Handling Food Allergies In Restaurants And The Allergy Matrix

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Handling Food Allergies In Restaurants

All of us who work in the Hotel and Food & beverage industry, need to understand the consequences of not taking seriously any food allergy matter. The tiniest trace of a food allergy on a guest’s plate could make them ill and destroy your restaurant’s reputation. We can avoid all of that if we all are properly trained on handling food allergies with our guests and by following one simple rule, “Always ask, never assume“. A lot of people are allergic to a lot of things, like dairy, cereals, mustard, sesame seeds, and more and more.

What Can Happen?

An allergic reaction can happen anytime, anywhere. Let’s take for an example happened to a Hotel some time ago:

Jessica is celebrating her 25th birthday in a hotel and she is about to enjoy her meal with her friends at the main restaurant. Jessica is allergic to sesame seeds and she didn’t inform the hotel before that of which the hotel confirmed they would take extra precautions with her meals. Traces of this particular allergy found their way to her birthday cake and Jessica’s heart sank immediately. Thanks to the fast-acting staff on calling emergency services Jessica’s life was saved.

The story above could have escalated quickly and people like Jessica might not be so lucky. Food allergies cause different reactions to different people. Some might just get some stomach pain by eating peanuts while others might have more serious pain which could lead them to even worse scenarios.

How To Handle Food Allergies?

Handling food allergies is not only the responsibility of the waiter/server, the manager, or even the head chef. It is the collective reasonability of every team member working on the property and the guests they serve. So, let’s have a look below at the proper and efficient way of handling food allergy scenarios:

  1. Knowing The Common Food Allergens: There are more than 150 food allergens but 14 of them are the most common which every person working in the Hotel/Restaurant industry should know and understand. Those are Milk, eggs, peanuts, nuts, soya, wheat, fish, crustaceans, mollusks, sesame, mustard, celery, lupin, sulfur dioxide, and sulfites. Each team member working at the restaurant should be aware and understand all of the common food allergens. Also, the menu at the restaurant should highlight on their menu the allergens of the menu items to indicate which dishes are gluten-free, vegan, or nut-free.
  2. Train The Staff: Each person working directly with the guests should be trained first to know and understand the common food allergens and secondly, they should be aware of the risks and symptoms of food allergies, and how to prevent cross-contamination in the kitchen and dining areas.
  3. Communication With The Guest: Communication is the key to everything, especially when it comes to such a serious matter as handling food allergies. While taking the order, even if the guest didn’t mention that he is allergic to any particular item, we should always ask them if they have any food allergies or special dietary requests.
  4. Informing The Manager And The Chef In Charge: After the order has been taken and presuming that your guest has a food allergy to certain allergens, you need immediately to inform the Chef in charge and your manager as well. Your manager will follow up with the chefs to make sure that the food will be cooked as requested and that contamination will be avoided inside the kitchen. Your manager and the head chef will also make sure that the food will be cooked in a completely separate area, with separate utensils to reduce the risk of potentially fatal cross-contamination.

The Allergy Matrix

allergy-matrix-1024x335 Handling Food Allergies In Restaurants And The Allergy Matrix

For those who don’t know what Allergy Matrix is, well in simple words the allergy matrix is an allergen menu that shows all the foods on the menu and points out which ones might cause allergic reactions. It tells you if any of the menu items contain ingredients that commonly cause allergies or if there’s a chance they’ve come into contact with those allergens during preparation. Basically, each restaurant should have a food and beverages allergy matrix as it’s part of the Food Safety protocols.

Make sure you and your team are trained about the allergy matrix as it’s an important step in handling food allergies at the restaurant.

Frequently Asked Questions:

  1. <strong><em>How To Handle Food Allergies In Restaurants?</em></strong>

    By firstly, knowing the common food allergens, secondly, your staff should be trained about all the allergens and know the allergy matrix of the menu. Thirdly you need to communicate with the guest and inform your manager.

  2. <strong><em>What Is The Menu Allergy Matrix?</em></strong>

    The allergy matrix is an allergen menu that shows all the foods on the menu and points out which ones might cause allergic reactions.

All the images in this post are not copyrighted and have been created by the author of this post. 

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Adriatik
Adriatik
The founder and owner of Hotels & Hoteliers. A hotelier with over 15 years of experience working in different international branded Hotels. My Expertise is mainly in Food & Beverages and Front Office.

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