OBJECTIVE: Asthmatic reactions to foods and drinks are a significant health problem in the community, however, the true extent of this problem is unclear. In this study, a new food allergy questionnaire (FAQ) was designed to specifically investigate the prevalence and characteristics of asthmatic reactions triggered by alcoholic drinks, as well as other foods and chemicals. The questionnaire's validity and reliability were assessed by comparing respondents' answers with data from clinical interview and repeat application. METHODS: Twenty consecutive outpatients attending a Hospital Asthma Clinic completed the FAQ and subsequently were interviewed independently by their respiratory physician. The FAQ's ability to classify the asthma severity and atopic status of respondents, and to identify those asthmatics sensitive to alcoholic drinks, sulphite-containing foods and aspirin was assessed by comparison with clinical interview. The questionnaire's reliability was assessed in a separate and diverse community group of 20 asthmatic volunteers using the test-retest method. RESULTS: Responses to the FAQ were found to correlate highly with assessment by clinical interview for all of the parameters assessed. Specifically, the FAQ identified reactions to alcoholic drinks with a coefficient of agreement of 88.9%, a sensitivity of 100%, and a specificity of 83.3%. Responses to the FAQ were also found to be reproducible for all of the parameters assessed. CONCLUSION AND IMPLICATIONS: The FAQ is a useful and reliable tool for assessing the sensitivity of asthmatics to alcoholic drinks and various foods and chemicals, and provides a means to collect data relating to the prevalence and characteristics of these responses in community-based populations.