Food allergen awareness from the kitchen to the dining table
A food allergy is an immune system response, which occurs when the body mistakenly recognises a specific food to be a threat. For some people, exposure to an allergen can trigger an allergic reaction, either immediately or across the course of several hours. If food allergen information is not communicated effectively, consuming food prepared by others can cause anxiety to those of us with food allergies and intolerances.
To ensure the safety of guests, it is vital that venue and event staff are aware of the 14 major food allergens and communicate allergen information clearly from food preparation to service.
Allergen information should be visually accessible to everyone, not only available to those who ask for it. Listing allergens on every menu is the best way to showcase the range of options on offer. For buffet style events, our partners at Eden Caterers offer a selection of gluten free sandwiches, salad boxes to suit a range of allergy requirements, or hot dishes such as a vegan and gluten-free Thai green curry. Contact us to discover our event menus, ranging from conferences to award ceremonies and sit-down private dining, that can be tailored to your requirements.
Surfaces should be cleaned regularly to remove allergen residues that may be lingering from seeds and powders, such as flour and spices. Other methods for preventing cross-contamination include washing hands between dishes and using separate utensils.
Deliveries should be carefully checked and sorted. For venues working with external suppliers, strong communication is vital to ensuring that accurate allergen information is maintained. If a caterer changes their recipe and this affects the allergen status, customers will need to be notified and labelling must be updated immediately.
Venue operators should liaise with clients to ensure all dietary requirements are recorded ahead of an event. In the case of a dinner service, this allows dishes to be selected in advance and table service to run smoothly. Staff need to be informed of dietary requirements on each table and receive regular food safety training to understand how to accommodate the needs of guests with food allergies.
For canapés and buffet style catering, signs enable each guest to identify food that suits their requirements with confidence. Under current laws for non-prepacked food, food businesses must inform customers if a loose item of food contains any of the 14 most common allergens. At 15Hatfields, we clearly signpost allergens in buffet dishes and breakout snacks. Fruit is available to all as a healthy alternative, but we believe everyone should be able to have a treat. Contact us to enquire about delicious snacks and dishes prepared to meet your dietary requirements.
As the official sustainable venue of the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH), 15Hatfields takes food allergen awareness very seriously. All relevant staff at 15Hatfields have completed Level 2 Food Safety in Catering and Level 2 Food Allergen Awareness, which are online courses run by CIEH to assist food businesses in complying with government food safety guidance as this evolves.
If you, or someone you know, has a food allergy, the NHS website provides guidance on the symptoms, treatment and prevention of anaphylaxis. In October 2021, following the death of teenager Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, important changes were introduced into law to ensure that all pre-packed food is labelled with accurate and up-to-date allergen details. In this blog post, Kate Thompson, CIEH Director Wales, provides advice on how food businesses can uphold food safety standards in accordance with Natasha’s Law.