EATING OUT WITH A FOOD ALLERGY IN THE UK: CHANGE IN THE EATING OUT PRACTICES OF CONSUMERS WITH FOOD ALLERGY FOLLOWING INTRODUCTION OF ALLERGEN INFORMATION LEGISLATION

FCAAIA Notes: I firmly believe that patients and families with food allergy must “live their lives”. Far too often, I see people crippled by fear because of food allergy. A big part of my advice is, “Relax!” Do not let your food allergy control you; you should control your food allergy.

There is a misconception about the frequency of fatal food anaphylaxis. There are fewer than 100 (and perhaps as few as 20) food-anaphylactic fatalities per year in the United States. That does not imply we should be cavalier. In contrast, it is important to remain vigilant and diligent. Read labels on packaged foods and by all means, ASK when eating out. If your waiter is uninformed, you have every right to speak to the manager or chef.

In the US, manufacturers of packaged foods are required to clearly state if the product contains milk, egg, wheat, soy, peanut, nuts, fish, or sesame. The various “disclaimers” (May contain…., Processed… etc.) have no legal regulation and are placed at the discretion of the manufacturer. The vast majority of those foods DO NOT contain the food.

This article tells of the EU’s requirement that restaurateurs must be ready to disclose food allergens in their meals. My advice in the US is as above….ask! And if you are still not sure, don’t eat it. Nonetheless, accidents happen and as long as you are prepared, it is likely nothing really bad will happen.

(Source: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/cea.13072″>https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/cea.13072, Dec. 16, 2017 )

Background: Strict allergen avoidance is important in day‐to‐day management of food allergy and avoidance when eating outside the home can present particular difficulties. EU legislation (EU FIC) introduced in December 2014 aimed to improve food allergen information provision for customers by requiring retailers of non‐prepacked foods to provide information related to the content of one or more of 14 specified food allergens within their foods.

Objectives: To investigate the impact of EU FIC on the behaviours, experiences and attitudes of consumers with food allergy when eating out.

Methods: As part of longitudinal research, participants with food allergy from across the UK took part in either (A) pre and post legislation in‐depth interviews, or (B) pre and post legislation surveys. In‐depth interviews were carried out with 28 participants pre and post legislation and analysed using the framework approach. Self‐report surveys were completed by 129 participants pre and post legislation, and responses were subject to quantitative analyses.

Results: Improvements in allergen information provision and raised awareness of food allergy in eating out venues were reported following introduction of EU FIC. Whilst participants favoured written allergen information, they expressed greater confidence in communicating with eating out staff and in trusting the allergen information that they provided. Improvements were judged to be gradual, sporadic or inconsistent in implementation.

Conclusion and clinical relevance: For many participants, the “ideal” eating out experience was one in which a range of information resources were available and where written allergen information was complemented by proactive and accommodating staff within an allergy‐aware environment. Whilst the onus is on legislators and food providers to ensure that adequate allergen information is provided, clinicians play an important role in encouraging patients with food allergy to pursue their legal right to make allergen enquiries to avoid accidental allergen ingestion when eating out.

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