Our good friend Hazel Gowland has been working with a team from Unilever on how people with food allergies actually shop and came up with these interesting, although not entirely surprising, conclusions:
Although self-reported, the pattern of food allergy reflects other studies. A minority of food-allergic individuals in GB, even among those reporting severe symptoms, have a formal diagnosis and most never come to the attention of health services, suggesting that food allergies are under-estimated while more severe reactors are over-represented in GB clinic populations. A substantial proportion of respondents regularly take risks when purchasing food including those reporting severe reactions, confirming that current application of precautionary labelling to mitigate and communicate risk is of limited effectiveness. Furthermore the failure of most food-allergic consumers to read labels on every occasion highlights the importance of thinking beyond legal compliance when designing labels, for example when adding an allergen to a product that previously did not contain it, the change should be flagged on the front of the pack to alert allergic consumers.
For more see Clinical and Translational Allergy here.