Having a food allergy is one thing, but catering to the allergic is another issue entirely. This point is made very clear when an anaphylactic seizure takes place when dining out.
Here are a few checklists to help prepare you for guests with food allergies, as per Kim Koeller, founder of the Gluten Free Passport and consultant to chefs and food services.
Checklist for management to cater to gluten & allergen free guests
- Do staff know about special diets?
- Are there training program available to improve staff awareness?
- Is there a plan to take into account the need for ongoing training on the process and new allergies that are arising?
- Is there a certification process to advertise to guests?
- Is there an action plan in place to aid customers who have suffered a serious allergic reaction?
- What are other restaurants doing to offer allergy-free meals?
Checklist for kitchens to prepare safe gluten & allergy free meals
- Is food product labeling clear?
- What ingredients on your menu commonly cause allergic reactions?
- Are there dishes that can be easily altered to cater for those with special dietary needs?
- Which products/dishes can’t be altered to suit special dietary requirements?
- Is there a dedicated workspace/set of kitchen equipment used to prevent cross contamination?
- Is there a system in place to clearly separate normal from special dietary orders?
- Have special dietary dishes been confirmed, once made to wait staff?
From the kitchen side, Koeller’s advice includes having a dedicated or separate work area, fryer and utensils to prevent cross contamination, prepping with flour that has no allergen ingredients in it, serving up food on different shaped or styled plates and using different colored order dockets. Then there’s the need for effective communication between front of house and kitchen.
Checklist for front of house to communicate with guests & the kitchen
- Are special dietary requirements of a guest made clear?
- Have these been effectively explained to the kitchen?
- Does anything need to be explained to the guest following feedback from the kitchen?
- Upon service, can the kitchen confirm that any special requirements have been made?
- Has the guest’s experience confirmed that everything has been made right – on presentation and after their meal?
- Are there any interactions observed by the experience that can be advised to management to better improve the communication process?