Head of Data Services, UK & Growth Markets

While awareness of food allergies and intolerances is growing, a quarter of Britons who have one feel it isn’t taken seriously by restaurants

A new YouGov Omnibus survey reveals that although the majority of those surveyed (56%) say restaurants take their food sensitivity seriously, a quarter (25%) don’t agree.  

Most respondents (76%) feel comfortable telling staff about their allergy or intolerance when dining out, but around one in seven (15%) still feel fairly uncomfortable - and 4% said they feel very uncomfortable. 

The data shows there may be a cause for concern around labelling and awareness. Of respondents who have eaten something they were allergic or intolerant to (which caused a reaction), a quarter (25%) said that, the most recent time this happened, the offending item was purchased from a restaurant, pub or café.

Almost three in ten (28%) respondents have had a reaction to something they were allergic to within the last month and more than half (56%) had experienced this within the last year.

In terms of who was at fault for the incident, 42% of these people blamed themselves the most. Just one in ten (10%) blamed staff and 6% blamed the brand that produced the item. Almost three in ten (28%) said no one was at fault.

While half (50%) of respondents do not avoid any particular type of cuisine, many do err on the side of caution when choosing what to eat. Among those with a peanut allergy, 43% avoid Thai food, 27% steer clear of Indian dishes and 23% do not eat Chinese food. Almost a quarter (24%) of people who are sensitive to shellfish abstain from Thai cuisine. Among those with a sensitivity to dairy, Italian (23%) and French (18%) cuisines are most commonly avoided.

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