Characteristics of Food Allergic Reactions in United States Restaurants

Roxanne C. Oriel, Omar Waqar, Hemant P. Sharma, Thomas B. Casale, Julie Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Background: Food allergic reactions of varying severity occur in restaurants. Studies to date have shown that there are gaps in knowledge of and communication between restaurant staff and food allergic individuals. Objective: We sought to characterize allergic reactions in restaurants to better inform the restaurant industry, food allergic individual, and allergist so that mitigation strategies can be implemented. Methods: Data collected over a 2-year period from 2822 individuals in the Food Allergy Research & Education registry were analyzed using descriptive statistics. Results: Dining out accounted for the second most common location for a food allergic reaction, after one's home, and many were severe with 28.0% requiring 1 dose and 6.2% requiring 2 doses of epinephrine. Cafes, fast food establishments, and Asian restaurants were frequently implicated sites. Peanut, tree nuts, and milk were the most common inciting allergens, and tree nuts resulted in the most common use of epinephrine. Of the allergic reactions, 53.9% occurred despite conveyance of food allergy to restaurant staff, 26.6% occurred when allergens were declared on the menu, and 13.7% occurred when allergens were declared on the menu and restaurant staff were informed of a food allergy. Conclusions: Allergic reactions in restaurants are common and can be severe. Findings presented here underscore the need for restaurant staff training and mandatory declaration of allergenic ingredients in meals. This updated knowledge will help support advocacy efforts and inform patients, allergists, and the restaurant industry on best practices for dining out to improve the quality of life for food allergic individuals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1675-1682
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2021


  • Accidental ingestion
  • Allergic reaction
  • Dining out
  • Food allergy
  • Restaurant


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