28Research presented at the ACAAI annual meeting shows that people with food allergies who have never had food allergy reactions at a restaurant use more risk-reduction strategies when dining out.
Food allergies impact quality of life and present the risk of anaphylaxis and even death. Patients and families have a variety of strategies they may employ to reduce the risk of contact with a food allergen at restaurants. The researchers distributed a 25-question survey to assess dining preparation behaviors among members of a food allergy network in Ohio.
Among the 39 respondents, 19 reactions in restaurants were reported. Those who reacted used an average of risk-reduction six strategies prior to their most severe reactions, compared with an average 15 strategies used by those who had never had a reaction in a restaurant. After a reaction, those patients subsequently increased the number of strategies they used.
“When those with food allergies used more strategies in a restaurant, the result was fewer reactions,” said Justine Ade, MD, lead author of the study.
The top five strategies used were as follows:
- Speak to waiter on arrival (80%)
- Order food with simple ingredients (77%)
- Double check food before eating (77%)
- Avoid restaurants with higher likelihood of contamination (74%)
- Review ingredients on a restaurant website (72%)
The strategies used least often were as follows:
- Place food allergy order separately (23%)
- Use personal allergy card (26%)
- No longer eat at restaurants (39%)
- Choose a chain restaurant (41%)
- Go to restaurant off peak hours (44%)
“Eating out at a restaurant is a challenge for people with food allergies,” said allergist and co-author Leigh Ann Kerns, MD. “Finding strategies that work for you or your child can help to minimize the risk of reactions.”