By Allergen Bureau

How to make eating out safer for people with food allergy

A survey of people in Australia with food allergy has highlighted the risk of anaphylaxis when eating out, even when restaurant staff are informed of the food allergy.

Researchers based in Melbourne, Victoria, conducted an anonymous online survey over a nine-month period and collected 264 complete responses from people with food allergies and/or those caring for people with food allergies. Twenty-seven per cent reported they or their dependent had experienced anaphylaxis after consuming products purchased from dining establishments. Eighty-seven per cent of those people who experienced anaphylaxis reportedly informed staff of the food allergy.

Responses to other survey questions indicated that consumers with food allergy would like to see allergen information listed on food service menus and for staff to proactively ask patrons about food allergies. An accurate food allergen matrix that provides staff and consumers with easy access to information on menu items and common allergens was also favoured by those responding to the survey.

Maria Said, CEO, Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia and co-author of the above research has previously presented a webinar about eating out safely with food allergies with Alan Edwards, Senior Food Incident Response & Complaints Co-ordinator, NSW Department of Primary Industries, and Justin Wurth, Food Safety Manager from International Convention Centre, Sydney.

A recording of their panel discussion is provided on the Anaphylaxis Australia website, along with post-webinar Q&As that provide practical ideas for consumers and food establishments on improving the safety of eating out with food allergy.

Journal article reference: Zurzolo et al. 2021. Journal of Paediatric and Child Health. DOI: 10.1111/jpc.15651