3 Tips on Allergies - Protecting Your Guests and Restaurant Business

Did you know that up to 32 million Americans are believed to have a food allergy? If you own a restaurant, you can expect about one in ten people who come into your restaurant have some type of food allergy. There is someone with a food allergy sent to the emergency room every three seconds due to a severe reaction. To protect your restaurant guests and your business, you should be aware of food allergies. Here are three tips on how to limit accidental exposure to certain foods for your customers with food allergies.

1. Know the Top Food Allergens

There are an estimated 170 different foods that can cause an allergic reaction. It is impossible for any restaurant to eliminate all possible allergens or list all ingredients on every product. However, it is wise to know the top foods that cause serious reactions. The top eight are: peanuts, tree nuts, milk, eggs, wheat, soy, fish and shellfish. According to the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act  FALCPA), these top eight must be listed on food labels, so it is important to check the labels on products you use in your restaurant.

2. Advise Customers of Which Dishes Contain Nuts

Peanuts and tree nuts are two of the most common causes of accidental food allergy exposure and have a higher risk of anaphylaxis. The danger in restaurants is dishes can have nuts in them that many might not expect. Even using certain peanut oils or other nut oils can cause a severe, deadly reaction. Make sure you check the labels of products you use to know which have nuts or nuts oils within them. Whenever possible, notate on your menu which dishes or desserts contain nut products to prevent accidental exposure.

3. Be Wary of Cross-Contamination

The biggest danger for accidental food allergen exposure is through cross-contact or cross-contamination. Even a tiny amount of seafood or nut residue that accidentally comes in contact with another food source could send someone with food allergens to the hospital. Here are a few ways to avoid cross-contamination in your restaurant:

  •  Use a separate grill or pan for cooking foods for those with allergies to avoid cross-contact
  •  Serve those with food allergies separately – carrying their plate with others can cause contamination if the plates touch
  • Use separate cutting boards and utensils for preparing food for those with food allergens
  • Sanitize tables and all food prep areas between uses

It is crucial for you as a restaurant owner to be aware of food allergies and how to avoid accidentally exposing guests to food that is dangerous to them. It is also important to protect your business in case of a food allergy lawsuit for accidental exposure. Contact our team at The Clausen Agency, Inc., to discuss insurance protection options for your restaurant.