Six in 10 young people with food allergies and intolerances have avoided eating out in the past six months because of their condition.

A new survey, produced by the Food Standards Agency (FSA), Allergy UK (AUK) and the Anaphylaxis Campaign (AC), also revealed that only 14% felt “extremely” confident asking for allergen information when dining out.

Researchers asked for the views of more than 2,500 young people aged 16-24 and who have food allergies or intolerances.

Other findings included 59% reporting that they tended to visit the same places when eating out, 55% always researched the menu online before going to a new or unfamiliar place, and only 9% always contacted a restaurant in advance to check they provided allergen information.

The FSA has also worked with AUK and AC to launch the ‘Easy to ASK’ campaign to encourage young people to ask food businesses about allergens when eating out. It features the mnemonic:

  • Always ask about allergies
  • Speak up
  • Keep safe

The FSA said the activity would also act as a reminder that businesses should be upfront about providing accurate allergen information.

“We’ve seen real progress in how food businesses approach customers with allergies. However, 60% of the young people surveyed tell us they’ve avoided eating out in the past six months because of their condition,” said FSA chairman Heather Hancock.

“Living with a food allergy or intolerance is not easy and can have fatal consequences. Many in this age group will be students starting out at university or college, in new surroundings and with new friends. It’s crucial that they feel confident to speak up and ask for allergen information, and that the people around them make that easier.”

Hancock added that food businesses had an important part to play in making this age group feel more at ease.

“They are required always to provide accurate allergen information,” she said. “Through our ‘Easy to ASK’ campaign, we’re raising awareness and understanding to boost the confidence of young people, and we’re encouraging food businesses to make it easier for everyone to ask the question, speak up and help keep those at risk safe.”