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Food Allergens and Your Food Business

18 April 2019

Food Allergens When Eating out

Eating out is now a large part of life that many of us enjoy to do. Alot of people eat out every day for example:

  • School/College lunches or Dinners
  • Business lunches
  • Birthday/Anniversary celebrations
  • Weekend treats
  • Snacks and quick bites
  • Travel – airport, planes, train/bus station etc..

From this sample list of occasions why people eat out, there needs to be a variety of food outlets to accommodate this. There are many kinds of food outlets from five star restaurants to hot dog stands and everything in between including sandwich bars, work canteens, fast food restaurants, functional catering, market stalls, supermarket deli counters, catering in institutions like hospitals and catering by childminders and child care organisations.

Allergies on the rise in Ireland

Hypersensitivity to food is on the rise. It’s now estimated that approximately 5pc of Irish children and 3pc of adults suffer from a food allergy. Twenty years ago, just 1pc of the population was affected. The level of severe reactions, requiring a trip to A&E, has also escalated.

“Rates of anaphylaxis attendance to hospital have also gone up – they have trebled in the last 20 years,” reveals Professor Jonathan Hourihane, professor of paediatrics in UCC and principal investigator in the UCC’s Infant Research Centre. “Death due to food allergy hasn’t increased, because it’s always rare, but food allergies are definitely more common these days.”


Cater to a variety of needs

People have a variety of food preferences and tastes that many of these outlets cater too. However you will miss out on a wide selection of people and sales if you don’t cater to people with food allergens.

As business we know that is costs less to keep a customer than it is to acquire a new one. If people come to your food business with family or friends they will have no reason to come back if you don’t cater to their needs.


How to cater for Food Allergens?

How does your restaurant handle food allergens? What can you do for customers with food sensitivities? Are you prepared to deal with different situations?

Know your food allergens

If you run a food business it’s vital to know what ingredients cause these allergic relations. We have written a blog on this, Do you know what “The Big 8” food allergies are? These eight allergens account for about 90% of allergic reactions, however by law in Ireland there are 14 allergens that must be declared, the other 6 allergens are listed in the blog linked above.

Educate yourself and your staff

Educate yourself and your staff about cross contamination. Education is the first tool of defence against preventing accidental contamination. We have many courses that will cover all the essentials and more;

  • Management of Food Allergens –  This is an excellent addition to either Food Safety HACCP Level 1 or 2. This course is designed to introduce participants to understanding  food allergens and management of associated risks.
  • Food Safety HACCP Level 1 – On completion of this food safety training course, participants will be able to understand their requirements under Irish food safety legislation as well as following best work practices.