Young Brits with food allergies 'fear' eating out

By Nicholas Robinson contact

- Last updated on GMT

Food fears: young Brits with food allergies are spurning eating when out of the home
Food fears: young Brits with food allergies are spurning eating when out of the home

Related tags: Food allergy, Allergen, Allergen information, Fsa

A significant number of young people aged between 16 and 24 and suffering from food allergies or intolerances fear eating out in pubs and restaurants, shocking new research has claimed.

Released by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) in partnership with Allergy UK and the Anaphylaxis Campaign, the study claimed that six in 10 young people with an allergy or intolerance avoided eating out in the past six months.

This rose to 64% of food allergy sufferers avoiding eating out and dipped to 53% of those with a food intolerance.

The survey also revealed that, while 67% of respondents reported being aware of the legal requirement of food businesses to provide information on the top 14 allergens, only 14% felt extremely confident asking for allergen information when dining out and 14% reported feeling not at all confident.

Almost two thirds (59%) of those who did eat out said they tended to dine in the same places, while 55% admitted to researching menus before going to a new place, and 9% said they contacted a venue to check allergen information before turning up.

Customers with allergies

Despite real progress on how food businesses cater for customers with allergies, there was still a way to go, said FSA chairman Heather Hancock.

“Living with a food allergy or intolerance is not easy and can have fatal consequences,” she said in the report that was released this month.

How to help

% of respondents said yes

Number who said yes

Separate allergy menu

65

1,105

Allergen info listed next to dishes

84

1,421

Allergen symbol next to dishes

81

1,375

Signs encouraging consumers to ask  for info

46

774

Staff to ask if anyone has a food allergy

72

1,220

None of the above

2

35

Other

6

109

“Many young people will be students starting out at university or college in new surroundings and with new friends.

“It’s crucial that they feel confident to speak up and ask for allergen information, and that the people around them make that easier,” she added.

“Food businesses have an important part to play in making this age group feel more at ease, they are required to always provide accurate allergen information.”

Had a food allergy

The survey captured the views of 2,599 young people, almost half (49%) of whom had a food allergy, 33% an intolerance and 18% both an allergy and intolerance.

While the report covered those aged between 16 and 24, almost half of the respondents were aged between 22 and 24.

The NHS or a private doctor had officially diagnosed almost all of the respondents with a food allergy or intolerance (97%), the report said.

More respondents in the 16 to 18 category suffered with allergies (58%) than in any other age group.

In a bid to make things easier for young people suffering with food allergies and intolerances, the three organisations have launched the Easy to ASK​ campaign to raise awareness of the issue.

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