Around a quarter (23%) of hospitality workers do not feel confident about advising customers with allergies, with 68% feeling they require more information, according to a new report from Fourth.

The software provider commissioned new research as part of a report it has produced to help operators tackle the allergen challenges.

The survey also found that one in six workers claim not to receive regular training in this area, while 58% worry when customers ask them about menu items containing certain ingredients.

These figures jar with the responses from business leaders in the sector (obtained as part of the CGA Business Leaders survey), which found that 63% were ‘absolutely confident’ in their existing approach to allergens, and 64% regard it as a major focus.

While 73% of consumers surveyed believe they were not asked if they had any allergies on their last visit to a restaurant and 36% said they had experienced ingredients not listed on a menu appearing on their plate.

Sebastien Sepierre, managing director, EMEA, Fourth, said: “It is clear, from the tragic, high-profile customer incidents that we are all aware of, coupled with inconsistent experiences from venue to venue, that action is critical.

“As we cautiously look ahead to a restriction-free world, the importance of tackling the allergens challenge enters the fray once more, with the upcoming Natasha’s Law legislation reinforcing the immediacy and importance of the issue.”

It is estimated that 1-2% of the UK population are living with a diagnosed food allergy – equivalent to around two million people.

Dr Helen Brough, consultant in paediatric allergy at St Thomas’ Hospital, who contributed to the report, said: “For hospitality operators, this is an intricate challenge with a number of different elements. In order to prevent fatal accidents from occurring, it requires clear communication and collaboration across all businesses to establish, cement and execute best practices.”