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Understanding the Food Choice of Nut Allergic Consumers


<p>Thirty-two adult volunteers with a diagnosed peanut and/or tree nut allergy were recruited to the study. .Each participant took part in three tasks which were designed to gather qualitative information on how food allergic consumers make their food choices and food purchasing decisions. These tasks were:</p>

<li>An accompanied shop in their usual supermarket where participants were asked to talk aloud about what they were thinking when they chose each food product</li>
<li>An in-depth semi-structured interview which followed on from the accompanied shop and was conducted in each participants own home</li>
<li>A Product Choice Reasoning Task (PCRT) designed specifically for this study. Each participant was given 13 potentially problematic food products and asked to 'think aloud' and say if they would be happy to buy the product and how they reached their decision</li>

<p>The results from each of the above methods were recorded, transcribed and analysed considering key themes to identify patterns of behaviour and key factors involved in food purchasing decisions.</p>

More information

<p>Background: Peanuts and other nuts are an increasingly common cause of food allergy and are the most frequent cause of severe and fatal food allergic reactions. Avoidance of these trigger foods is therefore essential for those affected by nut allergies. This requires constant vigilance and can be difficult to achieve as the presence of nut allergens may not always be obvious and information about them may potentially be confusing to consumers.</p>

<p>At present, there are relatively few studies that have looked into the behaviour and decision making processes food allergic consumers tend to adopt to help them avoid food allergens that they are sensitive to, and how difficult they find this to achieve. In particular, little work has been carried out on what sources of information food allergic consumers find useful in making food purchasing decisions and how they use and interpret food labels and other information in the decision making process. Such research is needed by the Agency to help provide the UK food allergic consumer accurate and useful information to allow them to make safe and informed food choices. This study investigated how people with peanut and tree nut allergies use food labels and the types of strategies they adopt when selecting foods to minimise the risk of triggering an allergic reaction. </p>

University of Surrey
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