When it comes to keeping customers safe from dangerous allergic reactions, your staff is on the frontlines. But to set your team up for success, you need to arm them with the right tools and training. In doing so, you can keep your guests out of harm’s way and avoid jeopardizing your restaurant’s pristine reputation. Let’s have a look at three effective ways to achieve allergy safety in your operations.
1. Focus on the biggies.
First things first, make sure your staff is familiar with the eight major food allergens, also known as the “Big 8,” and the risks associated with them. This includes milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts (e.g., almonds), peanuts, wheat and soybeans. While there are over 160 foods that can cause allergic reactions in people, these eight are especially important to prioritize because they account for 90% of food allergic reactions. Also, some of these ingredients, such as eggs and milk, can be “hidden” in menu items, so make sure your employees know where they’re used so they can steer guests clear of them.
2. Have a protocol in place.
In the event you have guests with food allergies, have a protocol in place for handling those orders. For starters, servers should have a way to highlight allergies within the ticketing system. This will send an alert to the kitchen that special precautions are in order. Servers should also elevate food allergies to a point person, such as a manager, so they can keep an eye on those orders. Whatever your protocol is, put it in writing, so it’s clear company-wide.
3. Furnish a “safety first” kitchen.
Once special orders make their way back to the kitchen, set your staff up for success by equipping them with a “safety first” kitchen. Set up a system to avoid cross-contamination, such as color-coding and designating tools that should be used only for certain types of food. While you’re at it, consider investing in safety-first storage equipment, and only store food in designated food storage areas to keep it contaminant-free. Organize your pantry and refrigerator so that different types of food are in separate and sealed storage. This will help to keep cross-contamination at bay.
Put safety — and your customers — first.
By taking these measures, you’re better positioned to keep your customers and restaurant out of harm’s way. But protecting guests from allergic reactions is only one safety-related concern. Foodborne illness is another widespread issue. Luckily, there are steps you can take to safeguard your guests against that, too. Check out our post on why foodborne illness happens and how to prevent it.