A Food Standards Agency (FSA) survey shows over half of young people (60%) with a food allergy or intolerance have avoided eating out in the last six months due to their condition.

Feeling different is never easy, but for some young people it’s having worrying implications. Many young people are too embarrassed to talk publicly about having a food allergy or intolerance especially when in a social setting with their peers – risking allergic reactions or even more fatal consequences.

In fact, new research by the FSA in partnership with Allergy UK and the Anaphylaxis Campaign reveals that 41% of young people (16-24-years-old) with food allergies or intolerance’s don’t feel confident at all or only feel a little confident to ask serving staff for allergen information. The research also reveals that 60% of those surveyed avoid dining out due to their condition – a poor outcome for both those young people and food businesses alike.

That’s why Derby City Council is partnering with colleagues at the FSA to launch easy to ASK, a campaign designed to help break down this barrier. Easy to ASK reminds food establishments to ask customers about their dietary needs, and help put people with food allergies (especially those who are young and may be embarrassed) at ease.

The 14 allergens food businesses must be aware of and be able to provide their customers with information on are: peanuts, tree nuts, milk, cereals containing gluten, eggs, crustaceans, molluscs, fish, soya, sesame, sulphur dioxide/sulphites, celery, mustard and lupin.

Councillor Matthew Holmes Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Public Protection said:

“WE’VE SEEN GOOD PROGRESS IN HOW FOOD BUSINESSES APPROACH CUSTOMERS WITH ALLERGIES. HOWEVER, 60 PER CENT OF 16-24-YEAR-OLDS WITH FOOD ALLERGIES AND INTOLERANCES HAVE AVOIDED EATING OUT IN THE PAST SIX MONTHS BECAUSE OF THEIR CONDITION AND THAT NEEDS TO CHANGE.

IT’S CLEAR THERE IS MORE TO BE DONE TO ENCOURAGE THIS PARTICULAR AGE GROUP TO SPEAK UP AND MAKE THEM FEEL AT EASE WHEN DINING OUT.

WE WANT TO ENSURE BUSINESSES ARE PREPARED WITH THE RELEVANT ALLERGY INFORMATION AND ENCOURAGE THEM TO MAKE IT EASIER FOR EVERYONE TO ASK THE QUESTION, SPEAK UP AND HELP KEEP THOSE AT RISK SAFE.” 

Dr Chun-Han Chan, food allergy policy lead at the Food Standards Agency, said:

“Working in partnership with Derby cITY Council we are dedicated to encouraging conversations between food businesses and their customers across the country. Together we want to help young people living with food allergies be confident that the food they are served is safe to consume every time. Our easy to ASK campaign aims to empower customers, whether they live with a food allergy or not, to speak up and help keep those at risk safe.”