Food allergy is a potentially life-threatening condition which must be taken very seriously. The importance of carefully prepping, storing and serving customers with food allergy cannot be understated. Coeliac Australia, Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia and the National Allergy Strategy are just some of the organisations that provide both free and paid training to the hospitality industry. FeedMeToo highly recommends that all foodservice staff undertake one or more of these programs.
KISS customers with food allergies
When serving customers with food allergy, remember to KISS – Keep It Separate. Simple.
- Label and store free-from food separately (above) from other food containing allergens
- Regularly check ingredient labels as they can change
- Prepare free-from foods with separate and easily identifiable utensils, on a clean or separate bench space
- Cook foods using clean or separate equipment, including cooking oils and pasta water
- Use separate and clearly labelled condiments, spreads and sauces that don’t contain allergens, crumbs or contaminants
- Use separate apron/gloves/teatowel when preparing food
- Communicate food requirements clearly to all staff
- Communicate all ingredients clearly to customers, and let them guide you
- Serve food separately – plate up on separate crockery and deliver it first
All about Allergens is a free training program for food service that has been designed by The National Allergy Strategy, a partnership between Australia’s peak allergy bodies, ASCIA and Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia (A&AA).
The content focuses on food preparation, handling and storage and highlights the importance of effective communication between the kitchen and other staff and consumers with food allergy. Three courses – two for general food service and another for camp providers – have been developed to provide information relevant to the specific settings. The first All about Allergens course should be completed before undertaking the follow-on course/s.
According to Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia, there are four things you can do to help prevent an allergic incident:
- Know what's in your food
- Be 100% truthful
- Prepare food safely
- Understand the consequences
The organisation has produced a recently updated food service kit to help guide food service businesses to better understand food allergy. This kit includes several posters, a set of food allergen cards, examples of their Chef Card for customers, information about free e-training and information on how they educate customers.
The National Allergy Strategy (NAS) has created a useful food substitution tool that provides a guide to ingredient substitution for the 10 most common food allergens. NAS also lists a number of valuable tools such as best practice guidelines for food allergen management and an example of a food allergen matrix. A blank template can be found on their website.
Coeliac Australia's Gluten Free Accreditation Program lets your customers know they can dine out at your venue with confidence.
Download this useful graphic of the most common food allergens created by the NSW Food Authority.
Coeliac Australia has developed the Gluten Free Standard for Food Service Providers. The material outlines each stage of the food preparation process and offers both mandatory and best practice principles. It consists of three main principles:
Source - ensuring all components on the gluten free menu are gluten free.
Segregate - ensuring that all the ingredients are free from cross contamination throughout all stages of meal preparation.
Service - staff training and ensuring clear communication lines between diner, front and back-of-house.
FeedMeToo has developed a handy tip sheet to help businesses avoid cross-contamination. This is delivered with every order as an ongoing reminder for staff. If you'd like a copy now, please get in touch.
The Australian Food and Grocery Council has a great deal of information for businesses that package or serve food/food products that contain or may contain allergens.
The Food Safety Centre Allergen Bureau is another worthwhile site to visit.