By Allergen Bureau

‘Easy to Ask’ food allergy campaign addresses fear of eating out

Latest research released by the UK’s Food Standards Agency (FSA), in partnership with the charities Allergy UK and the Anaphylaxis Campaign, has shown that 60 per cent of young British consumers with a food allergy or intolerance avoid eating out in fear of a food reaction. A new campaign aims to address this.

The study of 16-24 year olds with food allergy or intolerance found a disparity between the level of understanding and the level in trust in food allergen information when eating out. Despite 60 per cent of respondents saying they are aware of the legal requirement of food businesses to provide customers with information on the top 14 allergens, 41 per cent ‘don’t feel confident at all’, or only feel ‘a little confident’, to ask serving staff for allergen information. Only 14 per cent felt ‘extremely confident’ asking for allergen information in restaurants.

Almost 60 per cent of respondents in the FSA’s research said they tended to visit the same places when eating out, 55 per cent reported always researching the menu online before going to new or unfamiliar venues, and 9 per cent said they always contacted a restaurant in advance to check that allergen information is available.

In response to these findings, the FSA’s new campaign – called ‘Easy to Ask’ – aims to empower young people to ask about allergens when eating out, so they can make safe choices. Many in this age group will be students starting university or college, in new surroundings and with new friends. Evidence shows serious reactions and death from anaphylaxis are higher in this age group, meaning it is crucial they feel confident to speak up and ask for allergen information, and that the people around them make that easier.

The campaign follows the simple ‘ASK’ prompt:

  • Always ask about allergies
  • Speak up
  • Keep safe

Go to the FSA website for more information.