According to The Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASCIA), food allergy occurs in around 10% of infants, 4-8% of children and 2% of adults in Australia and New Zealand. The most common food allergens are cow's milk (dairy), egg, peanut, tree nuts, sesame, soy, fish, shellfish and wheat, but it’s possible for almost any substance that is eaten to trigger an allergic reaction.
Mild to moderate food allergic reactions are common in Australia and New Zealand. However, some food allergies can be severe, causing life threatening reactions known as anaphylaxis. Thankfully, severe reactions due to food allergy are less common and deaths from anaphylaxis are rare. Most allergic reactions to foods can be prevented by careful food allergen avoidance.
While it’s impossible for any kitchen to be 100% allergen-free, there are some simple things you can do to ensure your food business is as safe as possible for your customers.
- Add a note to your menu asking customers to inform their server if someone in their party has a food allergy.
- List ingredients on your menu and website to keep customers informed, even if they’re ordering food for delivery or collection.
- Incorporate a consistent system of symbols to denote which of the main allergens are present in each of your menu items so that customers can quickly and easily identify which items to avoid.
- Be sure to keep any allergen-related information as up to date as possible. Reliable automated menu and allergen management technology is the safest, most effective way to manage this.
In the kitchen
- Regularly read all ingredients and allergen information for products as manufacturers can sometimes change ingredients without warning. Think of where less obvious allergens may occur, e.g. pre-prepared sauces or gravies may be made using Worcestershire sauce, which contains the allergen fish and may contain soy, too.
- Avoid cross contact or contamination. Wash and sanitise cookware, utensils, equipment and surfaces after handling food allergens. If possible, use separate equipment for food prep that includes common allergens. Ensure that cooks and chefs wash their hands and change gloves before and after encountering known allergens.
- Double check all orders before they leave the kitchen.
Front of house
- Servers should be trained to ask about food allergies when customers are first seated; doing this prior to ordering helps those with allergies to feel welcome.
- It’s important to build trust. When customers have questions about potential allergens in your dishes, you need your staff to be knowledgeable and confident. Nominate one or two staff members as ‘Allergy Champions’, responsible for answering all allergy queries from customers.
- Train staff to deliver allergen-sensitive meals separately, avoiding close proximity to other food plates.
- Remember, if a customer has an allergic reaction, do not hesitate to call the emergency services.
“The automated element of Nutritics software helps us take away some risk, particularly around the substitution process. We know that will be flagged to us and can then be managed.”
– Nutritics customer Amy Roberts, Managing Director of Operations at Holroyd Howe.
With our database of reliable, verified and up-to-the-minute allergen information, Nutritics makes it easy to keep your food business as allergy-friendly as possible. Our software allows for allergen and nutrition information to be calculated automatically based on the ingredients, quantities and cooking methods used in your recipes, while our publishing and labelling capabilities can instantly update this information across your digital menus.
To explore how Nutritics can help you keep your customers safe from food allergies, chat to one of our in-house experts today.