Has increased food allergen legislation changed the way people eat out?

EU legislation introduced at the end of 2014 requires retailers of non-prepackaged foods to provide information regarding the content of one or more of 14 specified food allergens within their foods. Recent surveys have sought to determine if this legislation has had an impact on the behaviours, experiences and attitudes of consumers with food allergy when eating out.

People with food allergy from across the UK were invited to take part in the study. Twenty-eight participants were interviewed in-depth pre and post legislation, while 129 participants completed self-report surveys pre and post legislation.

Results highlighted improved allergen information provision and greater public awareness of food allergy following the introduction of the EU legislation in 2014. This has brought about greater consumer confidence in communicating with staff and increased trust in the allergen information that they provided. However, some study participants regarded the improvements as gradual, sporadic or inconsistent in implementation.

Many of the food allergic people questioned expressed a preference for a range of available information when eating out, for example where written allergen information was complemented by proactive and accommodating staff within an allergy-aware environment.

Reference: Begen et al. 2017 Clinical and Experimental Allergy. doi: 10.1111/cea.13072