The Kentucky Restaurant Association is offering its members a discounted 90-minute webinar this month, produced by Kitchens with Confidence, a national food safety training organization based in Fort Collins, Colo.
Members can sign up for the webinar, "AllerTrain Managing Food Allergens and Gluten-Free in a Commercial Setting" through the KRA's website at kyra.org.
"Our members are asking more and more questions about these issues," said Stacy Roof, president and CEO of KRA. "Our ServSafe trainer (Lisa McLaughlin) took the AllerTrain class and said she learned so much that we decided to offer it to our members."
The information presented in the webinar complements the ServSafe classes, according to Betsy Craig, CEO of Kitchens with Confidence and a member of KRA.
"We cover things like identifying hidden allergens in common ingredients, avoiding cross-contamination in the kitchen and in the front of the house, and how to implement a restaurant-wide system to keep all diners out of the ER for dessert," she said.
There is no limit to the number of people who can participate in the webinar. It is geared for restaurant professionals, chefs, managers, owners and servers.
"As food allergies and sensitivities become more prevalent, everyone in the restaurant business needs to know more," Roof said. "We're seeing a lot of interest from multi-location operators right now, and we'll be offering more sessions of the webinar in the future to reach our smaller owners as well."
Craig also offers nutritional analysis for menu labeling through an associated company, MenuTrinfo.
The Pima County Health Department, which includes the Tucson, Ariz., market, recently signed a contract with MenuTrinfo to provide participating local restaurants with menu labeling and nutrition information services.
The company will assist restaurants in identifying menu items that meet the criteria for the Smart Choices for Healthy Dining Program, administered by the group Communities Putting Prevention to Work (CPPW), part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
With its February 2012 launch, the Smart Choices for Healthy Dining Program includes close to 30 eateries that have committed to providing at least three menu dishes that have zero trans-fats, less than 700 calories, 8 grams of saturated fat or less, 1,000 milligrams of sodium or less, and with a total of lower than 30 percent calories from fat.
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