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Getting Through the Food Allergy Challenge

by Willie Biggart

Do you know your crustacean from your mollusc?

Although this sounds like something Jeremy Paxman would bark out at nervous contestants on 'University Challenge', the distinction between these food groups is something large and small caterers need to be aware of since the introduction of the Food Allergen Law at the end of 2014, which made it a requirement for food outlets to provide allergy information on food sold unpackaged. Crustacean and mollusc are just two categories of allergen in the top 14 most common food sources to cause an allergic reaction to a sufferer. While most of us will know of intolerances to gluten and dairy, other foods, which can cause dangerous allergic reactions, include celery, mustard and lupin.

Of course as you probably knew, crustaceans are generally sea animals that have several pairs of legs and a body made up of sections that are covered in a hard outer shell while molluscs are invertebrate animals, many of which also have a shell. However if you are not sure which category a cuttlefish or soft shell crab fits in, help is available from online catering management software programs, such as that delivered by Spoonfed.

Caterers who decide to move to ordering online through software supplied by Spoonfed can seamlessly transfer important allergen information down the food chain which will give allergy sufferers more confidence to eat food provided by corporate caterers to offices, and that can only be good for business.

Further good news comes through the availability of this software which can eliminate mistakes by creating clear communication links between suppliers and restaurants, kitchens and front-of-house staff. That these errors are eliminated is crucial, a new survey of people with allergies in the UK found that one-in four has suffered an allergic reaction after eating out at a restaurant with a further 20 per cent having to visit hospital to treat the reaction.

Reassuringly for the UK's two million citizens who have a food allergy is that eight out of ten of them who responded to the survey found that the food industry is making concerted efforts to make the eating out experience for them more satisfying. This ranged from menus, which clearly marked out meals that contained ingredients which could cause an allergic reaction, to waiting staff more willing to check out what a dish contained with the kitchen staff.

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