A third of employers are only relatively confident in their allergen procedures, while 68% of employees say they need more information, according to new research by Fourth.
Analysis commissioned by the software provider found that a quarter of more than 500 out-of-home food workers are not confident about advising customers with serious allergens.
This comes after research by CGA found that 64% of business leaders questioned considered addressing allergen procedures to be either a major focus or the single biggest challenge for their business.
Asked how confident they were in their procedures, 33% said only relatively confident, with 19% conducting training daily, 18% weekly, 37% monthly and 14% biannually.
Employees echoed this, with one in six saying they did not receive regular training and more than half (58%) saying they worry when customers asked if foods contain allergens. Only 40% of those asked could name the top 14 allergens listed by the Food Standards Agency.
The study also asked 1,000 consumers about their thoughts on allergens, with 89% feeling that operators needed to be more aware. Of those asked, 73% said they had not been asked about allergens on their last trip to a restaurant.
Carla Jones, chief executive of Allergy UK, said: "This kind of research is so important for a better understanding of food providers' knowledge and awareness of allergen management and, most importantly, the level of commitment to training in the industry.
"Allergy UK's Allergy Awareness Scheme is a recognition for catering businesses that have robust allergen management procedures in place to safeguard both their business and their food allergic customers."
Ben Hood, chief executive of Fourth, which has said it will look to create a Code of Best Practice on how to tackle this major operational challenge, said: "Collectively, these pieces of research – with workers, customers, and business leaders – show the urgent and pressing nature of the allergens challenge. While there is some evidence of pockets of progress, and some excellent working practices, as an industry we must collaborate to identify the best approach, and one that gives both our people and our guests absolute confidence and a consistent experience."
The Caterer has launched a new event to equip hospitality professionals with the knowledge and best practice advice to keep both customers and staff safe around allergens.
The Caterer's Allergens Summit is a half-day event, taking place on the afternoon of Wednesday 26 February at the Soho hotel in London, and is aimed at F&B operations and marketing professionals working within hotels, restaurants and foodservice businesses. Find out more here.