September 3, 2015

Food Allergy Best Practices

Nuts are a common food allergy that can cause severe reactions.

Nuts are a common food allergy that can cause severe reactions.

Allergies are serious concerns for restaurants. Because food allergy reactions are often severe, following best practices in a kitchen can mean life or death for a customer. It’s wise to build allergy-safe habits as early in your career as possible. Students attending cooking classes in Austin, Texas, will be well-served by learning all they can about food allergies and how to prevent a serious reaction.

Types of Allergies
There are a few different types of allergic reactions, all of which should be taken seriously. The most well-known allergic reaction is anaphylactic shock. This is when there is a severe, total-body response to an allergy that can cause death. While this is the most common concern with food allergies, it is not the only possibility. Food allergies like celiac disease (gluten allergy) are marked by immediate gastrointestinal distress and can cause long-term intestinal damage. Although not technically an allergy, intolerances such as lactose or alcohol intolerance can cause symptoms similar to food poisoning.

Best Practices 

  • Ensure that the wait staff understands the ingredients of all the dishes, or always asks cooking staff when allergy concerns are brought up.
  • If a guest reports an allergy, be sure all kitchen staff who will work on that person’s food know about the allergy.
  • Never allow any of the allergens to come in contact with the food, or come in contact with someone preparing the food. If this occurs, reprepare the dish.
  • Clearly list common allergens on the menu.
  • Treat all allergy requests seriously: Never assume a diner is lying to manipulate staff.
  • Use color-coded utensils and surfaces to prepare allergen-free food.
  • If the nature of your restaurant means that there is currently no safe way to prepare allergen-free food, inform customers. Do not attempt to make allergen-free dishes if the kitchen is not equipped to do so.