Your Guide to the Common Food Allergens
Food allergies are pretty common these days. It seems that for whatever reason, there’s stuff that people just can’t eat without feeling sick, being ill, or having a severe allergic reaction. For a restaurant, this is a whole minefield of issues that you’ve got to navigate. You could take our food allergy and intolerance training.
Most people are allergic to something. It is quite common these days to have an allergy to often very usual food. However, understanding food allergens is important. You need to know the facts surrounding different types of food allergies.
Like most education and knowledge, this is not mandatory. This is something you’d have to seek out and learn for yourself, which understandably can be quite challenging for people. So what we thought we would do is take a look at some of the different things that you should think about when evaluating the importance of food allergen knowledge.
You Need to Protect People From Food Allergens
First and foremost, you need to protect people from risk of being at home. Problem with food allergies is that they can be fatal. People can go into shock, stop breathing, have an allergic reaction that requires medical intervention, and generally it means food allergies are to be avoided wherever possible.
So you need the knowledge to protect people when you are preparing food for them. This is especially important in large restaurants, and places where a lot of food is going to be served all at once. It’s not easy, but you have to try and make sure that you are keeping people safe.
Preventing cross contamination is an important part of being safe in the kitchen. Normally, cross contamination refers to introducing unsafe elements to a different part of the cooking process, so for example using the same knife that you’ve prepared raw meat with to then go and prepare vegetables. In this case however, we are looking at it in a more broad sense.
If you use one cooking tool to prepare a certain food, and then you use it to prepare another phone, unless you are properly cleaning it in between, you run the risk of exposing people to cross contamination. They come into contact with things they might be allergic to, and this is not what you want. One of the first steps is to understand the chopping board colour coding.
Improving Your Craft Improve Your Knowledge About Allergens
Trying to constantly improve your skill set is always a good idea. Learning about food allergens is a way to do that. When you cook with more care and consideration, you start to become a much more reliable person in the kitchen, and you operate with an increased level of efficiency. This helps to put you on demand, and may see you rise to a higher position, so it is always a recommended course of action to train yourself on food allergens.
Common Food Allergies
Knowing what the common food allergens is pretty important, and there’s 14 of them to keep track of. By law, you’re required to make sure that you account for them, so let’s take a look at what they are.
The first allergy which is pretty common is a milk allergy. This is all to do with something known as lactose intolerance. Basically, this is all to do with the sugar in cow’s milk, and it means that the body usually can’t process dairy in the right way. The results of consuming dairy whilst being lactose intolerant can be bad, so label food items carefully.
Eggs are a common allergy, and they form the basis of a lot of meals. Further complicating the issue is the fact that when it comes to eggs, you find that food allergies can come from a lot of different places, making them very hard to predict.
Fish allergies are very common, and they are often made even more complicated by the fact that any type of fish can be one that somebody is allergic to. If there are fish ingredients inside at meal, you should specify this.
Having an allergy to shellfish is quite common, and it encompasses any of the crustacean type foods that people eat. You need to make sure that you stipulate exactly what is in any meal that contains shellfish because otherwise, someone might accidentally ingest something they are allergic to.
Tree Nut Allergy
There are a lot of situations where somebody could be allergic to tree nuts. Walnuts, Armands, and pistachios include some of the different types of tree nuts that people can be allergic to. If you’re going to serve foods with this type of nut, you should specify in advance.
A peanut allergy is fairly common and one which you should be wary of. This means that your best bet is going to be to avoid using peanut dust or peanut flavourings in food as a seasoning. Make sure to specify in menus.
When people think about having a wheat allergy, they tend to think it’s basically celiacs disease. However, that is not the case. A wheat allergy is an entirely separate issue and one which needs to be addressed promptly to see success. It’s important to specify when something contains wheat because it is so common.
A soy allergy can be a very challenging thing to work around. Soybeans and tofu are both common alternatives for meat products, but they can also contain an allergy-inducing substance. It is up to you to make sure that you explicitly state that this is the case, to make sure that you avoid any issues when it comes to food allergies like these.
What Other Food Allergies Exist?
Of course, these are not the only food allergies that exist in the world. There are others. It’s important to know the other types of food allergies do exist, because you have to be prepared to combat them.
Celery, lupin, mollusc, mustard, sesame seed and sulphur dioxide are all allergens that you need to watch out for. These types of allergens can quickly play havoc with your overall experiences as an eatery, so you need to plan for them.
How to Protect Customers From Allergens
Keeping your customers and staff members safe from allergens is important in a lot of ways. You need to make sure that you focus on following these core tips to get everything working in the right way.
- Label everything. Your best bet to keep people safe is to state what allergens are present, and in what types of foods. If there’s a chance that there is an allergen, you need to make sure that you announce it. This is the best way to protect your customers.
- Avoid cross-contamination. Even trace amounts of a substance can trigger an allergic reaction. While it is true that your staff should already be trained in this, you need to make sure that you work extra hard to prevent cross-contamination. It’ll make such a difference in the long run.
- Practice good hygiene. Naturally, good levels of hygiene are a must for any type of situation. Make sure that you practice things like proper labelling, wiping down surfaces and being clean. Issues with allergens and unknowingly contaminating foods tend to crop up when you don’t practice good hygiene levels. You just have to remember to be safe and methodical, otherwise you won’t get it done properly.
Final Thoughts On Food Allergies
When it comes to how you do things like managing allergens, it’s important to be on the ball about it. You can’t expect to have a massive deviation from the norm because there will be industry standards in place to protect people.
You will have to make sure that you abide by these conventions if you’re going to get the most from what you’re doing. There are numerous ways that you can find the best possible means of protecting your customers. Ultimately, it boils down to the right training to make sure that the staff are ready to handle any issues which might occur.
As food allergens can be potentially deadly, they are vital to steer clear of. Being quick to mark things as potentially containing a product is critical for people staying safe. Ultimately, you have a responsibility to make sure that everyone remains in good health, and you do this by making sure that you are being considerate and sensible whenever you design a new menu item or take the time to experiment with different options for how you present allergen and ingredient information. Remember to follow all the rules and guidelines for success.
Further Reading On Food Allergies
Natasha’s Law and what does it mean
Understanding The EU Allergens Law