Study: Food Service Workers are Willing But Know Little About Food Allergies

A team from the University of Pennsylvania identified 233 quick-service restaurants in the Center City District of Philadelphia and conducted a study of the 187 that agreed to participate. Staff were asked to respond to a tablet-based survey that assessed their knowledge, attitudes, and practices related to food allergy.

The results were both heartening and disturbing: “Despite their high motivation to help food allergic patrons, respondents knew little about how to prevent or respond to adverse events,” as quoted in the summary on the American Public Health Association (APHA) website.

While 89% of the respondents stated they were willing to take extra care in accommodating a customer with food allergies, none was able to name all the steps necessary for optimum prevention of food allergy adverse events, such as checking ingredient labels, cleaning utensils and work surfaces, and changing gloves.

When asked how they would respond in the case of an anaphylactic emergency, 79% responded they would call 911, but only 20% mentioned the need for the prompt administration of epinephrine.

The full study will be presented at the annual meeting of the APHA this November.

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