Allergy Aware Training

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I was lucky to bag a place at Allergy Aware Kitchen training day yesterday which was held at Nibsy's, Reading's first all gluten free cafe.  

Liz Allan took the class through all the necessary information regarding how to make your eating establishment fully compliant with the new EU Food Allergen Regulations which came into effect on 13 December 2014. 

With an emphasis on safety and communication, Liz did a great job of hammering home how important it is to make sure staff know the difference between allergies, food intolerances, Coeliac Disease and Anaphylaxis. Being able to identify the 14 Allergens and knowing what to do in case you find yourself with someone having an anaphylactic reaction were the cornerstones of the training.  We even got an opportunity to practice using an Adrenaline Auto-Injector often known as an Epi- Pen (be it without the needle) which was strangely exhiilarting and scary.  

One of the attendees told us about her experience having gone into Anaphylactic shock, minutes after eating an apple, It really drove home the message that food that is perfectly safe for most of the population, can be deadly for others. Knowing what to do in an emergency and helping customers to identify allergens in the food you serve should really be a top priority for the catering industry. 

The attendees came from a wide range of backgrounds, some in the catering trade and others like myself, interested to know more about the law and wanting to be better at catering for customers with allergies. Although my own daughter is not allergic to food, the fact that she has Coeliac Disease, really affects our choices where we go out to eat.  In a recent study, undertaken by the FreeFrom Eating Out Awards team at the Allergy Show in Liverpool, researchers found that only 17% of allergy sufferers trust waiting staff to give them accurate information about any allergens in the food they are serving.  Over half of the people surveyed said they didn't trust restaurants to understand their allergies or special dietary needs. 

That's quite a statement, and sadly one which we as a family find to be quite accurate.  The majority of incidents occur outside of the home so it's important eating establishments do their bit to ensure customer safety. And as Liz emphasised, allergies are on the increase. Being able to cater safely for the allergy community makes sense, both financially and commercially.  One of the people on the course told me about an incident in his restaurant and I could see how profoundly affected he had been by what had happened. No one working at a cafe or a restaurant wants to be responsible for making someone seriously ill, and it is imperative, employers ensure that adequate training is provided. 

I recommend  you have a look at Allergy Aware Kitchen's Website for further information.  They will soon be running on line training and can design the courses to fit in with your specific requirements and timescales

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