Find Out Why Sodexo™ Trusts AllerTrain™ for Gluten-Free/Allergen Training

Over 5% of the American population now struggles with some sort of food allergy. This means every one of you knows someone afflicted with food allergies. If you are a food-service professional, we can practically guarantee you are in contact with allergic diners every day. It is more important now than ever for you to provide proper training and resources to your team so you can thrive as a business.

We talked with Beth Winthrop, National Wellness Director for Campus Services for Sodexo, about this issue recently. On a weekly basis, Beth educates Sodexo managers across the country to ensure university student diners have healthy eating experiences. Read more below to see why Beth believes having top-notch allergy training will not be a pain, but actually help your business be more successful.

Why is it important for every restaurant to have food-allergy and GF training?

We would never want our managers or front-line staff to hurt anybody or make people nervous thinking we don’t know what we are doing by phrasing things in ways people don’t understand. Having proper training helps us to label our food in ways that are communicating what is in the food and creating a culture where there is no confusion.

Does proper food allergy training bring value to a restaurant or just the customer?

It definitely brings value to the customer, but also to the restaurant. Everybody knows you really need to depend on regulars in the restaurant industry. If you do a good job, you will turn customers with allergies into regulars. The allergy community is a very connected community and if word gets out that you are doing a good job, you will get yourself more customers. The negative side of this is that if you do a poor job handling allergens, people will talk about it and you could lose some valuable regulars.

What are some of the major roadblocks you believe need to be overcome in the nutrition industry?

People don’t know what they don’t know. I have seen people say things like “Oh we will be happy to discuss the amount of gluten tolerance”. You have to be knowledgeable, otherwise you will mis-speak and cause people to assume your establishment is unprofessional and unaware.

There are many people out there who are excessively cautious. They think “If I can’t be 100% sure I will not even try”. We don’t have the option to guess, or not know, what is in our food. People’s lives are on the line and as industry professionals, we have a responsibility to be able to give them 100% accurate information.  We have to take a hard look at our environment and resources and be honest about what we can and cannot promise. People want honesty more than anything. 

How have the increase in food allergies and GF tendencies affected your business?

Most colleges are in a recruiting battle and they are competing for many of the same students. Any edge that will help them win over a qualified student helps significantly.

As industry professionals, we have to think about this population when making purchasing decisions. It can be smart to think about a parent who has a child with food allergies, there is no doubt they will be checking to make sure the campus eating opportunities have allergy-conscious choices.

For many of our locations, this has looked like going above and beyond and changing the names of the recipes so people can see allergens in titles. Little moves like this help students and families feel much more confident and safe with their choice to attend that school.

What value has the AllerTrain™ team brought to the work you are doing?

The concept of AllerTrain is great in terms of dealing with gluten and food sensitivities and allergies. We have had trouble with some places who have just done gluten-free training and not allergen-free. Everything that is gluten-free is not allergen safe. Talking about them all together is extremely important.

We have also loved the freedom to be able to insert Sodexo resources into the program with our managers. AllerTrain is wonderful because it is standardized for everyone to get the right information but there is also the ability to personalize things to meet your organization’s culture and messaging. I really appreciate getting to work with Betsy in making suggestions.

Who are the businesses you believe are handling food allergy and gluten-free training the best?

Sodexo. I know I am biased but I am very proud of my company and how we handle gluten-free and allergy-safe issues in the college environment. Everything we have that prints nutritional also lists allergens which is just not true of the competitors.

Enjoy Life Foods — I have toured their factory and they are very serious about testing everything that comes in. My niece has to worry about food allergies and this is a company I feel comfortable buying.

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Beth has put over one thousand of her managers through AllerTrain™ and worked with college campuses across the US and Canada. It is clear that providing your establishment with proper training brings long-term value to your company. Everybody wants their business to stand out and to have lifelong customers and we are confident that treating food sensitivities, allergies, and gluten/celiac conditions – will give you an advantage.

AllerTrain has helped Duke, Notre Dame, Cornell, and KU with their food allergy training. If you leave us your info below, someone from our team will reach out to you to see if AllerTrain can bring value to your team. If you are a food-industry professional and would like more information on how to get the proper training, contact our team at AllerTrain™ and we will give you everything you need for proper training. 

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