Training your staff about food allergies and the implications that the new law can have on your business must be a priority. Indeed, where anyone in your establishment has contact with foods and beverages an amount of training will be essential.
Food allergens require careful management as do all perishable consumables in a food (and drink) business outlet.
FBO’s (Food Business Operators) need to identify what level of allergen training is needed for each member of staff, dependent on their handling duties.
All staff that work in and around consumables should have a basic induction and overview of allergens.
Then, dependent on their actual job descriptions they will need to be put through a structured training delivery to ensure they fully understand:
- The 14 top allergens and where they occur in the business.
- The Law.
- Handling procedures, PPE and cross contamination.
- Kitchen systems including HACCP and monitoring procedures.
- The affects on people with allergies.
- What is anaphylaxis, an auto adrenalin injector, coeliac disease etc
- Medical emergency and how to deal with it.
- Communication methods with customers.
If staff on a temporary basis are employed, the FBO may decide to limit their exposure to allergy food groups and stipulate activities that will not compromise the allergy handling procedures at the venue.
Temp staff that will be handling food allergens will need to be properly inducted and advised of their obligations and may require supervision.
General kitchen staff, who will invariably come into contact with food allergens, will need to be sufficiently trained and supervised in their activities.
The management of food allergens should be as important as an FBO’s food safety training programme.
On this basis all food related staff should hold an equivalent of level 2 allergen awareness.
Large organisations would require allergen training for other key personnel including: Nutritionists, dieticians, purchasing managers, operations support, menu designers, development chefs and others who set the policy for food management within the organisation.
Front of house staff (Bar person, waiter, food service assistance, teaching assistant, nurse, care worker etc) will also need to be sufficiently trained to ensure avoidance of cross contamination and to effectively communicate with customers.
A key member of staff could be your receptionist or head office staff who receives calls from people with food allergies who are enquiring about the menu you offer. Remember any advice that you provide to people enquiring must be free of charge.
For example: If we treat allergens as we would for raw meat, we ensure that this is kept in a sealed, labelled container. Equipment for raw meat is sanitised before being used for other products - the same goes for allergens. In some cases equipment could well be dedicated to a certain food group as a result of you not being able to confirm 100% that any cross contamination has occurred.
A good example could be a wok that is used for live theatre cooking.
HACCP is an essential framework for allergen management. If food allergens are added in to each HACCP process staff undertaking tasks will be made aware of these additional hazards and critical control requirements.
An outlet that has exemplary food hygiene standards will in essence be well prepared for allergy management. These are outlets with all staff trained to level 2 food safety with chefs and managers trained to level 3. Senior support staff who audit and assist these organisations will hold level 4 food safety.
But is this enough? Hand washing between high risk food and low risk is a standard procedure. But what about an innocent handling of peanuts then onto a fish salad? It is these areas where staff will need induction and constant reminding. It is one thing to cause an upset tummy but quite another to invoke an anaphylactic shock!
Probably one of the most frightening examples within the pub trade is a member of staff scooping out some delicious nuts then handing over a pint glass with peanut deposits on the glass.
Therefore we need to be exceptionally vigilant with food allergens.
FBO’s that simply claim: “It may contain...” for everything will eventually lose the vote for people with allergies, their guardians and friends. And this will tell all their customers eventually that their overall food safety policy is questionable.
BUT - as a Food Business Operator, if you are in any doubt about a drink or food product you are serving or selling you must inform the customer honestly and concisely.
It is not just about allergy avoidance, but heightened safe food and drink management. FBO’s will consider selling gluten free or general free from foods. So long as you have verified the source or cooking method and are fully satisfied with its authenticity then sell it, but sell it safely.
The EU FIC may well be seen as an added tier of red tape and control measures from Brussels.
However; when you and your staff undertake training you will learn some interesting facts about foods and what is actually contained in them. Likewise for drinks there is a whole raft of added allergens in the manufacturing and preservation process.
E numbers can also contain allergenic foods - this in itself creates a heightened awareness of what you buy day to day.
You will also intensify your food safety procedures as a result of allergy awareness.
Ultimately you will win over some 2% of the UK population who are registered as people with allergies as well as countless other consumers who generally stay away from public catering owing to their intolerance's.
So all in all, this red tape needs to be embraced. It is long overdue and remember - it is only following the packaged goods industry who have had to label allergens for some time.
As part of the Allergen Accreditation framework you must detail that you have sufficiently trained personnel as well as adopted strict control measures. The framework goes beyond this and includes other key areas including the introduction of allergy advisors.
These are key personnel who can deal with customer queries and keep abreast of the communications between the supplier, the kitchen and the service point.
Operators will have varying levels of advice and training needs to assist them in becoming accredited and compliant with the law.
All operators are strongly advised to review the law and its implications in the food service industry by visiting the:
Food Standards Agency Click Here
If your company provides training to food service operators Allergen Accreditation can provide you with our framework for operators to become accredited. This can then be used as part of your training delivery.
You may also wish for your training to be Allergen Accredited and carry the approved logo.
Please contact us on: firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss further.
Details on training and advisory bodies follow below.
Upskill People’s online learning for retail and hospitality gives you effective staff, informed managers and delighted customers.
Your people make the difference in your business, and nowhere is this more important than in keeping customers safe with our Allergen training, rated top-notch by Allergen Accreditation.
With a course catalogue of over 120+ ready to go courses that can be tailored to individual organisations, Upskill People’s learning can be completed on almost any internet connected device so your people can learn when it’s convenient for them and managers can access real time reporting when they’re out and about.
Allergen Accreditation is administered by Food Service Allergen Management Limited which is dedicated to the highest standards in food allergen management in all sectors of the food and licensed industry.