A new campaign has been launched encouraging food businesses to be more upfront about the provision of accurate allergen information.
It follows a survey carried out by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) in partnership with Allergy UK (AUK) and the Anaphylaxis Campaign (AC) which reveals only 14% of young people feel confident asking for allergen information when dining out. As a result, over half of young people with a food allergy or intolerance have avoided eating out in the last six months due to their condition.
Easy to Ask encourages food outlets to ask if a customer has any food allergies. It is hoped the campaign will also empower young people to ask food businesses about allergens when eating out so that they can make safe choices.
The survey also found that when meeting new people, 5% of respondents with a food allergy and 11% with a food intolerance reported not telling anyone about their condition. Meanwhile, 59% reported they tend to visit the same places when eating out and 55% reported always researching the menu online before going to a new or unfamiliar place. Only 9% reported always contacting a restaurant in advance to check they provide allergen information
FSA chairman Heather Hancock said: “We’ve seen real progress in how food businesses approach customers with allergies. However, 60% of the young people surveyed tell us they’ve avoided eating out in the past six months because of their condition.
“Living with a food allergy or intolerance is not easy and can have fatal consequences. Many in this age group 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.
“Food businesses have an important part to play in making this age group feel more at ease. They are required always to provide accurate allergen information. Through our easy to ASK campaign, we’re raising awareness and understanding to boost the confidence of young people, and we’re encouraging food businesses to make it easier for everyone to ask the question, speak up and help keep those at risk safe.”