Food Intolerance tests not to be sold in Pharmacies: Warning

Community pharmacists are being reminded not to offer food intolerance testing to patients, following an earlier warning about their lack of clinical evidence.

The Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland said it had been monitoring compliance and had carried out more than 160 inspections so far this year. The regulator would not say whether it had identified any pharmacies still offering food intolerance tests.

Earlier this year, the PSI told pharmacy owners and superintendent pharmacists that offering food intolerance testing services to patients was not appropriate.

It followed a review by the Health Products Regulatory Authority, which found the cause of food intolerance was unknown, and as such, any test claiming to indicate an intolerance was of little clinical value.

“In other words, a positive or negative test result is unlikely to be specifically related to any particular symptom or clinical condition,”

the notice said.

The HPRA advised healthcare practitioners that the tests – which use blood, hair or saliva samples – cannot diagnose allergies, and advised patients not to act on the results without expert advice from a doctor or registered dietician.

The health products’ watchdog has previously raised concerns about an increase in food intolerance tests and associated services being sold to customers in pharmacies.

Asked if any community pharmacies had been identified still stocking the tests, the pharmacy regulator said it had been “monitoring compliance through our inspection and enforcement function.”

“The PSI expects that all information and services provided by pharmacists is accurate, clinically valid and in line with current evidence and best practice,”

PSI spokeswoman Louise Canavan said.

“We would not expect food intolerance testing to feature in any pharmacy service listings. Appropriate follow-up actions are taken by the PSI where non-compliance is identified.”

Food allergies and intolerances – including to gluten, nuts, dairy, eggs, fish and crustaceans – are estimated to affect up to 3% of adults and 6% of children. The Food Safety Authority of Ireland says dietary changes should only be undertaken in consultation with suitably qualified experts.

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