Risk communication when serving customers with food allergies in restaurants in the United States

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dc.contributor.author Wen, Han
dc.date.accessioned 2015-07-24T15:33:55Z
dc.date.available 2015-07-24T15:33:55Z
dc.date.issued 2015-08-01 en_US
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/2097/20109
dc.description.abstract Food allergies affect nearly 15 million Americans, and accommodating customers with food allergies has become a challenge for the restaurant industry. One third of the fatal food allergy reactions occurred in restaurants, and it is important for the restaurant industry to properly communicate and manage the food allergy risks. This study explored perceived risks and risk communication related behaviors of restaurant staff when serving customers with food allergies by using both qualitative (interviews) and quantitative (online survey) approaches. Telephone interviews with 16 restaurant managers were audio-recorded, transcribed verbatim, and organized to identify themes. Most participants were aware of the severity of food allergy reactions but perceived that it was the customers’ responsibilities communicating their food allergies with restaurant staff before placing their orders. Training for service staff on food allergies and risk communication topics were limited, and some managers perceived such training unnecessary for restaurant business. Findings from interviews were used to develop an online survey instrument. The survey instrument was pilot-tested and distributed to restaurant employee panels by an online survey research firm. Of 1,328 accessed the survey, 316 usable survey responses (23.8%) were collected from full-service restaurant service staff. Data analyses included descriptive statistics, independent samples t-test, ANOVA, and regression analyses. Results indicated that limited information about food allergies was provided on printed (35.1%) or online menus (28.2%), and very few restaurants had separate menus (8.5%) or complete ingredient lists (14.6%) for customers with food allergies. Meanwhile, restaurant servers lacked knowledge about common food allergens (12.7% correct), differences between food allergies and intolerances (34.2% correct), and government regulations related to food allergies (15.5% correct). Most restaurant servers (82.0%) agreed or strongly agreed that initiating communication and preventing food allergy reactions were responsibilities of customers with food allergies. Perceived severity of food allergy reactions, previous communication training, sources of media exposure, and perceived responsibilities of preventing food allergy reactions were found to influence restaurant servers’ risk reduction and communication behaviors (R²=0.367, p<0.001). Restaurateurs, foodservice educators, food allergy advocates, and policy makers may use these findings when developing food allergy training and strategies to prevent food allergy reactions in restaurants. en_US
dc.description.sponsorship Graduate School of Kansas State University en_US
dc.language.iso en_US en_US
dc.publisher Kansas State University en
dc.subject Food allergy en_US
dc.subject Restaurant en_US
dc.subject Manager en_US
dc.subject Servers en_US
dc.subject Risk perception en_US
dc.subject Risk communication en_US
dc.title Risk communication when serving customers with food allergies in restaurants in the United States en_US
dc.type Dissertation en_US
dc.description.degree Doctor of Philosophy en_US
dc.description.level Doctoral en_US
dc.description.department Hospitality Management and Dietetics en_US
dc.description.advisor Junehee Kwon en_US
dc.subject.umi Communication (0459) en_US
dc.subject.umi Health Education (0680) en_US
dc.subject.umi Management (0454) en_US
dc.date.published 2015 en_US
dc.date.graduationmonth August en_US

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