Delivering a tailored experience for every customers’ needs
In the foodservice industry, thousands of meals are served every day. It’s our responsibility, collectively as foodservice professionals, to provide a safe, clean, healthy, and flavorful experience for our patrons made possible through our staff. One often-overlooked component of that is awareness of food allergies.
There are over 15 million Americans with food allergies. Someone with a food allergy can be at serious risk of a life-threatening reaction if exposed, and protecting him or her is not only good for their well-being, but also good for your business. Taking the time to research and be vigilant in food preparation and staff training can deliver great customer service and instill confidence in your guests that you are an expert who cares about their needs.
Awareness of food allergies is an expectation if you own or operate a restaurant. Educating and preparing staff, however, can create an experience that exceeds patrons’ expectations.
Education begins by understanding types of food allergies. The following eight food allergies make up 90% of all food allergic reactions:
- Tree Nuts
Understanding at minimum these eight, along with the ingredients of menu items, will better prepare all staff to be aware of and attentive to the needs of guests. Be sure to double-check the ingredient listing on the labels of all food you source in your restaurant.
Allergies extend beyond ingredients. Staff should be prepared to engage in dialogue with customers (or other team members) about ingredients and allergies. Consider instituting, as part of the wait-staff introductions, a proactive statement about food allergies or a question asking guests to share if they have any food allergies ahead of time. Reactively, have an action plan in place in the event a guest does have an allergic reaction.
Finally, it’s also important to stay informed. There are a variety of information sources including Food Allergy Research & Education, which offers a newsletter and blog with the latest food allergy topics and information.