Food allergies can be life threatening and are a growing concern in Australia. In fact, Australia has one of the highest allergy prevalence rates in the world. In NSW alone, food allergies occur in approximately 1 in 20 children and 2 in 100 adults.
When consumers disclose their food allergy, the food service industry has a responsibility to help the customer with food menu choices by providing information about food allergens that may be present directly and/or indirectly in food menu items.
A food business must ensure that:
- accurate information is on a label and is given by staff selling unpackaged food made at the premises when a customer asks for it;
- an allergen is not found in a food that was specifically requested not to contain that allergen.
What are the 10 most common allergens?
- peanut, tree nut, egg, cow’s milk (dairy), fish, crustacean (shellfish), sesame, soy, wheat, lupin.
How can a food business manage allergens?
- implement an effective allergen management plan;
- train staff in food allergen risks, management and communication;
- take customer requests about allergens seriously. Listen carefully.
- the law requires you to provide clear and accurate information on the allergen status of your product(s);
- be 100% truthful. Understand the consequences.
- have a specific protocol to follow if a customer says they have a food allergy;
- have a plan in place to manage the unintentional presence of food allergens;
- include a note on all menus asking customers to ALWAYS disclose their food allergy when ordering from the menu.
How do I find out more about food allergens in the food service industry?
Is your food business allergy aware? (125KB)
All About Allergens (959KB)
On page 8 there is an Allergy Aware checklist you can place on your work noticeboard or laminate for your kitchen.
Everyone working in food service - from the manager through to the food preparation and food service staff - needs to be aware of the risks food allergies pose. It’s also important to be clear on how to identify and manage food allergens and how to respond to enquiries from customers with food allergies.
So this first course is designed to assist proprietors and workers in any food business to gain knowledge about food allergens, and to develop best practice procedures for making their food business safe for customers with allergies:
All About Allergens - free online training
For food handlers specifically (from Vic Dept of Health and Human Services):
Food Allergens - free online training