The background behind the campaign was that Senior Allergen Advisor and Business Owner of JACS had previously led her team to remove one of the key 14 allergens from their diet in order to “Step in My Shoes” What is it really like to live day to day with any type of allergy? How difficult is it to eat out, shops, cook? The Free From community supported our campaign and took to Twitter and Instagram to share our campaign.
Recent incidents in the press have highlighted the difficulties of eating out with a severe food allergy. Participants of our campaign reported a lack of understanding within the industry. Many customers who plan to eat out in a restaurant will ring in advance quizzing the person who answers to phone. The response to these questions asked will affect whether the customer will book a table in that establishment or not.
Customer “I am ringing to find out if you can cater for my allergies”
Restaurant “Oh yes, of course, we do all the allergies ???!!”
Customer “Thanks I’ll leave it this time”
There must be a quicker more reliable way to check whether restaurants are on the ball when dealing with their Allergy customers … well of course there is Allergen Accreditation.
This robust audit scheme will ensure that the food business has willingly undertaken an in-depth audit of their business from the suppliers at the back door through to the food served on the plate.
The framework provides the caterer with the opportunity to work through the audit scheme and question their own suppliers, recipes, training and communication process. This will highlight any areas that need improving and once accredited the business can celebrate in the knowledge the customers with food allergies will be treated properly and the food will be safe to eat.
The scheme needs to be publicised widely in order that the customers who would benefit, start to demand that food businesses can provide proof of their ability to cater for them. The Free From customer will feel safe and the restaurant will benefit from repeat business.
The auditors who carry out the process are Senior Allergen Advisors and are very knowledgeable and skilled in this area. They will scrutinise the standardised recipes and ask the teams questions to check their understanding of the process. Suppliers need to provide full disclosure of all allergens and we recommend breaking down the gluten into each specific identity eg rye, wheat, barley need to be identified individually. The methods of communication are also highlighted and the team recommend pre-service briefs from the chef direct to front of house staff.
Once accredited the Senior Allergen Advisor will present the certificate to the team. This is valid for 3 years and should be proudly displayed to provide confidence to your customers that dietary requirements will be catered for.
See also: Allergen Services