Allergy suffers avoid checking safety of food when dining out because they 'don't want to make a fuss'

Almost half of people with a food allergy would not always mention it to the person they are buying food from in a restaurant or café - with teenagers most likely to fear making a fuss or feeling too embarrassed to discuss it.

Almost half of people with a food allergy avoid discussing it with restaurant staff.

A survey from Food Standards Scotland run in partnership with Young Scot, found that the vast majority those aged 12 to 18 decide not to check the food they are eating is safe because they do not think it is important to tell staff or feel uncomfortable revealing their allergy.

One in 10 people with a food allergy said they worry about it a lot, and the same number have been teased or bullied because of it.

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Meanwhile, 40 per cent of those with a food allergy admit they do not always check the ingredients labelled on the food they buy or order to make sure what they are eating is safe.

The organisations have launched a campaign to highlight the importance for young people to make others aware of their food allergy - and to check food labels and menus when they are eating out to ensure the food they choose is safe.

Jacqui McElhiney, head of food protection science and surveillance at Food Standards Scotland, said: “Being aware of food allergies and talking about them is vital. Our campaign encourages young people to tell others about their food allergies and to check food labels to make confident choices about their food, as well as carry an allergy pen if they need one

“Our survey suggests a need for greater awareness about the seriousness of food allergies, and that young people may be reluctant to discuss their allergies with others for fear of causing a fuss or standing out from the crowd.

She added: “28 per cent of the people who completed our survey have a food allergy. This highlights how common they are, but many people without food allergies may still not be aware of the serious impact they can have on people’s everyday lives. Food allergies are different from food intolerances as they can cause allergic reactions and can be life-threatening.”

Only around half of those who need to carry an allergy pen or auto-injector say they always carry one with them.

Carla Jones, chief executive at Allergy UK, said: “We believe that this is a really important campaign which connects directly with young people with food allergies on the importance of telling their friends and other people about their allergy when eating out and the things that they need to do to keep safe. This kind of communication plays a key role in raising better awareness and, perhaps more importantly, better understanding of food allergies and what it is like to live with one.”