6 steps to promote staff, customer allergen awareness
In part one of this series, I discussed several legislative measures state and local municipalities have taken in regard to the improvement of allergen-awareness within the restaurant space.
Through our AllerTrain certification courses, we have been teaching the importance of allergen awareness since 2011 to foodservice operators and their staff across the country. We created classes to help those looking to improve their own understanding of the issue and how to safely serve diners with allergies.
We recommend some of the following steps when it comes to protecting your restaurant, your staff and your customers.
- Print your recipes and make them available to staff so everyone knows what ingredients are in your dishes, and what needs to be changed to accommodate diners with allergens. Make sure everyone knows the alternate names for the big 8 allergens. Click here to review a list of alternate names for allergen ingredients, developed by Food Allergy Research & Education.
- Create a policy for both your front-of -house and back-of-house. This policy should reflect how each person should handle and react to questions about allergen-free menu items. Policies also should include the resources you use in your restaurant to handle special dietary needs and how your staff handles customers with special requests.
- Have a disclaimer up in your restaurant that explains to customers the need to alert their server if someone has a food allergy. Post your disclaimer on your website, paper menus and menu boards and make them easy to see. Your disclaimer should let everyone know the efforts and the lengths your restaurant has gone to accommodate diners with special dietary needs. For example, if you own a pizzeria include the fact that dishes are made in locations and on surfaces that also use flour.
- Wipe down every surface first with soapy water and a clean rag. Once that process is complete, use sanitized cloths to wipe the surfaces again.
- Identify special dietary meals, such as allergen-free dishes, and highlight them on your menus and menu boards. You can do this through the use of a special icon next to those dishes.
- Use specially marked tools and plates in the kitchen that are only used for allergen-free dishes. I was just at the National Restaurant Association, Hotel-Motel Show in Chicago and I saw some great tools that can go into food that are purple. Purple is the color in our kitchen now that identifies allergy-friendly food items. So whether it is a frill pick, purple pick, double plate or green plate, use something to identify how that meal leaves the line and makes it to the table safely and intact.
Follow these steps to ensure the health and safety of your diners and the protection of your staff when it comes to safely serving allergen friendly restaurant. And don't hesitate to contact us if you have further questions or concerns about safely serving your specialty needs customers.
Betsy Craig / Betsy Craig brings 20 years of food service industry experience to MenuTrinfo, LLC a menu nutritional labeling Company. Her commitment to the betterment of the food industry and her desire to affect the dining public are the driving forces behind her new company Kitchens with Confidence, LLC.