Food Allergy Best Practices for Restaurants
Food allergies may not be top-of-mind until you experience an allergic reaction yourself (or see another’s reaction to a food allergy). Many individuals can get by without proper food allergy knowledge, but restaurant employees who handle food don’t fall in this category. They need to have a basic knowledge of food allergies and how they work.
To protect your customers (and adhere to requirements by the Texas Department of State Health Services), any food service employee who handles food must have an accredited food handlers certification course. But that’s not the only rule of thumb to follow.
Here are some food allergy best practices for restaurants.
One of the most common causes for allergen exposure is cross-contamination which can introduce the presence of allergens to dishes and ingredients that wouldn’t normally have them. This is why there are allergen disclosure requirements for food packaging. To avoid cross-contamination at your restaurant, make sure all tools, utensils, surfaces and equipment are thoroughly cleaned after use and that food handlers wash hands and change gloves before working with a product that is associated with a known food allergy.
Ensure Your Staff Is Trained Properly
The restaurant industry is known for its churn, as well as the number of new employees that arrive on a regular basis. Many of these new employees aren’t trained in proper food safety standards, much less food allergy best practices. It’s important to teach your staff how food allergens spread, proper hygiene for preventing allergen exposure and all of the other best practices on this list.
For even more peace of mind (and to meet the Texas Department of State Health Service requirement for food handlers), it’s wise to invest in a food handlers certificate course, where food allergen guidelines and ways to avoid cross-contamination will be discussed.
Eliminate Certain Allergens from Your Menu
Whether you receive consistent complaints about a certain allergy, have trouble limiting food allergen exposure or you simply want to eliminate risk, removing allergens from your menu is worth considering. The biggest food allergens are milk, fish, soybeans, tree nuts, peanuts, eggs, shellfish and wheat, so if there are any appropriate substitutes, explore them.
Label and Store Food Properly
The last best practice we’ll cover deals with labeling and storage. Food allergen contamination can happen when an employee confuses ingredients due to a lack of a label, or when containers don’t display any allergens they contain. Use big, clear symbols and letters when labeling your food storage and don’t store products that can cross-contaminate.
Whether you need a food handler’s card for your job or simply want to increase your food allergy and food safety knowledge, consider enrolling in a food handler course from American Course Academy today.