Attila Pintér, Mónika Nagy, Viktória Szente, Eszter Szabó-Szentgróti, Orsolya Szigeti

Hungarian University of Agriculture and Biological Sciences, Kaposvár Campus

In the INTERREG GASTROTOP project, several studies were conducted in the field of food intolerance and allergy. The main goal of the research was the transfer of information to consumers, as the bearers of the problem, and gastronomy, as the solution to the challenge. In this report, we present the results of consumer demand research in southwestern Hungary, which can be used by the latter target group, that is, catering establishments (restaurants, pastry shops, hotels), assessing consumer needs.

In the survey questionnaire at the beginning in 2022, 219 people responded, several of whom also have multiple food sensitivities (the term will later be used together as a synonym for intolerance and allergy). The most frequently mentioned problem was lactose intolerance (41 people, 18.7%), gluten sensitivity (34 people, 15.5%) and milk protein sensitivity (27 people, 12.3%). Almost half of the respondents (54.8%) do not know about the allergen that affects them, but the fact that 68.5% of them have a close family member or friend who has to be very careful about what they eat or drink is certainly something to think about. This clearly draws attention to the need for well-prepared hosts. This is confirmed by the result according to which 54% of respondents who filled out the questionnaire visit restaurants (including meals in canteens) and pastry shops several times a month. Knowing the intervention steps and the possibility to avoid them is also important because 34% of them (or their close relatives, friends) already had an unpleasant problems such as allergies or some intolerance after visiting a restaurant.

The most frequently mentioned difficulties and problems were the following:

• Food served to exempted persons was not exempted

• Very limited selection

• Lack of food without dairy products

• They did not know which allergens their individual foods contained.

• The waiters did not know the ingredients.

• Cross-contamination.

In several cases, the food consumed caused stomach and intestinal problems, skin symptoms and difficulty breathing.

After that, we asked the respondents to state what kind of changes they would like to see in the hospitality industry. The results are shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1: The most important things in restaurants according to guests’ responses

The most important and perhaps the simplest measure to implement would be the educational work of the staff, to which the GASTROTOP project contributed through the conducted trainings, curriculum, study trips and project events. In addition, accurate indication of allergens on food and drink labels is expected, and fortunately, we can often find favorable examples of this.

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