Why Food Allergy Awareness is Important
Food allergy awareness can save lives but there are much wider benefits to individuals and businesses.
Did you know that according to The Association of UK, Dietitians 1-10% of adults and children have food hypersensitivity? On top of this, as many as 20% of the population experience some reactions to foods which makes them believe they do have a food hypersensitivity.
Since October 2021 the law has changed. All food businesses are expected to state if any of the 14 allergens (listed below and are the most common of food allergies) are present in the food they sell. It also requires them to not sell any food with an ingredient that a guest advises they are allergic to.
The 14 Most Common Food Allergy Ingredients:
- Cereals containing gluten such as wheat, rye, barley, oats, spelt or khorasan
- Crustaceans for example prawns, crabs, lobster, crayfish
- Milk (including lactose)
- Nuts such as almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, cashews, pecan nuts, Brazil nuts,
pistachio nuts, macadamia (or Queensland) nuts
- Celery (including celeriac)
- Sesame seeds
- Sulphur dioxide (>10mg/kg or 10mg/L)
- Molluscs for example clams, mussels, whelks, oysters, snails and squid
Food includes drink, so information on allergenic ingredients in alcoholic and non-alcoholic
drinks must also be given to customers on request.
What is a Food Allergy?
The NHS description of a food allergy is where your body reacts to certain foods. It’s often mild but can be very serious for some people. They also state: A food allergy is different from having a food intolerance, which causes symptoms such as bloating and tummy pain, usually a few hours after eating the food you’re intolerant to
What Are The Symptoms?
You need to understand what the symptoms are of a food allergy so you can react if needed. By you, I mean as a business owner ensuring you and all your staff are aware as well as any individual such as a waitress, chef or bar person working in a business.
Symptoms can come into effect straight after eating the food you’re allergic to, or days later.
- feeling dizzy or lightheaded
- itchy skin or a raised rash (hives)
- swelling of the lips, face and eyes (angioedema)
- coughing, wheezing, breathlessness, noisy breathing or a hoarse voice
- sneezing or an itchy, runny or blocked nose
- feeling sick or being sick
- tummy pain
4 Reasons To Be Food Allergy Aware
Being food allergy aware isn’t only about complying with the law but also provides other benefits and opportunities that we will discuss below.
1 Reduces Risk
From a business perspective, if you ensure all of your staff are fully trained in food allergy it reduces the risk of accidents happening. It minimises cross contamination in the kitchen and allows bar staff to understand what might cause an allergic reaction from any drinks they are serving. Therefore for you as the individual worker, it encourages you to ask if guests have any allergies and have the confidence to know what to serve and advise.
2 Enhances Customer Experience
Having a food allergy is not a fun experience. It can seriously impact someone’s life. When everyone in a business is food allergy trained it can enhance the customer experience. As you can imagine some customers may have a lot of questions regarding what ingredients are in the food, drinks and preparation stations. Knowing you are able to provide them with the information they need will put them at ease and make them feel in safe hands.
Some restaurants allow customers to speak directly to the Chef on duty. It will strengthen the confidence they have in the service provided. It also reassures them there will be no miscommunication between front of house and back of house staff.
3 Staff Morale
It might sound unrelated but imagine if you don’t emphasise food allergy within your business. You do the bare minimum. It may cause staff to think your approach to other key standards such as hygiene and safety is not important. On top of this, the attitude could run through the business causing an unbothered culture. In turn, this could damage a business’s reputation. Do you think people will want to come and work for a business with a bad reputation?
4 Lead The Way
Being fully food allergy aware is an opportunity to lead the way as a business or individual. Be known as the business, the chef or the bar person who creates a more joyful dining experience for allergy sufferers. Create new dishes and cocktails or bring in drinks that work around allergies where possible.
Building a reputation for handling and caring about food allergies will only boost your prospects.
If you work within hospitality and catering and are not fully food allergy trained we’d highly recommend starting with this free training from the food standards agency. Free Food Allergy Training.
Here at KSB Hospitality and Catering Recruitment Agency, we have been helping candidates find hospitality and catering jobs for over 30 years. If you would like us to help you in finding work click the link below, or contact us via [email protected] or 0121 314 9365. We can also support you to create an outstanding CV. Alternatively, if you are a business looking for staff, we can also help.