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National Restaurant Association - Cook up the right plan for serving guests with allergies

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Cook up the right plan for serving guests with allergies

Did you know it’s Food Allergy Awareness Week? This is the perfect time to focus on the issue of food allergies and intolerances and how to train staff on accommodating food allergic guests.  According to the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN), about one in 25 Americans report that they suffer from a food allergy.

A food allergy is an immune system response to a food that the body mistakenly believes is harmful. Allergic symptoms can affect the respiratory system, gastrointestinal tract, skin, and/or cardiovascular system. The foods that account for about 90 percent of all allergic reactions include milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts (e.g. almonds, walnuts and pecans), soybeans, wheat, fish, and shellfish, which are commonly referenced as the “big eight”. 

 “Food allergies can be serious and need to be treated differently than dietary preferences and customization requests,” said Joy Dubost, Ph.D. , R.D., Director of Nutrition for the National Restaurant Association. “When serving a food allergic guest, dining room staff and kitchen staff must work together to make sure that dishes are prepared and served separately to avoid cross-contamination.”

The National Restaurant Association worked with FAAN to develop a training guide to help educate restaurant staff on welcoming guests with food allergies. This free training tool is available on the Association’s website.

“Restaurants are working to properly train and educate their staff, to ensure that guests have a safe and enjoyable experience when dining out. We make our training guide available for free, and include information on food allergens in our ServSafe Food Safety training program,” Dubost said.

Find more food allergy information and resources in our Food & Healthy Living section.

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