Many restaurant staff are undertrained and misinformed about food allergies

April 14, 2011

A new study published in Clinical & Experimental Allergy reveals that there is no association between a restaurant worker's knowledge of food allergy and his or her confidence in being able to provide a safe meal to a food allergic customer.

Food allergies are common, affecting 2% of adults and as much as 8% of children in the UK alone. Allergic reactions can cause a wide variety of symptoms, the most serious being anaphylaxis, which can cause death.

Led by Professor Helen Smith of Brighton & Sussex Medical School, UK, researchers telephoned 90 table-service restaurants in Brighton to assess staff knowledge of food allergy and determine how comfortable they felt providing meals to food allergic customers.

Responses demonstrate apparent gaps in restaurant staff's knowledge of food allergy. In one out of three kitchens, common food allergens (e.g. eggs, peanuts, wheat, milk, nuts, fish) were not separated from other foods. One in five staff members thought that an allergic customer consuming a small amount of allergen would be safe, as would removing the allergen from a finished meal (e.g. picking the nuts off a pre-prepared desert would render it safe for a nut-allergic customer to eat).

Only one third of respondents had received any sort of food allergy training, but nonetheless 80% reported confidence in providing a safe meal for their food-allergic customers.

"Diners who are food allergic must remain vigilant and not assume restaurants are safe or that all staff are knowledgeable about ," Smith notes. "Our survey supports the need for more rigorous and accessible training if food-allergic customers are to avoid being put at risk by dining out."

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Expert: Be concerned about how apps collect, share health data

October 20, 2017
As of 2016 there were more than 165,000 health and wellness apps available though the Apple App Store alone. According to Rice University medical media expert Kirsten Ostherr, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates ...

Three million Americans carry loaded handguns daily, study finds

October 19, 2017
An estimated 3 million adult American handgun owners carry a firearm loaded and on their person on a daily basis, and 9 million do so on a monthly basis, new research indicates. The vast majority cited protection as their ...

More teens than ever aren't getting enough sleep

October 19, 2017
If you're a young person who can't seem to get enough sleep, you're not alone: A new study led by San Diego State University Professor of Psychology Jean Twenge finds that adolescents today are sleeping fewer hours per night ...

Across Asia, liver cancer is linked to herbal remedies: study

October 18, 2017
Researchers have uncovered widespread evidence of a link between traditional Chinese herbal remedies and liver cancer across Asia, a study said Wednesday.

Eating better throughout adult years improves physical fitness in old age, suggests study

October 18, 2017
People who have a healthier diet throughout their adult lives are more likely to be stronger and fitter in older age than those who don't, according to a new study led by the University of Southampton.

Global calcium consumption appears low, especially in Asia

October 18, 2017
Daily calcium intake among adults appears to vary quite widely around the world in distinct regional patterns, according to a new systematic review of research data ahead of World Osteoporosis Day on Friday, Oct. 20.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.