megan Lee, Trading Standards has developed and delivered comprehensive guidance for all food business operators.

“Working closely with district environmental health departments, a programme of training has also been delivered and sampling carried out to support businesses in reducing the risk to consumers.

“We would also like to thank Megan’s parents, Adam and Gemma, for their brave support in our awareness campaign.

“This has resulted in the failure rate reducing from 25 per cent to 11 per cent.

“However this is still totally unacceptable, and it is important that food businesses remember that not providing information to customers about the allergen content of their food is a criminal offence.

Emma Rose, director of, said: “Unknowingly consuming an allergen can prove fatal - and that’s why the law requires food businesses to tell people what allergens their food contains.

“But regulation is only as good as the enforcement that underpins it. And it’s clear that in the case of UK food law, the enforcement gap is looming large.”

Food Standards Agency figures show that around 10 people die in the UK each year as a result of undeclared allergenic ingredients.