With one in 25 Americans (over 12 million people) having some form of food allergy, it’s become more important than ever for food service and food retail businesses to prevent cross contamination that could cause potentially dangerous allergic reactions for their customers. While more than 160 foods are known to be allergens, only 8 common foods account for 90% of all adverse reactions. These eight allergens include milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, and soybeans. Any contact with a food or ingredient containing the proteins derived from these major food allergens could cause a reaction, so preventing the unintentional transfer of allergens during food prep is imperative.
The most effective way to prevent cross contamination during food preparation is to use separate prep areas and utensils for non-allergen foods; the use of a dedicated allergen-free area and tools will create a “safe space” in which your kitchen team can feel confident that the meals they prepare are safe for all customers to enjoy.
Fortunately, the 2012 NRA Show showcased some of the newest and best innovations for keeping your customers with food allergies confident and safe. The new San Jamar Allergen Saf-T-Zone™ System is a great kit to get your kitchen started on the path to food allergen safety. The kit includes a case containing a 12”x18” cutting board, 10” chef’s knife, 12” stainless steel tongs, high temperature turner, and space for a thermometer. Each utensil is in the Saf-T-Zone purple color to signify that it should be used only for foods that must be protected from contamination. Embossed allergen symbols also offer warnings that remind employees to use each piece once, and then wash.
The safety of your food and your customers is of the utmost importance. Prevent potentially dangerous allergic reactions to the eight most common food allergens by proactively educating your staff and using the best tools to foster awareness in the kitchen.