From Risk to Re-assurance: 5 Tips For Transforming Your Business’ Allergy Policy

When you work in the hospitality industry, ensuring the safety of every guest is paramount – especially when it comes to accommodating diverse dietary needs and food allergies.

So, how can you strive to deliver a dining experience that caters to every individual who walks through your doors? Discover how you can go one step further than simply managing allergies, by transforming your business’ allergy policy from a simple risk management protocol into a beacon of reassurance.

1. Go beyond “may contain” warnings

Adhering to an allergy matrix doesn’t equate to real inclusivity. While tools such as allergy charts certainly aid in risk assessment, being truly inclusive means going beyond compliance and considering each guest’s specific needs. Moreover, while legally necessary, simply labelling your menu or products with “may contain” warnings can be perceived as a means of protecting your business, rather than a genuine effort to put customers at ease.

While many people assume vegan food is always safe, this can be misleading – in fact, vegan options may still pose allergy risks due to shared preparation surfaces or ingredients. Instead, businesses should focus on proactive measures to minimise cross-contamination, and provide transparent communication regarding potential allergens on their menus.

2. Collaborate from front-of-house to kitchen

Underestimating the severity of allergic reactions can have dire consequences – anaphylaxis, for example, is a life-threatening condition that calls for unwavering vigilance. Complacency simply isn’t an option; nor is it acceptable to assume that the responsibility of monitoring allergens lies solely with kitchen staff.

Much the opposite, effective allergy management is a collaborative effort that involves front-of-house staff, managers, and even suppliers. Everyone has a role to play in maintaining a safe environment.

Before you do anything else, you should always make sure that you’re starting a conversation with your customer. Try asking the following questions…

  • “Do you have any allergies that we need to be aware of?”
  • “Would you like to see an allergen-free menu?”
  • “Do you have an epi-pen/the necessary equipment to deal with an allergic reaction on you today?”

These simple queries not only demonstrate your commitment to their wellbeing, they also serve to mitigate risks while fostering an environment of trust and inclusivity.

3. Ensure an accurate, allergen-free menu

In terms of strategies that you can implement to position yourself as a leader in accommodating customers with allergies, start by considering the menu itself. Around 1 in 50 children and 1 in 200 adults in the UK have a nut allergy. With this in mind, it’s perplexing why many venues continue to feature nuts on their menus. In fact, restaurant owners ought to consider the absence of nuts as a unique selling point as opposed to a limitation.

It’s also highly beneficial for food operators to present their menu online, enabling customers to easily double-check for allergens and dietary restrictions. By providing this information, individuals with allergies can thoroughly review the ingredients and make informed decisions prior to dining out. Additionally, online menus can streamline the ordering process and improve efficiency for both customers and staff.

4. Equip your staff with life-saving training

It’s equally important, however, to prioritise comprehensive staff training. It’s helpful when restaurant staff write down a customer’s allergies and talk to the chef. This lets the kitchen know about any special requirements, allowing them to make sure dishes are prepared safely. At the same time, it’s a thoughtful approach that makes diners feel valued.

By educating your team about the severity of allergies and the importance of meticulous food preparation, you can instil a culture of attentiveness and responsibility.

5. Build customer confidence with Safe to Trade

Undergoing a comprehensive audit led by a seasoned safety auditor that adheres to a holistic food safety standard will provide invaluable insights into your business’ allergy management practices. These assessments highlight areas of strength, as well as opportunities for improvement, steering organisations towards greater inclusivity and safety.

As the certification body for Safe to Trade, Shield Safety conducts audits to the Safe to Trade standard, which ensures hospitality businesses meet the highest food safety and health and safety standards.. Our assistance empowers businesses on their journey to establish safer, more inclusive spaces – with Safe to Trade certification giving your customers the confidence and peace of mind they need to feel protected.

To learn more about how you can enhance your allergy management practices and achieve Safe to Trade certification, reach out to our team today. In the meantime, you can watch our webinar to hear from our Allergen Safety Panel and gain insights into risk assessment, cross-contamination prevention, communication strategies, and more.

Watch our latest webinar on Allergy Awarness Week


Shield Safety Group


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