A key detail in the food industry and where a major issue can cause a business to shut down has to do with allergies. Working in the food industry I understand how serious allergies need to be taken for the customers. If someone is allergic to a certain kind of item on the menu but they wanted to order it, there were a high amount of details needed in order to make the customer get exactly what they wanted for their order! For example, you first need to have a manager see what the customer is allergic to and then make sure that the kitchen follows the procedure in order to make sure everything runs smoothly.
For example, gluten or oil needs to be cooked in a separate pan and have the kitchen make a completely different recipe without touching any other products. There are five important people in charge that make sure all allergic reactions are prevented.
According to The Food Network Anaphylaxis Network, in the entire population, at least 4% or 12 million Americans have allergies and there is no cure.
Certain reactions determine how bad the allergic reaction can get, these symptoms consist of swelling of the tongue, lips and throat, hives, it can be difficult to breathe, abdominal cramps and diarrhea. The worst reaction is anaphylaxis is a severe reaction that is rapid in onset and potentially life-threatening. Symptoms can include all of those previously noted, as well as cardiovascular symptoms such as a drop in blood pressure, loss of consciousness, or even death According to (TFNAN) allergic reactions can cause up to “30,000 emergency room visits a year, and end up in 150-200 deaths per year.
” Some key points to remember is that milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, soy, and wheat account for 90 percent of all food allergy reactions. Seafood allergies affect 6.9 million Americans and peanut and tree nut allergies affect 3.3 million Americans. So cross-contaminating cannot be taken in account at any facility.
The first important key to have is risk management, there are the ones to first take on the allergy and understand it by reducing the liability. Management has to have key ingredients listed on the menu to ensure that customers know what each item consists of. A key factor is having a manager on duty, to answer any questions that a customer might have to change an item. As well as any modifications that a customer might have to fit the needs to change if there are any allergies. Then activating the restaurant emergency plan to ensure that the ingredients needed for change are available or not available. Once the manager takes recognition that the item is changed, they must let the other staff know that the item has been modified and can not be touched so cross-contamination does not occur. Worst-case scenario the customer has an allergic reaction, call 9-1-1 immediately.
The next important factor of the operation is the Manager who runs the facility. Their job is not only to keep a safe, smooth environment for their guests and employees but make sure that each customer wants to come back! From service and great service with the handling of food and hygiene of the restaurant as well. The manager is the only one who can handle the food allergy questions and modifications. The manager should have a clear operating procedure, which entails why answering the customer’s needs you have the key ingredients to make modifications to their preference. This also means having the kitchen manager know how to remake a certain item to satisfy their needs. In each facility, they should instructions to follow if an allergy reaction takes place and a step-by-step process in how to respond. All staff must take an allergy training course before handling any food or start working.
Some items on the menu that may take the kitchen staff a long time to modify are fried foods, desserts, sauces, combined food items, and pastry dishes. When food allergies are taken into account for they must also think of the visual aspect of the dish, and keep in mind the food allergy. Another point of detail that is important is having the server thoroughly describe the item to the customers how the item is cooked and what the item comes with. Leading into our next factor of food allergy; the front of the house is listening carefully to a guest’s needs. A food allergy is not a food preference so the guests need to be listened to very carefully. A guest relies on the front of the house to make sure all the necessary staff knows of the guest’s allergy and to handle with care. This includes who handles the plate and makes sure there is no cross-contamination and that any garnishes are not put onto the new modified plate. If the new plate has one mistake, the kitchen staff has to remake the whole item to avoid any allergy that could take place.
The facility as a team needs to be sure that all guests have a great experience- by a clean environment where they are seated and the kitchen itself. No leftover item is on the table they are sat at, to avoid any allergy from leftover food. All hosts ensure the seating is clean and ready to be served. The bus-boys are cleaning the area thoroughly with disinfectant to ensure no item is left on the table and no germs will contaminate the next guests plate. Going into the next important factor is the back of the house, the guests require them to make sure the ingredients are clearly stated in the menu and give thorough detail to a guest if needed. The back of the house also ensures that the kitchen staff are wearing gloves, hats, and no item is placed by another item to ensure no cross-contamination of any sort. Also having a clean environment, fresh produce, and cleaning and cutting items on the proper equipment. Any dirty dishes are handled with gloves and put by the dishwater immediately with the following of washing hands before touching any food items.
The last important factor of the food allergy network is how the food is prepared, which includes what to do if any mistakes do take place. Having an allergy emergency outline plan to help staff follow a safe procedure in the event that it happens. According to (TFNAN), the following statement must be written “If someone is having an allergic reaction, do not deny it, and do not argue with the customer or defend the restaurant. Take action – call 911 and get medical help immediately!” Have an emergency call list for food allergy by instructions, and make sure to tell the responder what the guest ingested or may have been allergic to.
This way the responders know what to do as soon as they arrive with the correct procedure to help the guest with the reaction. Overall, any facility can not run smoothly without a plan like this without the five important factors listed there would not be proper accountability to ensure the safety of their guests’ needs. Without each factor, there would be multiple facilities shut down, by improper care of handling the item and the improper care taken to their guest. Due to this five-factor step process needed in restaurants, the staff knows how to take care of a high priority plate careful of the guest’s allergy. It is very important to know why you have this process in place and listen carefully to guests’ needs. Food allergies can be scary but knowing how to avoid them with the proper care can bring back happy customers!