With allergen legislation coming in this December those in hospitality will be required to be able to answer any questions about any major allergens in their offer.
The survey was conducted by the Freefrom Eating Out Awards team at the Allergy and Gluten-free show.
Of the delegates, 46% were coeliacs, 20% suffered from a wheat intolerance, 14% had a dairy intolerance and 20% suffered from different allergies. When asked how often they eat out 37% said once or twice a week while 44% only ate out once or twice a month.
Reasons for the delegates to eat out so rarely included a lack of choice on menus (67%), a mistrust of staff to understand their allergies or special dietary needs (53%), it is too much hassle (44%) and they did not like to ‘feel different’ (16%).
Precautions taken to vet venues before eating included phoning in advance to discuss dietary needs (53%), requesting to speak with the chef on arrival (50%) or both (32%). Talking to the chef was seen as the most reliable way to find out allergen information (54%), though 45% also wanted to see a written list of ingredients for each dish or receive an allergen-free menu. Just 17% felt that asking front-of-house staff about allergens would be a reliable method.
The best places for managing allergies were voted as fine dining and family-run restaurants while the worst were sandwich bars and Indian and Indonesian restaurants.