|Identify and manage potential risks|
There can be many possible allergy-related risks when preparing and serving food. However, understanding what the risks are and where they can occur is crucial for any foodservice establishment. This is especially important when dealing with ingredients and the potential for cross-contamination.
Here are some tips to consider:
- Make sure you have complete and up-to-date ingredient lists from suppliers
- Check all ingredients on pre-packaged foods
- Do not substitute or add ingredients not in the approved recipe
- Identify all potential risks in the flow of food (from receiving to serving)
Cross-contamination – Identify how it can occur
- Human contact (e.g. hands, gloves)
- Food contact (allergen to non-allergens)
- Utensils and surfaces
- Grills, fryer, slices
Within any establishment, clear and consistent communication is essential. This applies to both staff and consumers. It is important that all staff is familiar with your internal allergen management process and specifically how information is provided to the consumer. This requires setting up a process for relaying consumer questions and concerns to senior staff (e.g. manager or chef) and in turn, providing allergic consumers with information they need to select a safe menu option or product. The main point of contact for any allergy-related inquiry should always be the chef or manager.
Be prepared for an emergency
Even though allergic customers are responsible for managing their allergies and being prepared to treat a reaction, it’s important for staff to be able to identify and respond in the event of an emergency. Every establishment should have a documented emergency plan and this should be shared with all staff. The plan must include directions to staff to call 9-1-1 or local emergency services as soon as possible. It is important that the allergic individual receive epinephrine (eg. EpiPen®,Twinject® or Allerject™ auto-injector) immediately.
Managing food allergies can be a challenging task in the food industry, but with the proper processes and strategies in place, you can do your part in helping to minimize the risks for allergic consumers in your establishments. Your allergic customers will really appreciate the effort you took to keep them safer.
Where to find more information
*Overall Prevalence of Self-reported Food Allergy in Canada, L. Soller et al, Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (2012). doi: 10.1016/j.jaci.2012.06.029
About the author:
Beatrice Povolo, is the director of marketing and communications for Anaphylaxis Canada. www.anaphylaxis.ca