Food allergen knowledge, attitude and practices among UK consumers: A structural modelling approach

Soon, Jan Mei orcid iconORCID: 0000-0003-0488-1434 (2019) Food allergen knowledge, attitude and practices among UK consumers: A structural modelling approach. Food Research International, 120 . pp. 375-381. ISSN 0963-9969

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Food allergies are becoming more prevalent and affect up to 1 – 2% of adults and 5- 8% of children in the UK. This study investigated the food allergen knowledge, attitude towards food allergens and food allergy management practices among food allergic and intolerant consumers and / or their family members and carers. Questionnaires were distributed at three major Free From events in the UK in 2017 and 2018. Structural Equation Modelling (SEM) was used as a confirmatory technique to determine the model’s validity. Cereals containing gluten, milk and eggs were the most common triggers reported by the consumers. Other trigger foods such as chocolate, garlic, maize, onions, red and white meat, spices, and fruits such as apples and cherries were also reported. Consumers demonstrated very good understanding on the severity of allergic reactions, prevention method and hidden egg ingredients. Overall, consumers were relatively good in the knowledge section. The participants were motivated in their personal allergen avoidance towards food allergens especially in checking food labels, preference for more free from product choices and handwashing. Consumers did not rely on dietary apps or social media to find out about allergen-free food products. Both knowledge and attitude did not translate into food allergy management practices. Significant correlation between knowledge and attitude was identified suggesting that as knowledge decreases, so will their attitude scores. This study suggests that targeted and systematic food allergy management topics and peer support could be used to improve consumers’ knowledge and attitude to positively impact food allergen handling practices.

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