UK consumers call for better labelling as half consume food excluded from their diets

With news of tougher food labelling laws being proposed to prevent further deaths of people with allergies, new research has found that a staggering 55% of UK consumers have unintentionally consumed food restricted from their diet.

Over two thirds (70%) of respondents have been served the wrong food as result of an error by the waiting staff in bars and restaurants, the top cause for unintentionally consuming restricted foods.

42% of Brits with allergies, intolerances or lifestyle diets named poor food labelling as the second most common reason for purchasing incorrect products

The study, commissioned by Spoon Guru, surveyed consumers throughout the UK who have food allergies, intolerances or lifestyle diets.

Over half (55%) of those trying to reduce salt, fat or sugar intake, struggled with vague or non-existent ingredients labelling when trying to find the right products, the same story applied to 53% of vegans. Additionally, 70% of shoppers with severe allergies or intolerances indicated that they struggle to identify the right food for their dietary needs.

While grocery shopping is a simple task for most, almost 16% of those surveyed find it daunting. The research revealed 22% of those looking to remove palm oil find it challenging to match products to their preferences.

Markus Stripf, CEO and co-founder of Spoon Guru, said: “With an increase of UK consumers adopting exclusion diets, whether due to medical reasons, intolerance or simply as a lifestyle choice, there is a clear need to make food discovery much more inclusive.

“The study found there is astounding support (99%) for the idea that retailers should go above and beyond the current regulations to improve ingredient clarity, and the general feeling among UK consumers is for on-trade and off-trade retailers to take more accountability where food labelling is concerned.

“Interestingly, the data revealed that an overwhelming 83% of consumers believe that the use of technology will be a key enabler to solving the shortcomings surrounding food labelling transparency. While there are a lot of learnings and discussions to be had about how to make food discovery and shopping accessible, the great news is that more and more food businesses like restaurants and retailers are open to using smart technology as a platform to cater for people who have specific dietary requirements.”

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