Allergen laws boost confidence in eating out

People who suffer from food allergies have greater confidence when eating out of home since the introduction of new EU laws, a survey has found.

In December 2014, EU legislation was introduced requiring retailers of non-prepacked foodstuffs to provide customers with information relating to the presence of 14 specified allergens including peanuts, milk and cereals containing gluten, as ingredients in their products.

The legislation affects information provision in restaurants, takeout facilities, and all other food outlets and allows businesses to communicate allergen information either orally by a member of staff, using a label, or on a menu or a chalk board.

Research commissioned by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) showed 70% of food allergic and intolerant consumers now feel more confident in asking staff for allergen information, while 56% value staff more as a source of information.

More than one third (35%) of food allergic and intolerant consumers reported an improvement in allergen information on menus, while 44% said they are now more ‘adventurous’ about eating out.

Over two million people in the UK have a food allergy and an estimated 600,000 have coeliac disease.

“This new research shows that many food businesses have a good understanding of the allergen information rules, with the result that consumers trust them and feel confident that they'll be safe when eating out,” said FSA chairman, Heather Hancock.

Hancock, however, warned that some smaller food businesses have yet to get on top of providing allergen information.

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