Serve Legal was delighted to attend Anaphylaxis UK’s Business Symposium on December 4, 2023, in London—an event shedding light on the pressing challenges surrounding allergy safety. Here is a glimpse into the insightful discussions and crucial takeaways that the Serve Legal team took from their attendance at the symposium.

Understanding the Allergy Landscape

The symposium began by emphasizing the alarming rate in allergies among children, with a prevalence of 2-3%, surpassing the 1% rate in adults. The highest age group for intensive care admissions related to allergic reactions was noted to fall within the 15-30 age range, highlighting the critical need for heightened awareness and effective measures across the industry within this age group.

Serve Legal’s CEAA (Customer Experience Allergen Audits) aim to stress-test exactly this problem. Through a robust and bespoke test of how staff communicate and care for customers who are vulnerable to allergies, we can provide retailers with the understanding that their staff have on the ground and where they may be in need of further training. These tests ensure that when people with allergies attend the food establishment, they can be assured by the due diligence of the wider business and the training of the staff member to support them as best as possible.

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Finding the 'sweet spot' emerged as a crucial theme—nurturing self-efficacy in individuals managing their allergies while fostering awareness of the potential risks. This balance is pivotal to empower those with allergies to confidently navigate their surroundings and not feel confined by their allergies.

Key Challenges Faced by People with Allergies

  1. Lack of Allergy Training for Staff:
    • The symposium speakers identified a critical gap in allergy training for staff in restaurants. Training programs should encompass the basics of allergies and the severe consequences of an allergic reaction. The further that staff can be trained and the establishment can be recognised as a space for people with allergies, the more welcome customers will feel as a result.
  2. Empathy and Understanding:
    • Guest speakers underscored the need for increased empathy and understanding among staff regarding the seriousness of allergies. Bridging this gap is essential for creating safer environments.
  3. Inconsistencies in Allergy Information Presentation:
    • Disparities in how allergy information is presented across various businesses were discussed. Standardisation is crucial to avoid confusion, ensuring that allergy matrices and menus convey information uniformly to assure each and every customer.

Insights from Clare Bristow and the Sadie Bristow Foundation

Clare Bristow, representing the Sadie Bristow Foundation, emphasised the imperative nature of communication in staff support for customers with allergies. Serve Legal acknowledge how for such a fast paced industry as hospitality, maintaining and training staff is a challenge which can result in gaps in knowledge. This insight reinforced the human aspect of allergy management, ensuring each customer is heard to ensure the best repour is created between the server and customer.

Upcoming Regulatory Changes

Trading Standards Involvement:
  • A notable announcement indicated that Trading Standards will soon assess the availability of allergy information in food premises. This underscores the urgency for businesses to align with company policies and test their sites nationwide. This is a task that can be efficiently facilitated by Serve Legal's Customer Experience Allergen Audit service.
FSA's Perspective:
  • The Food Standards Agency (FSA) highlighted concerns about an overreliance on written allergy information in some businesses. They stressed the importance of informed conversations between staff and customers to complement written information.
  • It has since been announced that following its December Board meeting, the FSA has confirmed its backing of the Owen’s Law Campaign. The FSA now promote the belief that written allergen information should be a legal requirement on menus, instead of just guidance. This written allergy information should be mandatory in conjunction to an expectation that food business staff are engaging in a verbal conversation with customers to ensure an added layer of protection for people with allergies.

A Stellar Event and Closing Thoughts

The symposium, expertly curated by Simon Williams of Anaphylaxis UK, provided a holistic view of the challenges faced by individuals with serious allergies. Insights from industry wide speakers contributed to a comprehensive understanding of the ongoing efforts to better support this community.

Serve Legal remains committed to championing awareness, fostering empathy, and providing practical solutions to create safer spaces for everyone, especially those managing allergies. As we reflect on the symposium, the collective resolve to address these challenges and drive positive change is stronger than ever.

To enquire further about our Customer Experience Allergen Audits, or our wider compliance services, get in touch via