Researchers estimate that 5% of children and 3-4% of adults experience food allergies in western countries (Sicherer and Sampson, 2010), a number that has considerably increased in the last decades (de Silva et al., 2013). Allergic reactions cause eczema, diarrhoea, and vomiting in mild cases, and difficulties in breathing and drops in blood pressure in more severe ones, such as anaphylactic reactions (Panesar et al., 2013). Coma and even death are also possible consequences if no action is taken.
People living with food allergies have to avoid contact with allergens, but reactions cannot always be prevented. An important part of the activities people engage in are related with minimising the risks of allergic reactions. For example, while at home, families often create ‘safe places’ where presence of the allergens is prohibited (Pitchforth et al., 2011). However, when eating out, people have to rely on everyone being extremely careful with food, because utensils and hands can contaminate an otherwise allergen-free food portion. As a result, people living with allergies are often restricted to eating at a small number of restaurants that they know and trust.
This project aims to improve the choice of people living with food allergies when going out. The idea is to build a crowdsourcing platform where people living with food allergies can review their experiences in restaurants. Unlike TripAdvisor, this web application will be specifically developed with the issues of people living with food allergies in mind. Users will be able to know where to eat and what to eat, even if they never visited a particular restaurant.
Co-designed prototype for people with food allergies to review restaurants and meals.
Author: João Almeida
Type: MSc thesis
Partner: Faculdade de Engenharia da Universidade do Porto