That may not sound like a lot until you consider that 5% of the U.S. population equals more than 16,000,000 people! Then combine that with about half of the population suffering from food intolerance and you get a large portion of your customers with dietary restrictions.
To help guests with allergies and intolerances feel comfortable and safe in your restaurant, you must take measures to eliminate allergen exposure.
Check out these essential tips to prevent cross-contact in your kitchen.
Keep Foods & Utensils Separate
The most common food allergies include:
- Tree nuts
Use color coded utensils that show chefs that they are allergen-free. Do not use a utensil that has been used to prepare foods that contain allergens like wheat or soy for other dishes. This spreads allergens around, and even the smallest trace can cause an allergic reaction in guests.
Similarly, if deep frying foods, keep oils that have fried seafood away from the fryer that cooks French fries.
Get A Reliable POS System
A reliable POS system from DCRS will make it easy to modify orders with allergen information so the kitchen knows to make the correct meal for the correct table.
It will also create a more efficient kitchen, getting orders out quickly and ensuring that you have the supplies you need, when you need them.
Store All Food Correctly
All food should be correctly stored at their safe temperatures with allergens like seafood and nuts stored separately.
Food allergy labeling should always be encouraged so staff know what container contains what potential allergens.
If your restaurant offers delivery, ensure that all orders are packaged correctly and designate a space for all allergy-free orders. Make sure that all orders waiting to be picked up or delivered are kept appropriately heated or cooled accordingly to maintain a safe food temperature.
Thoroughly Wash & Sanitize Work Stations
Before preparing any meal for a guest, but particularly allergy-free dishes, ensure that work stations are thoroughly cleaned and sanitized. That means washing with warm, soapy water, rinsing with clean water, and drying with a fresh cloth.
Always use newly clean utensils and equipment between meal prep and have a separate, allergy-free workspace.
Keeping a clean workspace will also go a long way in helping your restaurant pass health inspections.
Take All Allergy Requests Seriously
When it comes to food allergies, the customer knows best! Always listen to them and prepare their order as requested.
It is dangerous and irresponsible to assume guests who request their meal be gluten- or nut-free are merely on a fad diet or want to ensure that a certain ingredient they don’t like is not in their food.
In addition to keeping guests with allergies safe, preventing cross-contact as well as cross-contamination in your kitchens will promote the safety of all guests.
Educate staff on how to safely handle allergen-free orders and be respectful of guest wishes.