Understanding how consumers with food allergies make decisions based on precautionary labelling

Audrey DunnGalvin, Graham Roberts, Lynne Regent, Moira Austin, Fiona Kenna, Sabine Schnadt, Angel Sanchez-Sanz, Pilar Hernandez, Bettina Hjorth, Montserrat Fernandez-Rivas, Steve Taylor, Joseph Baumert, Aziz Sheikh, Sian Astley, Rene Crevel, Clare Mills

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: Understanding consumer perceptions is crucial if effective food safety policy and risk communication are to be developed and implemented. We sought to understand how those living with food allergy assess risk with precautionary allergen labelling (PAL) and their preference in how risks are communicated within a quantitative risk assessment (QRA) framework.

METHODS: The Integrated Approaches to Food Allergen and Allergy Risk Management (iFAAM) labelling online survey was developed for adults and parents of children with food allergy and distributed across Germany, Ireland, Netherlands, Spain and UK via patient support groups.

RESULTS: There were 1560 complete responses. 'This product is not suitable for' was selected as first choice for PAL by 46% overall and 'May contain' was selected as the first choice by 44%. Seventy-three percent reported that it would improve their trust in a product if a QRA process had been used to make a decision about whether to include 'may contain'. Overall, 66% reported that a 'statement + symbol' on the label indicating a QRA, would help them to understand the risk assessment process that had been used by the food manufacturer.

CONCLUSIONS: Consumers want to know what process has actually taken place for the placing of a PAL and/or risk assessment statement on a particular food product. Our findings provide a basis for the development of more informative communication around food allergen risk and safety and support evidence-based policy-making in the context of the legislative requirements of the European Union's Food Information for Consumers Regulation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1446-1454
Number of pages9
JournalClinical and experimental allergy : journal of the British Society for Allergy and Clinical Immunology
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2019


  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Allergens
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Decision Making
  • Female
  • Food Hypersensitivity
  • Food Labeling
  • Food Safety
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk Assessment
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


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