Restaurant staff's knowledge of anaphylaxis and dietary care of people with allergies

Bailey, S, Albardiaz, R, Frew, A J and Smith, H (2011) Restaurant staff's knowledge of anaphylaxis and dietary care of people with allergies. Clinical & Experimental Allergy, 41 (5). pp. 713-717. ISSN 1365-2222

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Background: Deaths caused by food-induced anaphylactic reactions are increasing, with most caused by food purchased outside the home. Primary prevention by allergen avoidance is desirable, but is easier in the home than when eating out, where the responsibility is shared with restaurant staff.

Objective: To investigate restaurant staff's knowledge about food allergies.

Method: A structured telephone questionnaire was administered to a member of staff at 90 table-service restaurants in Brighton.

Results: Fifty-six percent (90/162) restaurants that were contacted agreed to participate. Responders included seven owners, 48 managers, 20 waiters and 15 chefs. Ninety per cent (81/90) reported food hygiene training; 33% (30/90) reported specific food allergy training. Fifty-six percent (50/90) could name three or more food allergens. Eighty-one percent reported confidence (very or somewhat) in providing a safe meal to a food-allergic customer. Answers to true–false questions indicated some frequent misunderstandings: 38% believed an individual experiencing a reaction should drink water to dilute the allergen; 23% thought consuming a small amount of an allergen is safe; 21% reported allergen removal from a finished meal would render it safe; 16% agreed cooking food prevents it causing allergy and 12% were unaware allergy could cause death. Forty-eight percent expressed interest in further training on food allergy.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance: Despite a high confidence level, there are obvious gaps in restaurant staff's knowledge of allergy. Food-allergic patients need to be aware of this and adapt their behaviour accordingly. Our data challenge the impact of current food allergy training practice for restaurant staff, and support the need for more rigorous and accessible training.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: anaphylaxis; food allergic; Great Britain; restaurant
Schools and Departments: Brighton and Sussex Medical School > Primary Care and Public Health
Subjects: R Medicine
Depositing User: Jessica Stockdale
Date Deposited: 07 Aug 2012 13:08
Last Modified: 02 Jul 2019 23:54

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