The Preferences of those with Food Allergies and/or Intolerances when Eating out


This study will develop understanding of the choices and behaviours of food allergic and intolerant consumers when eating out.  It will inform advice, guidance and tools for consumers and food businesses ahead of the new legislative requirements of the Food Information Regulations and will subsequently explore their impact.

From December 2014 the Food Information Regulations (FIR) will require that businesses provide information on the presence of 14 allergens (cereals containing gluten, crustaceans, molluscs, eggs, fish, peanuts, nuts, soya, milk, celery, mustard, sesame, lupin, and sulphur dioxide at levels above 10mg/kg or 10 mg/litre) when deliberately used as ingredients in non-prepackaged food. However, there is flexibility as to how this information is provided.

This study will help the FSA and other stakeholders understand the preferences and information seeking behaviours of food allergic and intolerant consumers when eating out or buying such foods.  It will also explore the impact of FIR allergen rules on the quality of life of these vulnerable consumers before and after the regulation. This will inform relevant advice, guidance and tools for both consumers and food businesses, enabling safer food choices to be made with confidence.

The research will be split into 2 parts:

Part A (during 2014)

This involves a 4-phase programme of qualitative and quantitative research, which will inform the implementation of the FIR allergen rules before they take effect December 2014.

Part B (during 2015/2016)

This will assess changes in the quality of life of the allergic and intolerant consumer.  Drawing on relevant literature it will replicate the methods used in Phases 2 and 3 of Part A to allow a comparison of results and outcomes before and after the implementation of the allergen rules.

In addition the research will provide an insight about the information being sought and circulated about the new rules and requirements and how official communications from the FSA and other relevant organisations are being cited and disseminated. This includes analysing consumer queries relevant to FIR implementation, including information exchanged online.



Anita Eves


Bernadette Egan


Monique Raats