Do you know how to serve a customer who has a food allergy? It is important to be exceptionally mindful in ensuring that the food you are preparing for that person is free of any allergens, as a reaction can be life-threatening.
If a customer asks you whether a dish contains a certain ingredient, check all the details of the dish. If you don’t know, never guess. Always check with the chef or the person responsible for preparing the food. A customer may also give you a ‘chef card’ that lists the foods they are sensitive. Make sure you keep a copy of ingredient information on any ready-made food you use. It is also wise to list ingredients for each dish on your menu, to help customers determine what is safe for them to consume.
Which ingredients can cause a problem?
These are some of the foods people may be allergic to:
Nuts in sauces, desserts, crackers, bread, ice cream, marzipan, ground almonds, nut oils.
Peanuts in sauces, cakes, desserts. Don’t forget groundnut oil and peanut flour.
Eggs in cakes, mousses, sauces, pasta, quiche, some meat products. Don’t forget foods containing mayonnaise or brushed with egg.
Milk in yoghurt, cream, cheese, butter, milk powders. Also check for foods glazed with milk.
Fish in some salad dressings, pizzas, relishes, fish sauce. You might also find fish in some soy and Worcestershire sauces.
Crustaceans, such as prawns, lobster, scampi, crab, shrimp paste.
Molluscs – these include mussels, whelks, squid, land snails, oyster sauce.
Gluten, such as wheat, rye and barley. Also check foods containing flour, such as bread, pasta, cakes, pastry, meat products, sauces, soups, batter, stock cubes, breadcrumbs, foods dusted with flour.
Celery – this includes celery stalks, leaves and seeds and celeriac. Also look out for celery in salads, soups, celery salt, some meat products.
Lupin – Lupin seeds and flour in some types of bread and pastries.
Mustard, including liquid mustard, mustard powder and mustard seeds; in salad dressings, marinades, soups, sauces, curries, meat products.
Sesame seeds in bread, breadsticks, tahini, houmous, and sesame oil.
Soya as tofu or beancurd, soya flour and textured soya protein; in some ice cream, sauces, desserts, meat products, vegetarian products.
Sulphur dioxide in meat products, fruit juice drinks, dried fruit and vegetables, wine, beer.
Ensure that your kitchens are organised to avoid cross contamination of food, as even the smallest trace of these potential allergens can cause a reaction. To find out more about responsible food service, check out Food Safety Supervisor page.