Restaurant staff unaware of food allergies; says European study

May 6, 2019

Food allergies are commonplace – more than 10% of Europeans are reported to have a food allergy. The problem is easily identified and addressed at home, but when dining out, restaurant staff have been observed to show low levels of food allergy knowledge and negatively approach serving customers with food allergies.

This was apparent in a study led by Adrian Loerbroks of the University of Düsseldorf, Germany, which involved direct interviews with 295 staff members of restaurants in 15 randomly selected districts of Düsseldorf – only 30% could correctly name three common food allergens, and 41% were able to correctly answer five true-or-false statements about food allergies.While most of the interviewees held positive attitudes regarding their responsibility to help meet the needs of customers with food allergies, they were generally distrustful about the accuracy of customers’ reports of their food allergies and had overall negative attitudes about serving such customers.

Loerbroks has dismally concluded that food allergy knowledge was not optimal among restaurant staff. Much of the staff believed that drinking water could dilute food allergens – particularly disastrous when they first serve water instead of calling for medical help.

On the other hand, managers, educated staff, staff at larger restaurants, and staff at restaurants with more comprehensive customer service had higher food-allergy knowledge levels; female staff were also more likely to believe customers’ self-reports of food allergies. This greatly excludes the common restaurant staff, who are recruited with no prior training.

Therefore, additional research and comprehensive statistical analyses are needed to further influence food allergy knowledge and attitudes which could hopefully guide educational programs for restaurant staff.


Category: Education, Features

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