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Trying to eat out in a restaurant safely when you have food allergies is tricky. A survey of people with food allergies found that one in three had a reaction in a restaurant. CDC researchers from several states decided to understand more about manager, food worker, and server knowledge and attitudes about food allergies.

By learning more, we know what can be changed to make eating out safer for those with food allergies.

What did the study find?

The study found that managers and staff were generally knowledgeable about food allergies. They had positive attitudes about accommodating customers with food allergies.

However, some staff:

  • Incorrectly believed that people with food allergies could safely eat a small amount of their food allergen
  • Thought that their restaurant might not be able to respond to a food allergy emergency

Did the researchers make recommendations?

The CDC survey suggests that restaurants put in place three practices linked with better food allergy knowledge and more positive attitudes about serving customers with food allergies:

  • Having a plan for answering questions from customers with food allergies
  • Choosing a specific person in the restaurant to handle food allergy questions and requests
  • Training staff on food allergies


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I frequently visit restaurants and I'm allergic to shellfish. I make sure to check allergen menus or allergy free menus at the restaurants by asking them. Its really frustrating to know not many restaurant owners maintain such menu. I recently saw few restaurants showing allergy menus in smartphones with a small QR code on the wall with allergy poster. I think its from and they seem to teach these owners something. Few apps are out there too. But its really a pain to find out what they serve and what allergens are out there before I even order anything!

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