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Risk management strategies for food allergen management

A number of risk management strategies can be employed to manage food allergens as detailed below. Consideration of these risk management strategies may assist authorised officers to help educate business about food allergen management.

Customer service strategies

  • Does the food service provide customers with accurate information about the content of meals when they ask? What evidence can they provide (e.g. food allergen menu matrix)?
  • Does the food service have a specific protocol to follow if a customer says they have a food allergy? Can they provide you with a copy?
  • Does the food service include a note on the menu or service counter asking customers to inform service staff of their food allergy when ordering food?
  • Does the business have an incident log book and is this used for allergen related complaints?

Product information strategies

  • Does the food service only accept labelled foods or foods supplied with ingredient information (Product Information Form)?
  • Does the food service have a process in place to check all ingredients (including sauces, spices, garnish, oils, dressings etc) for food allergens each time they are ordered and received?
  • Does the food service educate staff to not substitute ingredients when preparing food for a customer with food allergy? If a substitute ingredient must be used, is there a protocol in place to ensure the product is checked for food allergen content?
  • Does the food service have a food allergen menu matrix for each menu item? How regularly is the food allergen menu matrix updated? An example of a food allergen menu matrix and a template can be downloaded from: www.foodallergytraining.org.au

Food preparation strategies

  • Does the food service have processes in place to avoid cross contamination of food allergens? Can they provide you with examples of these processes?
  • Does the food service have a protocol in place that requires staff to handle food safely with clean hands washed with warm, soapy water? Hands should be washed regularly and they should be re-washed before preparing food that must be free of a specific allergen.
  • Does the food service clean and sanitise work surfaces, utensils and other food-contact items between foods?
  • Are the staff in the food service aware that even trace amounts can be harmful?
  • Does the food service store food safely in labelled containers?
  • Does the food service have a dedicated area for preparing allergen free meals?
  • Are the staff in the food service aware that food that is safe for one person with a food allergy may be unsafe for another person with a different food allergy?
  • Does the food service prepare meals for people with food allergy first?
  • Does the food service have a clear way of identifying the meal for the person with food allergy (e.g. coloured toothpick for plated meals or stickers for wrapped foods)?
  • Does the food service always take the meal to the customer with a food allergy separately (not whilst carrying other meals to avoid getting the meals mixed up)?
  • Does the food service check the correct allergen free meal is given to the person with the food allergy declared on serving the meal?

Staff education strategies

  • Does the food service have a Food Safety Supervisor (if required in the jurisdiction) or nominated person responsible for overseeing food safety management? What training has this person undertaken and when? Did the training include comprehensive food allergen management training?
  • Does the food service train and test all staff regularly in food safety, hygiene and allergen awareness? (free online training is available from www.foodallergytraining.org.au)
  • Does the food service display The Usual Suspects poster in their kitchen? http://www.foodauthority.nsw.gov.au/_Documents/retail/the_usual_suspects_poster.pdf

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Content created October 2018

A food allergy awareness project supported by

The National Allergy Strategy is an initiative of the Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASCIA) and Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia (A&AA), as the leading medical and patient organisations for allergy in Australia.

This project received funding from the Australian Government Department of Health.