Parents’ attitudes when purchasing products for children with nut allergy: A UK perspective

Authors


Dr L Noimark, Department of Paediatric and Immunology, St Mary's Hospital, Praed Street, London W2 1NY
Tel.: (44)2078861011
Fax: (44)2078861129
E-mail: lnoimark@hotmail.com

Abstract

Food avoidance remains the main strategy in prevention of anaphylaxis in children with acute food allergies. To achieve this aim, product labelling needs to be clear and accurate and parents educated on optimal avoidance measures. Food product labelling although improved often still remains ambiguous. The aim of this study was to understand and quantify the attitudes of parents of children with nut allergy towards labels informing that the product could contain nuts. An anonymous questionnaire was filled out by parents of children with nut allergy attending a tertiary paediatric allergy clinic to assess response to differing descriptive labelling of foods containing nuts. In 184 questionnaire responses, 80% of parents would not purchase a product labelled ‘not suitable for nut allergy sufferers’ or ‘may contain nuts’. However, other labels including ‘this product does not contain any nuts but is made in a factory that uses nuts’, ‘cannot guarantee is nut free’ and ‘may contain traces of nuts’ were avoided by only around 50% of parents. Previous allergic reaction to nut products had no bearing on outcome. Additionally, large numbers of parents did not read labels for the presence of nuts in non-food products. A large number of patients with nut allergy continue risk-taking by either ignoring warning labels on foods or assuming that there is a gradation of risk depending on the wording of label warnings. Further tightening of labelling legislation and improved education would help to decrease the risk of anaphylaxis.

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