Food Allergies and Staff Preparation

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Food Allergies

It’s lunch time and the café chairs are filling with guests ready for
their midday meal.  One of your wait
staff then gets asked a very important question: “Are there nuts in this?” Right there, warnings should be going off,
why would a guest ask if there are nuts in the food they are asking about?


The answer, more than likely, is fairly simple—they have a food
allergy. One surefire way to lose
business is by making your guests sick, and people can get very sick, and can
even die, from ingesting something they are allergic to. One of the most common allergies out there is
tree nuts, such as almonds, walnuts, pecans, cashews, etc. So what are some ways that a restaurant can
be prepared for when a guest has a food allergy?


Natural Flavoring
It is not an easy task to find out what foods could contain potential
allergens.
Some food providers are not
very forthcoming on the actual ingredients of their products. In order to
protect their recipes, they will sometimes list “natural flavoring,” as opposed
to what is actually used.

How is a restaurant to keep up? One option is to have a detailed list of all food items and ingredients
available for the staff of the restaurant—but where would you keep such a
list? Many restaurants may have a
paper-based card file featuring nutritional information somewhere within the
restaurant for their employees to access. Other options may be to call corporate support for assistance, or to
simply try to do a manual ingredient check. These options can be a tad cumbersome, especially on a busy Saturday or during
the lunch rush.


Look Online
For some of the larger restaurants, one option is to have all of this
information available at the very fingertips of their staffs, by storing it
online. When the details are stored on their network, a restaurant’s staff can
do a simple search for what they need.

Enterprising restaurants can even provide links to, or integrate with,
the USDA Nutritional Database, thereby giving them better access to the needed
information. Updating something on a
network is far easier than waiting for and updating a binder with new papers
and new information. When using a
networked solution for their ingredients and nutritional information, it will
be easier for restaurants to identify which foods may contain potential
allergens for their sensitive customers. With that information available, it will be easy to set that customer
sitting in the booth in your restaurant at ease, and your staff can assure him
that there are no tree nuts in his chef salad—and they know to avoid any
contact with the pecan crusted chicken while handling his food.