“You can die from a food allergy, everything else is just an intolerance” … this is a (completely false) comment I recently overheard amongst my students following a debate about whether it is trendy to be allergic to certain foods.
Yes, an allergic reaction can kill you – but you don’t have to die to have an allergy. An allergic reaction can cause severe illness, anaphylactic shock, difficulty in breathing and many other serious consequences which can last for days.
There are clearly still a lot of myths and confusion over intolerances, allergies and coeliac disease.
Yes, it will probably happen that a customer may use the wrong term and describe what we in the catering industry know to be an intolerance, as an allergy. But when the stakes are life and death, you can’t take any chances.
If a customer says they have a food allergy, everyone in the catering business has a responsibility to protect them from eating the triggering allergen.
Education for all members of staff about the 14 major allergens, what foods contain them, risk of cross-contamination and procedures to prevent contamination are key.
That’s why I have developed a short quiz about recognising Food Allergens and best practice Food Allergen Management. You can download the quiz (and answer sheet) completely free from the Resources section.
I also offer a consultancy service, and I can help you to establish robust allergy matrices and processes for ordering, storing and preparing food allergens and helping all of your staff be allergy aware.
There are a number of Allergy Awareness Campaigns which you can also incorporate into your team meetings, to help raise awareness and start the conversation.
29thApril – 3rdMay Allergy Awareness Week 2019
6thMay – 12thMay Anaphylaxis Awareness Week 2019
13th– 19thMay Coeliac UK Awareness Week 2019
Or why not go a step further and join the Allergy Aware Scheme, giving both customers and Environmental Health Officers confidence that your business is doing everything it can to protect those with food allergies.
Rod Carver - Level 3 Food Safety Attendee
Academy Training Manager