7 handy tips to manage allergens

Did you know that approximately 1.5 million people in the UK have a food allergy or intolerance?

Allergies can be life threatening and in some cases life controlling, and the only way to safely manage an allergy is to completely avoid the culprit foods.

IgE Mediated food allergies are most common and symptoms can include tingling of the mouth, skin rash, facial swelling, difficulty swallowing, feeling sick and abdominal pain. Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction which results in medical emergency and can include unconsciousness, rapid heartbeat, increased breathing difficulties and sudden drop in blood pressure.

According to the FSA, around 10 people die from food-induced anaphylaxis every year. Our blog Peanut prosecution highlights the importance of allergen awareness discusses the landmark trial of restauranteur, Mohammed Zaman who pleaded guilty to manslaughter following the death of a customer who had requested a peanut-free meal.

Another devastating story swept the media this week after 15-year old Megan Lee died after suffering a severe allergic reaction after eating a meal from an Indian take away. Two men have been arrested on suspicion of involuntary manslaughter by gross negligence by officers investigating the incident, although the full results of the post mortem are yet to be determined.

So, as a food business, you have a great deal of responsibility to protect your customers, and also your businesses’ reputation. To do this, you must ensure that all of your employees understand allergens; training in the effects of allergens is key.

Shield Safety Group’s Handy Tips:

1. Effective communication
Regularly communicate any changes in the menu to all colleagues –  front of house and back of house – so everyone is aware of any requirements when the order is handed over and food is served.

2. Tell customers about allergens
It’s a legal requirement to provide allergen information. If you’re unsure, NEVER GUESS ingredients and always check – poor advice can cost someone’s life. Why not give the customer an ingredients list so they can make an informed choice themselves?

3. Store allergens separately
Sealed containers or designated allergen areas are really important because allergies can occur through vapours and small traces.

4. Separate work surfaces and designated utensils
Use colour-coded equipment to minimise the risk of cross-contamination. If you’re tight for space, make sure you thoroughly clean and disinfect surfaces between use.

5. Label all foods
From December 2014, all food businesses must provide information on the 14 main allergens in all food they serve and to be stored in one place. Effective methods include bold or underlined text and use of contrasting colours.

6. Signpost allergen information
Use of wall menus, chalkboards or populating your menu with allergen symbols are a great way to clearly emphasise dishes containing allergens.

7. Good hygiene
Small amounts of allergens, particularly nuts can cause severe reactions through poor cleaning, cross-contamination and handwashing, so make sure you’ve got adequate products available.

These simple but vital precautions could be the difference between life or death, what are you waiting for?

If you’re a food operator Shield Safety can help you achieve full workplace Food Safety compliance through our varied service offering. For more information about how we can help keep your business and customers safe, visit our homepage or call us today on 020 3740 3744. 

The information contained in this blog article has been created for marketing purposes and is not official guidance and should not be used as a substitute for official Food Safety, Fire Safety and Health & Safety advice. Shield Safety take no responsibility if the information in the blog article is used to form part of a safety management system or used to form part of any legal or regulatory compliance for your business. For official guidance and to engage with Shield Safety services please do call our team on 020 3740 3744 or email hello@shieldsafety.co.uk.

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