Financial burden of allergen free food preparation in the catering business

A.R. Hoogeveen, Ine van der Fels*, A. Bonanno, M.G.E.G. Bremer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


This study aimed to quantify costs and benefits of allergen free food (food not containing ingredients that fall under the European labelling regime) production at a catering business under two scenarios. In scenario 1 the caterer provides information to the consumer regarding the presence of allergens in the meals served, uses allergen free ingredients in preparation of allergen free meals, but does not avoid cross contamination during food preparation. Scenario 2 expands upon scenario 1 as to also include the prevention of cross contamination during preparation of allergen free foods. A stochastic partial budgeting analysis was performed to simulate the costs and benefits in both scenarios, relative to the current situation of providing neither information regarding the presence of allergens nor serving allergen free meals. Costs values were based upon the adaptations necessary to comply with the two scenarios for an on premise catering location. Fixed and variable cost items were identified via literature review, critical inspection of the catering establishment, and expert opinion. Benefit items were identified and quantified via a questionnaire about willingness to pay and willingness to buy at a catering location, according to each scenario. Given the price increase of meals in accordance to the estimated willingness to pay, and using mean values of the distributions of the costs and benefit items, an investment payback time of 8.1 and 7.7 months was estimated for scenarios 1 and 2, respectively. However, with median values of the distributions, both scenarios were not profitable, since monthly net profits were estimated at € -413 and € -636 for scenarios 1 and 2, respectively. If additional costs are not passed on to the consumer, no scenario is profitable. Catering companies can use the methodology and results in their decision making process on serving allergen free foods.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)301-308
JournalQuality Assurance and Safety of Crops & Foods
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Food allergens
  • Partial budgeting analysis
  • Willingness to pay


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