The hospitality staffing crisis and allergens
Food Allergies are increasing and are rapidly becoming one of the most important food safety risks that food businesses need to manage.
Although there are lots of food that people can be allergic to, in the UK there are 14 allergens that have been identified in legislation including eggs, milk and cereals containing gluten. It is a legal requirement to signpost customers to this allergen information or detail it on labels depending on how the food is served and packed.
Many food businesses that I have inspected recently are still unsure about what they need to do and what information they need to provide. This situation is becoming an increasing worry for food businesses owners with the current staffing crisis in hospitality.
This has resulted in businesses being significantly down on their labour force with more reliance on inexperienced or new staff or coping with a skeleton team. This could result in them being ‘too busy’ to make sure they are giving accurate and up to date information on allergens putting customers with allergies at risk .
Top 5 allergen tips to stop your business ending up in crisis
At this difficult and busy time in the run up to Christmas, it is important to have allergen management procedures in place that everyone in the business follows. Here are my top 5 tips to prevent your business ending up in crisis:
- Use an allergen matrix to record the allergens in the food you serve. Keep to a standard menu using standard recipes. Avoid doing daily specials unless you have a member of staff who can manage this process properly.
- Write down how you prepare food for customers with allergies in your food safety management system. Print these controls out and share and display them in the kitchen.
- Make sure every member of your staff including all back and front of house staff are trained in allergen awareness. Access the FREE Food Standards Agency online allergen training
Communication is key for keeping customers with allergies safe – ask every customer if they have any allergies or intolerances. Start the conversation when they arrive to avoid mistakes happening. And have a pre shift allergen brief for front of house and kitchen staff before EVERY shift.
Only use suppliers who you have confidence in with regards to allergen information and communication
Your staff can be the strongest or weakest link with regards to food allergens. Training your staff and putting robust systems in place will help to keep your customers with allergies safe. Encourage your staff to ASK and never GUESS if they don’t know the answer about allergens or customer allergies. It could literally save someone’s life and your business.
Hit the button below if you need help with managing allergens in your business or want to book on one of my allergen beginner to pro masterclass