The study found that only 5% of birthday and character-specific cakes sold in supermarket stores online are free from gluten or egg.
Tesco had 40 allergen-free options, with 17 of those being birthday or character themed – however, the majority of these were nut-free (16). Sainsbury’s had the widest selection of dairy- (8) and egg-free (7) cakes, but only one was birthday or character themed.
Hardest allergen to avoid
Ocado had the best filter options for allergies, but had the least selection of allergen-free cakes (2). Overall, gluten-free was the hardest allergen to avoid with only 4% of cakes under the birthday and celebration tab being gluten-free.
Similarly, egg-free cakes were also hard to source, making up just 5% of all the options available through retailers’ websites. A total of 40% of cakes were listed as nut-free.
Commenting on the research, YorkTest nutritionist Sal Hanvey said: “Birthday cakes are a core memory from most of our childhood birthday parties. UK supermarkets offer various birthday, superhero, princess and football-themed cakes, however, most contain some of the most common allergens, milk, eggs and wheat.
‘Severe anxiety for parents’
“Not only could this cause severe anxiety for the parent, but it can also take weeks or months to get tested. To find out what you or your child’s allergies or intolerances are, we suggest testing together with our Parent & Child Food Intolerance Bundle, so that for their next birthday you can find them the perfect cake.”
Meanwhile, coeliacs in the UK face a cost of health crisis, as the rapid increase to the cost of living threatens to price them out of gluten-free diets,c according to Coeliac UK.
In its new report, ‘The Gluten Free Diet – How much does it cost and why does it matter’, the organisation raised awareness of the additional challenges – and coasts – being faced by the coeliac community.