Patients with Food Allergies Who Use More Risk-Reduction Strategies Have Fewer Reactions When Dining Out

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.”