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Food Allergens – The Need to Get it Right

The death of a customer found to be from an allergic reaction, even after she had identified her allergies to staff

“An 18 year old girl, who was out having dinner with her friends, died after being served food which she was allergic to. Upon ordering her food, she made the waiter aware of her food allergies. This was missed by the chef, and as a result the girl suffered a deadly anaphylactic shock, and died in January 2015 as result of brain injuries she suffered.

The jury at the recent inquest into her death found that her death was caused by misadventure, and that there was a clear lack of communication between the staff. It is a stark reminder to all in the restaurant trade, that allergies need to be taken seriously, and a robust procedure should be in place for this information to be passed to the kitchen.

Have your kitchen staff been trained in relation to allergies? Would they know what to look for in ingredients when an allergy is notified to them? Do your menus clearly identify the need for customers to make allergies known?

It would be prudent to have an allergy form, which if a customer identifies an allergy, the customer can be asked to complete. This way there will be a clear record containing the information provided by the customer, which can be given to the kitchen when preparing their food. Kitchen staff should be aware of what ingredients go into the dishes they serve, and should be able to assess whether they can accommodate the allergy of not.”

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