Protecting Your Customers—Protecting Your Business

Food Allergen Blog

Protecting Your Customers—Protecting Your Business

Protecting your customers against allergens is more important than ever. According to the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN), 12 million Americans have a food allergy. The most common among them are peanuts, tree nuts, soy, fish, milk, shellfish, eggs, and wheat. This means that potentially deadly allergens are in a very high percentage of the foods you prepare. It is more important than ever to train your staff to ask the right questions, implement proper procedures, and take necessary precautions. Here is a short list of tips that will help you protect your business, and your customers, from the risk of allergen exposure.

  • Consider posting an online allergen guide for your customers to check ahead of time. This will let your customers know you are aware of the growing allergen problem, and you are taking proactive measures to safely meet their dietary needs. It can also be used as a training tool for your employees.  
  • Make sure your staff knows the difference between an allergy and intolerance. It is significant. While a food intolerance may generate more moderate symptoms, a food allergy can bring on an immediate, severe, and life threatening reaction. Your staff needs to know that it’s not enough to simply remove an allergen from a menu item (i.e...the cheese from the cheeseburger). In most cases, dishes need to be re-prepared from scratch.  
  • Your customers are relying on your staff to know menu ingredients and kitchen procedures. Make sure everyone is trained, from your hostess, to your wait people, to your chef. Training programs are available to help you educate your team on safe handling and delivery procedures.
  • Be prepared, especially when you’re busy. People with allergies need to be comfortable dining in your establishment at any time. Minimize the risk, and maximize efficiency by providing your staff with color coded allergen system—knife, cutting board, thermometer, tongs, turner, and case. The San Jamar Saf-T-Zone™ System is a great complement to existing procedures. Color coding makes it easy to keep separate from other boards, easy to locate during a busy shift. It alerts staff to follow special procedures. 
  • In most foodservice operations customers eventually become friends. Treasure those relationships. Open a dialogue with your customers. Encourage them to call ahead with questions and special requests. Let them know it is okay for them to talk to your staff about their allergies. 

Click here for more information on implementing safe allergen food handling procedures in your foodservice operation?