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Managing allergenic ingredients on your menu

22/02/2016 - 1:29 pm

Ensure your team know:

  • who will answer guests’ questions regarding menu items? Some diners who have food allergies may call ahead to find out about menu options. Designate one staff member to whom such calls should be referred.
  • who will be responsible for checking the ingredients used in menu items?
  • how should staff members handle an allergic reaction?


Checking ingredients: chefs must read ingredient and allergen info for the products they use every time they prepare a food allergy order, because manufacturers may change ingredients without notice.


Identifying allergens found in unexpected places: e.g cooking oil which is often used for many foods.

  • desserts (may incorporate allergy causing ingredients like nuts, use fruits as an alternative)
  • sauces (contain many ingredients)
  • pastry-covered dishes (prevent the individual from making a visual inspection of the food)
  • buffet tables (possibility of cross contact)
  • Worcestershire sauce (may contain fish e.g. anchovies/sardines)
  • barbecue sauce (may contain allergens like pecans)

Make your menu easy for those with food allergies to understand. Provide as much information as possible about ingredients directly on the menu. e.g Banana cake describe as Banana-Walnut cake.


In addition, you can also include a printed note at the bottom of your menu or on your website including the following. 'For those who have food allergies, please inform your server. We will be happy to discuss any necessary changes'.


Keep printed materials and information on the website up to date.

Avoid cross-contact (mixing a little of the allergy-causing food with otherwise safe food) while preparing and serving the meal e.g. unclean hands/gloves, shared equipment, utensils etc.


Correcting a mistake in meal preparation: the only acceptable correction is to discard the order and remake it. Removing the offending ingredient e.g. scraping nuts off the top of an ice-cream or taking the cheese of a burger is no solution.


If a guest has an allergic reaction do not be afraid to call emergency medical services


Let all your team know about food allergens, give them this document to read, take a copy and pin it up on the notice board.




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