I have rather lost count of the number of ‘allergy’ apps that have been launched to help you do your ‘freefrom’ shopping. I am not entirely sure how successful any of them have been – but it always seemed to me that it would be easier just to read the info on what you wanted to buy than to go through all the hassle of digging out your phone and accessing the info on the app. But maybe I am just not that app literate – comes of not using a mobile phone at all for so long because of my electrosensitivity, I guess.  Anyhow… The other day I came across the inventor of Alert5, IT specialist Lee Henderson – and this one really did seem like a very useful idea.

Lee originally had the idea of Alert5 ten years ago when he heard of a young girl who got in a cab and was then abducted, raped and murdered after her covert 999 call was dismissed by the police as a handbag call. Surely there was an app which could have alerted the police to the fact that this was a real emergency, not just a displaced lipstick in a handbag – and  given them some indication of where that emergency was occurring? But ten years ago the technology able to transmit an accurate location was simply not available, so the plan was shelved. Now, of course, GPS technology is very much more sophisticated so it is perfectly possible to send accurate location details automatically from the phone. So Lee took his idea off the shelf.

While his app is, obviously, of great value to anyone who might be being abducted it also has, as he soon came to realise,  immense potential for all kinds of medical emergencies – including anaphylaxis.

This is how it works:

1. When the front page is swiped and the alarm button pressed it raises an alert to up to five friends, family or work colleagues automatically showing a map of where you are – even if the phone is locked.
An add-on, at a small extra cost, can also raise an alert with Securitas so that, should the emergency occur in the early hours of the morning when family/friends might be asleep or have their phones turned off, there will still be a 24/7 alarm service there to respond.

2. It displays information on how to assist the person. In the case of anaphlaxis, for example, to look for an Epipen with images of what they look like.

3. It can sound an audible alert together with a flashing light.

4. The app can display any medical information that you require on the screen even when the phone is locked.

The app can be used on both iPhones and Androids and the alertees can easily be changed so that at work you can alert your colleagues and then, at the weekend, change that to family and friends.

And all of this only costs you £4.99 a year, 10% of which goes to related charities. Seems like a winner to me…

For more information, check in to the Alert5 website here.



Way back in 1987, just as I was starting work on a major history of English food, my eighteen-month-old son, Jonathan, and his father were diagnosed with dairy intolerances. Back then the alternatives for those on dairy-free diets were few and far between and pretty unappealing so, after some months of experimentation, I launched Berrydales Special Ices, soya based ices which were dairy and additive free – and tasted delicious! While manufacturing the ices I started a newsletter, The Inside Story, about food allergy and food intolerance and, by 1995, it was a quarterly magazine circulating to over 35,000 health professionals. In 2000 The Inside Story, re-named Foods Matter, became a subscription magazine and now all of that information, and much, much more, is accessible on the Foods Matter, Coeliacs Matter and Skins Matter sites and on our two freefrom food sites, FreeFromFoodsMatter and FreeFromRecipesMatter. You can follow me on twitter @FoodsMatter or email me at michelle@foodsmatter.com And, of course, you can also follow the exciting growth of freefrom food by checking out our annual FreeFrom Food Awards celebrating the best and the newest in freefrom foods!

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