As an allergy-sufferer, eating out can be a task. By raising allergy awareness, you can help to boost customer experience in your company, and increase profits in the process!
For anyone with a severe allergy or dietary requirement, exploring the possibilities of eating out-and-about can be a minefield. These days, optional dietary requirements, like vegetarianism, veganism, pescetarianism, and flexitarianism, are all viable eating options that most companies cater for.
That said, one pressing issue, which many food and catering companies ignore, is the prevalence of allergies. In the UK alone, 44 percent of adults suffer from one, or more, allergies, and the risk of anaphylaxis occurs in around 1 in 1000 people. This can cause death in many cases, which is why the food industry must take the correct precautions to avoid these rare, but real, instances.
The Leisure F&B Expo is centred around inspiring the food and drink industry with new ways to boost their customer experience. With your FREE tickets to the show, you'll have the chance to discover the companies who can help you to improve your food and drink offerings, so you can boost inclusion. With this week’s theme of inclusion, we’ve put together a list of a few ways in which you can cater for all people, of all dietary requirements, within your business.
Train Your Staff
Allergic reactions can spring up out of nowhere, especially within the food and beverage industry. With this in mind, staff medical training should be imperative, including first aid, and epipen “how-to”s.
It would also be beneficial to provide the suitable equipment to deal with emergency situations. For example, a defibrillator on sight could be the difference between life and death - these measures should not be taken lightly.
Implement Strict Health and Safety Regulations
Recently, it was reported that a young woman received emergency medical care after ascertaining a severe allergic reaction at a TUI hotel. After further investigation, it was revealed that the catering staff at the hotel were cross-contaminating their utensils, serving both chicken and fish using the same equipment as the vegetarian options!
This woman took every precaution to avoid a reaction, only consuming suitable food at the buffet to cater for her fish allergy. However, the hotel breached the trust she had in their catering abilities, and she later became violently ill, and had to receive medical care during her “relaxing” stay.
What’s most shocking about this event, and others like it, is how easily avoidable it truly can be. By ensuring to implement strict regulations throughout any business, which relies heavily on catering to function, it couldn’t be easier to support the severely allergic.
Implement Strict Labelling
Allergic reactions can be fatal, causing the airways to close up, and the body to shut down (read more about this, here). Due to the potential for a severe reaction to occur in almost any culinary environment, it’s so important that strict labelling is carried out to avoid any unnecessary deaths.
This was brought to attention when 15-year-old, Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, died from an allergic reaction from the prevalence of nuts in a Pret a Manger baguette, in 2016. Without the proper warnings on the packaging, her and her father were none-the-wiser, until the anaphylactic shock kicked in.
This doesn’t just go for allergens; listing dietary requirements and ingredients is imperative to ensuring the customers remain informed about what they’re eating. In fact, years later, Pret a Manger was the main culprit in another food scandal, when they failed to label meat as an ingredient in their Christmassy sandwich.
A vegan customer picked it up with the knowledge that it included stuffing, but was not alerted to the inclusion of bacon and turkey in the mix. Outraged, she took to social media, calling for strict labelling to be adhered to.
To avoid any truly avoidable events, like these, companies should ensure that all food items are labelled accordingly. Include allergens, ingredients, and anything else - you can’t go wrong!
A Surprising Discovery
One major way in which you could cater for a more specific allergy, namely those within the celiac community, is partaking in the predicted growth of the organic rice flour market. Without the prevalence of barley, rye, or wheat in rice flour, it’s completely suitable for celiac sufferers.
What’s more, it’s not just those with celiac disease who may benefit. Studies show that, of all the people who swear off gluten, around 20 percent of them don’t even have celiac disease (find these stats here)!
This demonstrates a real opening in the market. By harking on the rice flour market, the food industry could make a breakthrough in helping celiac sufferers, or even just those who swear off gluten, to consume the glutenous delights of bread and pasta, helping to immerse everybody in the delights of refined carbs.
Cater For The Masses With Ultimate Inclusion
These slip-ups in the food and drink industry may be shocking. It’s crazy how big businesses, that you see everyday on your walk to work, could fail in such seemingly basic matters of administration.
That said, these occurrences can be avoided, which is why it’s paramount that everyone within the business gets on board, and does their part. We want customers to trust the businesses that surround them, and this trust can only be gained by full transparency. This way, people with severe allergies won’t have to shy away from eating out in the future.
Do you have an in-depth knowledge on catering for food allergies, or providing food catering services that fit the bill? We’d love to hear from you, so we can see how you can get involved in our Leisure F&B Expo on 6th-7th November 2019, at the NEC Birmingham in the UK. If you think you have what it takes to add value to this evolving industry, please don’t hesitate to contact our Event Director, Oliver Hayes, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call +44 (0)117 929 6087.
If you don’t necessarily wish to exhibit at our Leisure F&B Expo, but want to find out more about what you could bring to the industry, our FREE tickets will provide you with unadulterated access to all related shows. Get in touch, and we’ll see you there!