New survey shows young people have some of the lowest levels of knowledge about allergen food rules

New survey shows young people have some of the lowest levels of knowledge about allergen food rules

  • 01 August 2018
  • News

Recent results published by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) from their Public Attitudes Tracker Survey show that most people report feeling confident to ask a member of staff at food outlets for information about ingredients because of a concern about possible allergens or food intolerance. However, the results have also highlighted young people to be among those with the lowest levels of knowledge regarding the rules about allergens.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) is a non-ministerial government department and is responsible for protecting public health in relation to food in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The Public Attitudes Tracker Survey is done on a biannual basis and asks questions covering several topics, including concern about food safety issues, awareness of food hygiene standards and confidence in food labelling. Of those asked, 11% of respondents reported having a food intolerance and/or allergy.

It is positive to see that, of the people asked, 71%-78% felt confident to ask for information about ingredients because of a concern about possible allergens or food intolerance. Although it is encouraging to see these percentages, the survey did highlight that the youngest (16-25) and oldest (66+) age groups had the lowest levels of knowledge regarding the rules around allergens, with 55% and 59% respectively not knowing any rules.

Research suggests that 16 to 25 year olds are a group at high risk of having a severe allergic reaction, known as anaphylaxis. Living with a severe allergy or intolerance can, at times, have an impact on social occasions, college, university, work and eating out. A lack of understanding from others can leave young people feeling isolated and, in turn, can have a huge emotional impact. Through raising awareness and providing high quality information, the Anaphylaxis Campaign offers help and support to young people coping with the day to day challenges of living with an allergy.

Lynne Regent, Chief Executive of the Anaphylaxis Campaign, said:

It is vital that we provide support and information to young people who we know are a particular risk group. We continue to encourage young people who are living with severe allergies to draw attention to this among their friends, colleagues and all times when eating out. Through continued work with the Food Standards Agency, a survey has recently gone out to our members which investigates the challenges faced when eating out with a severe allergy among young people. We hope that through projects like this, our social media platforms, and continued research that we will reach more and more young people living with severe allergies.”

How is the Anaphylaxis Campaign supporting young people living with a severe allergies or anaphylaxis?

  • We recently sent out a survey link on behalf of the Food Standards Agency (FSA), who are co-developing with us a big marketing campaign targeting 16 to 24 year olds. The aim of the campaign is to help keep everyone safe, by making it normal to ask about food allergies when eating together socially. The campaign will launch in September – timed for the start of the new academic year, as this is when many young people with food allergies will be looking after themselves for the first time, as well as eating and shopping in new places and making new friends. It’s an exciting time but some young people can feel very isolated or take unnecessary risks.
  • We have set up an 18-25 closed Facebook group to provide young people with a safe area to reach out for the advice, share experiences and receive information from Anaphylaxis Campaign. To join this group please click here.
  • Our national helpline team is on hand Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm to answer any of your questions or queries.
  • Our Doctor Doyle YouTube videos provide useful advice and tips including how adrenaline works, how to know when to use your adrenaline auto-injector and advice on how alcohol and kissing can affect an allergy. To watch these videos please click here.

Through the development of our services aimed at young people we hope to reduce the feeling of anxiety by providing the information and support they need to take on day to day challenges they might face living with a severe allergy.

If you have any concerns or questions, please contact our helpline team at or call 01252 542 029.