Enhancing Allergen Compliance with Serve Legal

Reflecting back on 2023, Serve Legal’s clients have seen an overall 11% increase in allergen compliance – protecting not only businesses, but most importantly customer’s welfare and general enjoyment. We have seen a number of clients achieve a 100% pass rate in 2023 which has continued onto 2024 (YTD); we are proud to see increased focus on allergy safety being rewarded with these incredible statistics.

I have coeliac disease and servers always take a lot of concern to understand what that means and sometimes the manager comes to take my order instead. This makes me more confident to eat there. (Auditor Survey, April 2024)

When looking at allergens broken down by type of allergy across the sector, we notice how dairy allergies were 12% less likely, and gluten allergies were 16% less likely, to be correctly addressed in an audit procedure when compared to a nut allergy – subsequently resulting in a FAIL audit result. Recent insights from the Food Standards Agency (FSA) show some staff members confusing serious milk, eggs, crustaceans or molluscs allergies to veganism, often a personal dietary choice (Source). Whilst it is imperative that both are respected in eateries, cross contamination can be fatal for people with allergies and so must be taken especially seriously.

I often find that my allergies get pushed to "free from [everything]"/vegan sections. Lots of people assume I'm vegan, and I hate that as I'm actually allergic to a lot of vegan food, thus making it a pretty dangerous mistake.’ (Auditor Survey, April 2024)

We remain confident that food establishments and eateries need to be compliant in all aspects of allergy compliance to ensure customer welfare, safety and enjoyment. To further customer confidence, it is important to note how 70% of all respondents to our Allergen Survey (April 2024), even those without allergies, felt an increased confidence and comfort in an establishment that displayed allergy awareness materials in the venue – inevitably increasing their likelihood to dine there again. Most notably, 91% of respondents suggested that clear allergen information on the menu was the most important factor to ensuring confidence in an eatery – lining up with the work that the Owen’s Law campaign are currently championing.


Untitled-1 (40)

As we observe Allergy Awareness Week, it's crucial to acknowledge the challenges and opportunities presented in ensuring allergen compliance within the food industry. Serve Legal's comprehensive audit data and recent survey insights shed light on the current state of allergen information accessibility and staff preparedness. So what have we identified:

  • Retailers must prioritize the adoption of multiple accessible formats, such as printed materials and prominently displayed posters, to cater to diverse customer needs and mitigate risks associated with unreliable information.
  • Staff must feel confident with the necessary knowledge and skills to address allergen concerns safely.
  • Staff-initiated conversations about dietary requirements and allergies early in the dining process foster customer trust and confidence in venue compliance.
  • Displaying clear allergen information and posters across the eatery and it’s menus significantly increase customer trust.

Looking ahead Serve Legal remains committed to supporting food establishments in enhancing allergen compliance through comprehensive audits and data-driven insights. For more information on the research we conduct or the audit service we offer, please visit our Services Page or get in touch via businessenquiries@servelegal.co.uk to speak with a member of our team.