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HASUK launches first report on food allergy near misses

13th Oct 2023 - 07:00
HASUK launches first report on food allergy near misses
HASUK (Hospitality Allergen Support UK) launched their first food allergy report on near misses with views and data from both consumers and the hospitality sector at the Mock Trial Food allergy prosecution event on Tuesday 26th September.

After analysing both the hospitality and the food hypersensitive (FHS) consumer survey, HASUK concluded it is apparent that there is a lack of consistency when managing near miss incidents.

HASUK are advocating that all hospitality businesses should have clear robust procedures to manage near miss incidents. The report found 59% of the hospitality sector admitted they were not confident in providing allergy information to customers.

According to Foods Matter, 44% of British adults now suffer from at least one allergy and the number of sufferers is on the rise, growing by around two million between 2008 and 2009 alone. Almost half (48%) of sufferers have more than one allergy – that is around ten million people.

A HASUK spokesperson said: “We created our near miss report because we wanted to understand how 44% of UK adults were being catered to with allergens. Our report is the first overview of the current situation with near miss reporting (an event or situation that could have resulted in injury, damage or loss but did not do so due to chance, corrective action and/or timely intervention)."

The coroner highlighted at the inquest of Natasha Ednan-Laperouse that if Pret had logged and monitored customer allergic reactions and feedback to the head office, then actions could have been in place to prevent Natasha’s death.

The report involving consumers (82 respondents aged between 18 and 70-years-old within the UK) found:

  • There were issues with food allergens outside the top 14 allergens as respondents found staff often assumed it wasn’t a serious allergy
  • 24% of respondents had to point out an allergy issue to staff
  • 23% of respondents cited customer service as flippant and uncaring when highlighting a near miss or allergy issue

The report involving hospitality found:

  • 41% of respondents are confident in providing allergy information leaving 59% not confident, which is a gap in knowledge exposing food service and allergy customers to risks

HASUK believe in the importance of recognising, reporting, and reviewing near miss incidents and to encourage a ‘no blame culture’. It is hoped this will encourage staff in the industry to report incidents and review procedures to minimise the risk of further incidents.

HASUK want their slogan to become the norm within the hospitality industry to keep staff and consumers safe: “Don’t Dismiss a Near Miss!” Recognise it, report it and review it.

David Pickering, lead officer for food issues at Chartered Trading Standards Institute, added: “Allergen issues can be life threatening so being able to look at data about near misses will help us take steps to prevent consumers being put at risk.

“We would rather work with businesses to support them to take steps to protect consumers than deal with the often devastating impact an adverse allergen reaction can have. Consumers should be able to eat out with the confidence that businesses are able to inform them what they can and can't eat safely.”

Download the HASUK report here.

Written by
Edward Waddell