Don’t be silent, speak up for food allergies
Catherine Clarke discusses the FSA’s latest food allergy campaign and why it is so important, especially for young people, to make sure they have their voices heard by restaurants.
This week the Food Standards Agency (FSA) launched its latest campaign in its commitment to make the UK the best place in the world to be a consumer with a food hypersensitivity.
The Speak Up For Allergies campaign looks to encourage young people to speak to restaurants directly if they should have a food allergy. This is to make sure the server understands their needs and that they are not put at risk of an allergic reaction.
Young people and food allergies
Our research shows that children and young people are at a higher risk of experiencing food allergy reactions, and this can be attributed to a number of factors.
While many are confident about managing their food allergy in general, they are less likely to tell a café or restaurant about their allergy. This is especially true if they have eaten a meal from a particular venue previously.
Our research has revealed that young people are eating takeaways more often than before lockdown. With eating-in being the new eating out, it is vital that young people with food allergies, and their friends, remember to speak to the restaurant every time they make an order.
Ingredients can change
Ingredients can change, recipes can be recreated, different chefs may be cooking the meal, and different staff may be taking the order. It’s important never to assume a meal will be safe and to always ask about allergies.
It’s not enough to rely on allergen information provided online or through in-app messaging services, as this function may not be used in the same way by all restaurants.
Instead, we are asking young people with allergies, and their friends, to take control of their food allergy and call the food business directly when making an order.
If you don’t feel that the person you’re ordering from fully understands your needs, ask to speak to someone else. If you’re not confident they understand your allergy, consider ordering from elsewhere.
If you, or your friends or family, have a food allergy, it’s important to never be complacent. That’s why we’re reminding people to be allergy aware and remember to ask, even when ordering the usual.
The campaign will run over social media and through partners across the food industry. We will be working with influencers across different channels to get the message to their followers, and to share their stories around food allergy.
Speak Up For Allergies will give a voice to the very real risks that complacency can bring for consumers with a food allergy, and bring about positive lasting behaviour change in the way food is ordered online.
Follow the conversations across Instagram, TikTok, Twitter and Facebook through the hashtag #SpeakUpForAllergies.
Advice for young people with a food allergy
To support the campaign, we have developed specific advice for teenagers and young adults with a food allergy, which unpacks what to do in different situations when living with a food allergy.
The advice will be developed throughout the campaign to include tips and case studies around how young people can manage a food allergy during particular life events such as moving out, studying and travelling.
About the author
Catherine Clarke is the Head of Marketing at the FSA.