4 Steps to Food Allergen Confidence in your Business
As the rollercoaster of 2020-2021 continues, Natasha’s Law is on the horizon. Now while everyone will agree that it’s a positive change and will no doubt save lives, many in the food, catering and restaurant industries are understandably nervous and concerned about how they’re going to rise to the challenges presented by the new rules on food labelling.
Natasha’s Law – which doesn’t affect all food producers and sellers – is likely to be just the start of more stringent regulations around food labelling and allergen knowledge across the board.
The thought of a customer having an allergic reaction as a result of eating at your business is frightening, and it can feel easier to just disclaimer all allergies by saying you can’t make any guarantees that your food won’t contain traces of allergens.
But food allergies are not going away. The Food Standards Agency (FSA) estimates that there are around 2 million people in the UK with diagnosed food allergies and for some of those people, their allergies are literally a matter of life and death.
On the positive side, that’s 2 million people out there who are looking for safe, allergy-friendly places for eating out – and some of those will be your customers.
We need to reframe how we view food allergies and customer queries about them.
Many of the bigger restaurant and pub chains are improving the way they serve customers with food allergies. Carluccio's and Zizzi have online menus where customers can filter out foods by their allergy, which helps them make an informed choice about what they might eat.
Now, of course, smaller businesses may not have the financial resources to introduce things like interactive online menus, but there are things that all businesses – regardless of size – can do to be more confident about allergens and serving customers with food allergies.
The only way to be fully confident in accommodating customers with food allergies is to take control. Empower your staff and your business by having bullet-proof training, procedures and processes in place.
Here are our 4 Steps to Food Allergen Confidence in Your Business:
Staff training about allergens, your systems and how to deal with customers’ allergen enquiries. There are lots of free or inexpensive off-the-shelf training resources about food allergens that you can use as a starting point, then add specifics about how food allergies are handled in your business.
Detailed knowledge of the products and ingredients in both your kitchen AND your dishes. This includes products you order in ready-made like dressings and sauces, and things that you make from scratch on the premises. You’ll also need to ensure that you minimise the risk of cross-contamination.
Up to date allergen information available to both staff and customers. It’s good to have one person ultimately responsible for maintaining and communicating allergen information and updates. While all kitchen and serving staff need to be kept informed, having one key point of contact reduces the risk of misinformation.
Reliable and easy-to-use systems for labelling PPDS food and/or adding allergen information to menus.
When you know that your business and your staff are empowered to handle food allergies safely and effectively, you won’t have to dread allergy enquiries or worry that unnecessary mistakes will be made.
You don’t have to do all this alone. At Allergen Checker, we’re passionate about helping businesses be more confident about food allergies and serving customers with food allergies.
We can help make sure that your business is compliant with labelling regulations and that your customers can make safe and informed choices about what they eat when they dine with you.
We've got a package to suit any need, with food allergen labelling compliance available for less than £1 per day! We even offer free trials so you can try out our system.
So get in touch and let us help you get prepared for Natasha’s Law – and beyond.