According to Food Allergy Research and Education, an estimated 15 million Americans have food allergies, including one of every 13 children. Food allergen awareness is a safety matter that cannot be ignored by schools and institutions that offer dining facilities.
In fact, colleges and universities may be legally obligated to address food allergens. In 2012, the U.S. Department of Justice said students with celiac disease and other food allergies may have a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act. These students must be able to fully utilize a university meal plan.
Purple Puts Purdue Diners at Ease
Dining out should be enjoyable, but it can be stressful for someone with a food allergy. No one understands that better than Carrie Anderson, dining court supervisor at Purdue University. Anderson’s interest in nutrition was elevated when she learned her son was allergic to milk, egg, wheat and peanuts.
“Parents of children with food allergies, and children themselves, are scared to eat when food is prepared by someone else and that is hard, especially in a college setting where students want to be with their friends,” Anderson said.
She sought a solution to prevent cross-contact with eight of the most common food allergens. As a result, the Hubert Company worked with Anderson’s staff and chefs to supply a full line of purple cooking and baking products.
“Hubert offered a great service by having a passion to find allergen products for Purdue when other people were not offering these,” Anderson said.
Aspects of Food Allergen Awareness
A color-coded system is an important step in preventing cross-contact with food allergens. Here are five action items to provide a great experience for guests with food allergies.
- Create a Plan
What tools and procedures are needed to make your kitchen and dining area compliant?
- Train Your Team
Everyone from the kitchen team to the customer-facing staff needs to be trained on procedures for accommodating guests with food allergies.
- Share Information
A menu of allergen safe foods or noting dishes that contain the eight most common allergens will help communicate with customers.
- Use Color Codes
Separating foods within the kitchen with color-coded products will help eliminate cross-contact.
- Clean and Sanitize Frequently
Allergen Awareness products should be washed and sanitized between each use.
The Food Allergen Awareness Advantage
Restaurants and other eateries can use an Allergen Awareness program to cater to a growing crowd. According to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study, there was a 50 percent increase in children with food allergies from 1997 to 2011. AllergyEats and several media outlets have promoted dining establishments that are allergy-friendly. Providing an allergy-friendly menu and strict procedures is exceptional customer service that can translate to loyalty and endorsements.