2020 Food Allergies Survey

A survey has highlighted the challenges facing young people with food allergies and intolerances.

The research was undertaken by Food Standards Scotland (FSS) in partnership with Young Scot between 15 January and 10 February 2020.

Of the 570 responses, 28% (160 people) reported having a food allergy, most commonly to peanuts, cereals (including gluten), tree nuts, milk and eggs.

The survey also found that:

  • 44% of respondents with a food allergy wouldn’t always mention it to the person they’re buying food from in a restaurant or café
  • The main reasons given for this were because they don’t want to make a fuss, don’t think it’s important to tell staff or are embarrassed to say
  • 34% of respondents aged 12 to 18 who wouldn’t always mention their food allergy stated that they use the menu to check whether the food they are ordering contains allergens
  • 40% of respondents don’t always check the ingredients labelled on the food they buy or order to make sure it’s safe
  • Only around half (49%) of those who need to carry an allergy pen or auto-injector always carry one with them
  • Around one in 10 respondents worry about it a lot, and the same number have been teased or bullied because of it
  • A new campaign from FSS, supported by Allergy UK and Young Scot, aims to encourage young people with food allergies across Scotland to discuss their food allergies with friends, and when they’re eating out and about, and to remember their allergy pen if they need one.
  • Visit the Food Standards Scotland website for more information about the survey and their campaign.

2018 Food Allergies Survey

A bespoke online survey of 16- to 24-year-olds revealed that over half of young people with a food allergy or intolerance had avoided eating out in the previous six months due to their condition.

The research was undertaken by the Food Standards Agency in partnership with Allergy UK (AUK) and the Anaphylaxis Campaign (AC) between July and September 2018.

Of the 2,599 respondents who participated, 49% reported having a food allergy, 33% had a food intolerance and 18% reported both a food allergy and intolerance.

The survey also found that:

  • 88% of respondents reported eating out or ordering takeaways/ food online without support.
  • Before eating out without support, 55% of respondents reported always researching the menu, and 49% said that they always pack their medication.
  • When eating out, 59% of respondents said they often tend to visit the same places.
  • When ordering a takeaway/food online without support, 51% of respondents stated that they always check an online menu’s allergen information before choosing what to eat. 39% said they always only order dishes that they know are safe.
  • Overall, 60% of respondents said they had avoided eating out in the last six months because of their condition.
  • 67% of respondents said that they were aware of the legal requirement of food businesses to provide customers with information on the top 14 allergens when used as ingredients in the food they serve.
  • 53% of all eligible respondents stated that they felt extremely, very or quite confident that food businesses are able to provide correct information regarding allergens in food they serve.
  • 14% reported feeling extremely confident asking for allergen information when eating out or ordering a takeaway/ food online, while 14% reported feeling not at all confident.
  • Visit the Food Standards Agency website for more information about their Food Allergy and Intolerance Research Programme.

Young people with food allergies & intolerances

  • People with a food allergy - 49%
  • People with a food intolerance - 33%
  • People with a food allergy and intolerance - 18%