Allergens – advice for hospitality professionals

>>>Allergens – advice for hospitality professionals
Allergens – advice for hospitality professionals 2019-02-06T12:19:43+00:00

Allergen Labelling

In light of widely reported recent tragic events, this month’s topic takes a closer look at food allergy advice and food labelling within the industry, providing helpful tips and advice, delivered through proprietary resources, (including our IOH webinar), aimed at providing expert advice and best practice.

Our new Management Guide ‘Catering for Special Diets focuses on allergies, coeliac disease, intolerances, legal obligations and advice on action in a medical emergency.  The guide will help you to understand what your staff should know.

The guide is written by Caroline Benjamin MIH, founder of The Food Allergy Training Company who advises: “Supplying an accurate matrix for your menus is a legal requirement and not a tick-box exercise. The information should be checked and updated if your supplier, ingredients or recipes change“.

Access a free sample colour-coded matrix chart to record your allergens.  The chart includes vegan and vegetarian. You can easily add additional allergens as appropriate. See an example here.

Hints and tips on your matrix

Always get a second person to verify the detail is correct

Where possible, have a column where you can state if items can be removed to make it free from an allergy.

Keep a list of your ingredients and their contents in a separate booklet – we have templates available for our clients.

Common errors displayed on customer allergy sheets can show lack of care.  This is more common than you think!


It is not enough to just have a sign to ask about allergies. You need to have accurate information available.  Signs on allergens should be throughout your establishment to constantly remind staff.

Emergency signage – in kitchen and by all the telephones.

Preparation areas need reminder signs when preparing an allergy-free dish.

Put up external signs to assist with communication with your team. Take a look at the FSA campaign #EasytoAsk. Create a poster which shows you support this and state how you hold the information and you can tell customers what you can and cannot do when there is a risk of cross contamination.

Don’t forget to:

Always ask about allergies

S- Speak up

K- Keep safe

Training – Review your training!  Is your online training giving accurate information?  Is it disclaimer training rather communicating the importance of allergens? Do you offer face-to-face training for managers and chefs? Face-to-face training can be cheaper than being prosecuted and more importantly, could save a life!

Allergen statistics

  • 4, 500 UK hospital admissions per year from food allergies
  • 10 food allergies deaths per year
  • 1 in 4 surveyed claim they or or a relative had suffered a reaction eating out
  • 8% of children affected by food allergies
  • 2% of adults affected by food allergies 

Source: Food Standards Agency

About Caroline Benjamin MIH

The Food Allergy Training Company was set up in 2013 prior to the FIR regulations being in place. Caroline is a keen advocate in being proactive and inclusive in providing allergy information and services.  Caroline is a judge for the Free From Eating Out Awards and in conjunction with Sally Trice, Caroline developed the RSPH Level 2 Award in Identifying and Controlling Food Allergy Risks.

As experts in this area Caroline can review your current training tools, audit your processes and create bespoke solutions to your business whether it be training or policies. She can also mystery dine at your venue and feedback her experience based on your staff’s knowledge and processes. To find out more visit or Caroline can be contacted on or 07732637292.

We’ve also produced a wide range of Management Guides on other topics of relevance to hospitality professionals, academics and students in partnership with industry experts. If you are not a member, find out how to join and gain full access to these exclusive resources.


Useful links:

Webinar: Alergens Made Simple, Are You Complying?

Management Guide: Catering for Special Diets