Prep for 2018 with an Allergy Policy
Get a head start for the new year by implementing an Allergy Policy
As we enter 2018, a year prepped for clean, fresh food, the food service industry is expected to continue catering to diners with restrictions. Eating out with food allergies is easier than ever before due to continued awareness, but it is only the beginning. With allergy training mandates popping up around the coast and the requests for gluten free menus skyrocketing, it is only a matter of time before all restaurants have to take notice.
The National Restaurant Association’s “2018 Culinary Forecast” is packed with trend predictions leaning towards healthy, fresh, clean food and that demand goes hand in hand with allergen accommodation. Number 3 on the “Top Concept Trends” list is natural ingredients/ clean menus. Instead of just offering fresh food, it’s time for restaurants to also take care of their diners with restrictions.
Taking care of diners with allergies and intolerances is vital. Food allergy reactions result in more than 200,000 emergency room visits a year. Tons of food service facilities are implementing allergy alert policies. One restaurant, Odd Duck, went so far as to print 7 separate menus a day due to a yelp review and family member with allergies related to the head chef. While not all facilities need to go this far, it’s easy to implement a few key components that will make your restaurant/ facility ahead of the game in the food allergy world.
Some components of a successful Allergy Alert Policy are:
Step One: Train All Staff
Training staff can be as simple as in a quick pre-shift meeting and go all the way to a formal training. It’s important to make sure they know at least the basics of food allergies, what the difference between an allergy and an intolerance is, what the symptoms of a reaction can look like and what the big 8 allergens are (http://allertrain.com/food-allergy-basics/).
Step Two: Plan for Diners with an Allergy
Plan a guests visit from phone call to delivering the check. From the moment they call to make a reservation they have contact with a member of your team who can jot down a note about the restriction and alert your staff the moment they walk in the door. From the hostess to the chef, all members of your team should have a role in the plan.
Step Three: Establish Clear Communication
From diner to chef, the allergy should be clearly communicated. Being allergic to peanuts is completely different than being allergic to tree nuts. If it’s communicated wrong there could be a mistake in the process and a reaction in the diner. If your server knows exactly what button to push on the POS to alert the chef properly and uses correct details of the allergy, reactions can be prevented successfully.
Step Four: Pay Attention
Once a diner does their part in informing you of their allergy, it’s important to pay attention to the details. If the table hasn’t been properly cleaned, clean it again. If the table next to the diner allergic to shellfish orders steamed shrimp, walk the long way to serve them. Small details could make a huge difference.
Step Five: Prepare For Results
All guests with allergies will feel confident dining with you and will surely tell their friends. You’ll be left with impressed guests, repeat customers and an awesome referral program.
Odd Duck’s plan is a well oiled machine. Their hosts ask diners if they have allergy restrictions and offer individualised menus based on their findings, their servers ring in the allergy which prints in red ink on the ticket to the kitchen, the expo ensures communication to the line and the food runner delivers the food directly to the guest with the utmost care. Some of their policies are a simple addition while others are a bit more complicated. You don’t have to print multiple menus a day, but you can lay the bricks for a strong allergy policy foundation. Your guests will thank you and your staff will feel empowered and confident!