Creating a safe and inclusive dining experience is a top priority for restaurants, especially in an era when food allergies are so prevalent. Cross-contact occurs when a food comes in contact with another food containing an allergen. This can happen when the two foods touch or even when a non-allergen food comes into contact with a surface containing an allergen. Cross-contact of allergens poses a significant risk to customers with sensitivities, and restaurants must implement strict measures to ensure the safety of their patrons. In this blog post, we’ll explore practical strategies and guidelines that restaurants can adopt to prevent allergen cross-contact in their establishments.
The first step in avoiding cross-contact is understanding the allergens that need to be avoided. Conduct thorough training sessions, such as ServSafe Allergens training, to educate kitchen and serving staff about common allergens, the risks of cross-contact, and the importance of following established protocols. The nine most common allergens include tree nuts, peanuts, milk, eggs, wheat, soy, fish, sesame, and shellfish. Familiarize yourself with the ingredients in your kitchen and their potential allergenic properties. Check labels to confirm there are no allergens present.
Designate specific areas in the kitchen for preparing allergen-free meals. Make certain that allergens do not touch anything for customers with food allergies. Some establishments even use separate cutting boards, utensils, and cookware for allergen-free dishes to prevent accidental cross-contact. Use separate fryers and frying oil for food that is being served to a customer with a food allergy.
Institute rigorous cleaning protocols to eliminate any traces of allergens. All food prep surfaces, utensils, cookware, and equipment should be washed, rinsed, and sanitized before prepping food. Implement a Master Cleaning Plan to ensure your establishment is safeguarding against cross-contact.
Training doesn’t stop with kitchen staff. Servers should also be educated on which dishes include allergens. Clearly label allergen information on the menu and encourage customers to communicate their allergies with the staff. Providing detailed information upfront empowers customers to make informed choices.
Food safety is our number one priority at TSC Associates LLC. Educate yourself to ensure your staff is properly trained and implementing the appropriate protocols. Do you hold a ServSafe Food Manager Certification? Contact us today to learn how to earn yours!