A NEW allergy testing service has been set up by the Safeway supermarket chain. It costs pounds 16.99 and is being offered by 15 Safeway stores. There are plans to extend it to all 63 branches with pharmacies. Customers can have a finger-prick blood sample sent away for screening for 10 common allergens.

But the service has been criticised by specialists. In a letter to the British Medical Journal, Professor Barry Kay, of the National Heart and Lung Institute, London, says remote allergy testing can 'confuse and alarm susceptible people'. Many people who test positive to a particular substance are not necessarily allergic, he argues.