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

Fiona Begen, Julia Barnett, Ros Payne, M.H. Gowland, Audrey DunnGalvin, Jane S. Lucas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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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 & 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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)317–324
Number of pages8
JournalClinical and Experimental Allergy
Issue number3
Early online date8 Dec 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2018


  • EU FIC legislation
  • IgE
  • allergen avoidance
  • eating out
  • education
  • food allergy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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