I have been reading a lot of articles and blogs about the great responsibility that a restaurant assumes when serving a diner with special dietary needs.  I remember a time a when it was quite rare to encounter someone with a food allergy, especially a life threatening one; nowadays we serve tons of people with specific food intolerances and sensitivities, or just intense preferences.  It’s kind of a lot for the restaurant/hospitality industry to handle; not all servers and line cooks have a vast knowledge of what foods contain gluten, or what a food allergy even is. 

 

A lot of the frustration from the food industry comes from the vast quantity of diners who claim to be “allergic” to this or that, which seems to be much more than the 6% of the population who actually are.  Here are some of the specific problems that diners may cite when placing a special order, and what these terms actually mean:

 

Food Allergies – A food allergy is a chemical response to a food on the body that generates an anaphylactic response.  These reactions can be quite severe and can be life threatening if not treated immediately. 

 

Food Intolerances – The most common food intolerance these days is to lactose, a sugar found in dairy products.  When someone is intolerant to a food, that food will not digest properly in their system and will flush through the body too quickly without being broken down, causing extreme discomfort and usually diarrhea.  Celiac Disease is very similar to an intolerance, and has a similar reaction when those affected consume gluten (a protein found in wheat, rye, oats, and barley).  Unlike lactose intolerance, the food does not simply pass through the system undigested, it actually damages the digestive tract which can lead to other food not being digested and absorbed properly. 

 

Food Sensitivities – People with food sensitivities can generally consume small amounts of the food that “bugs” them.  The reactions to sensitivities can range from illness similar to an intolerance to a general “icky” feeling.  Common reactions include swelling of the hands and feet, nausea, and fatigue. 

 

Of course your diners probably won’t go into deep detail about which issue they will have with the food in question, but it may help to know what some of the outcomes may be.  Some restaurants have chosen not to take on the liability, for these special needs diners because the risks are so high, but no one likes turning away business.  It doesn't look like the discussion about allergens will be going away any time soon, so it might be helpful to train your staff on the differences between these terms, so they can better help diners and protect the restaurant operator.

 

How does your operation handle special dietary needs? 

Views: 56

Tags: allergens, allergies, contamination, cross, diners, food, handling, nutrition, procedures, requests, More…special

Comment

You need to be a member of FohBoh to add comments!

Join FohBoh


Non-Operator
Comment by Betsy Craig on October 5, 2011 at 4:10pm
Can I just say that on-line training with Kitchens with Confidence is a great solution to this for restaurants?  Classes launch 11/1/11 nationally.

Advertisments

 

DEPARTMENTS

Social Wine Club for Craft Wineries

Smartbrief

Restaurants may feel the pinch of pricier coffee later this year

Prices for arabica coffee futures hit a 26-month high amid a drought in Brazil, which produces a third of the world's coffee  -More

McDonald's rules out all-day breakfast in push to simplify

McDonald's breakfast menu accounts for 25% of the chain's U.S.  -More

Easy ways to use 5 uncommon spring greens

As light, crisp greens arrive at farmers markets and grocery stores, chefs are finding creative ways to add them to spring me -More

JOBS & CAREERS

Posting a job or finding a job starts here at FohBoh. Call us about special $25 posting packages to syndicate across all major jobs boards.

National News

National Restaurant Association Offers Training DVDs on Harassment Prevention, Social Media Use, and Customer Service

The National Restaurant Association has released three new DVDs that offer best practices in dealing with harassment and discrimination, customer service training, and the first of its kind video guide on the use of social media.

Yum! Brands Reports First-Quarter EPS Growth of 24% Excluding Special Items

China Division System Sales Increased 17% with Operating Profit Growth of 80%; Yum! Reaffirms Full-Year Guidance of at Lea

Souplantation & Sweet Tomatoes Certified As Nation's Largest 'Green' Restaurant Chain

National Group Salutes Country's Only Large Restaurant Group to be 'Certified Green Restaurants®'

National Restaurant Association and EatStreet Release Online Ordering Guide

The National Restaurant Association and EatStreet have released a free educational guide focusing on online ordering and emerging restaurant technology trends.

Boyd's Coffee Launches Single-Cup Coffees For Retail And Foodservice

The coffees come in a variety of roast levels and include organic and Rainforest Alliance Certified™ options: French No. 6®, Red Wagon® Organic Coffee, Good Morning™, Hi-Rev® (delivers more caffeine), and Lost Lake™ Decaf Organic Coffee.

CROWD FUNDING

If you are looking for capital to start or grow your restaurant, create the next 501c3, develop and launch the next app for the restaurant industry,or want to help your peers in some meaningful way, we want to know about it.

TED TALKS VIDEO

TED: Hamish Jolly: A shark-deterrent wetsuit (and it's not what you think) - Hamish Jolly (2013)

Hamish Jolly, an ocean swimmer in Australia, wanted a wetsuit that would deter a curious shark from mistaking him for a potential source of nourishment. (Which, statistically, is rare, but certainly a fate worth avoiding.) Working with a team of scientists, he and his friends came up with a fresh approach — not a shark cage, not a suit of chain-mail, but a sleek suit that taps our growing understanding of shark vision.

TED: Michel Laberge: How synchronized hammer strikes could generate nuclear fusion - Michel Laberge (2014)

Our energy future depends on nuclear fusion, says Michel Laberge. The plasma physicist runs a small company with a big idea for a new type of nuclear reactor that could produce clean, cheap energy. His secret recipe? High speeds, scorching temperatures and crushing pressure. In this hopeful talk, he explains how nuclear fusion might be just around the corner.

TED: Sarah Lewis: Embrace the near win - Sarah Lewis (2014)

At her first museum job, art historian Sarah Lewis noticed something important about an artist she was studying: Not every artwork was a total masterpiece. She asks us to consider the role of the almost-failure, the near win, in our own lives. In our pursuit of success and mastery, is it actually our near wins that push us forward?

TED: Matthew Carter: My life in typefaces - Matthew Carter (2014)

Pick up a book, magazine or screen, and more than likely you'll come across some typography designed by Matthew Carter. In this charming talk, the man behind typefaces such as Verdana, Georgia and Bell Centennial (designed just for phone books -- remember them?), takes us on a spin through a career focused on the very last pixel of each letter of a font.

© 2014   Created by FohBoh.

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service