Response of food-allergic consumers to new allergen-labelling legislation in Saudi Arabia
Public Health Nutrition
Objective: Preventing a food allergy reaction depends primarily on eliminating allergens from the diet. In October 2019, the Saudi Food and Drug Authority (SFDA) introduced new legislation requiring food establishments providing and selling non-prepacked foods to state the presence of the top 14 food allergens on their menus. This study aimed to assess the allergen-labelling knowledge, practices, preferences and perceptions towards the new SFDA allergen-labelling legislation among consumers
... food allergy in Saudi Arabia. Design: Observational cross-sectional study using an online questionnaire. Setting: Saudi Arabia; February–March 2020. Participants: Residents of Saudi Arabia with food allergy (n=427), aged 18-70 years. Results: Among participants, only 28.1% knew that there were governmental regulations in Saudi Arabia regarding food-allergen labelling and approximately two-thirds (67%) check labels on prepacked food products for allergens. The majority of the participants preferred food products carrying safety statements (84.1%) and symbols (80.1%). A total of 47.1% were aware that regulations in Saudi Arabia require allergens to be declared in ingredient lists, while 48.7% were aware that advisory allergen labelling is mandatory. Only 26.2% were aware of the new SFDA legislation regarding provision of allergen information by food establishments. However, the majority (94.4%) were supportive of the new legislation, and most of them were more likely to eat at restaurants that reported allergen information for food items on the menu. Conclusions: The new SFDA food allergen-labelling legislation needs to be more widely and effectively disseminated to increase the level of awareness among adults with food allergy in Saudi Arabia.