• Course 2: Lesson 4: Food Allergy Awareness for Front-of-the-House Staff

    Through education and training, servers can provide a safe and trusted dining experience for customers with food allergies, and enhance the guest experience by understanding and appreciating their unique needs. The front and back of the house must communicate seamlessly to ensure guests with food allergies are served what they ordered, and that no other food contaminated their meal.

    The server must make sure they treat customer concerns with empathy and understanding, and never question a guest on the integrity or severity of the allergy. Always assume the allergy is severe.

    Read or Revisit “Understanding the Top Eight Most Common Food Allergens” in Course 1

    Service Staff Training Steps

    Step One: Know Your Food Allergens and Your Menu

    • Make sure you have been properly trained on the restaurant’s food allergy protocol.
    • Know and understand the top eight allergens.
    • Know what ingredients are in each dish on the menu.
    • Know which dishes contain common allergens.
    • Determine with the chef what dishes to offer guests with food allergies (for example, for a guest with celiac disease, identify all dishes that are gluten-free or which dishes can be made gluten-free).
    • Know the technical terms of allergens (for example, curds are a milk product, and albumin usually comes from eggs).

    Step Two: Identify Guests with Allergies and Communicate with the Chef

    • When first greeting a table of customers, servers may inquire if there are any guests with food allergies.
    • Check to see if the individual carries AllerNotes, or food allergy warning sticky notes and labels that notify foodservice workers of an allergy.
    • Notify your manager, chef, and sous chef that there is a guest with a severe food allergy in your restaurant.
    • The chef or an appropriately trained cook comes out to the table and speaks directly with the guest. 
    • Chef and guest determine the best dish to fit their dietary needs.

    Step Three: Note the Order is for a Guest with an Allergy

    • When placing the order, note “severe food allergy” and what type of allergen (i.e., severe food allergy—shellfish), and follow your restaurant’s food allergy protocols for noting an allergy.

    Step Four: Deliver the Right Product Safely and Quickly

    • Before handling the customer’s plate, wash hands thoroughly to prevent cross-contamination. Cross-contamination occurs when a food that does not contain any allergens is exposed to an allergen during storage, food preparation, cooking, or serving.
    • Ensure the special order does not come into contact with any other plate or food item.
    • Confirm with the chef that the dish is for your guest with the food allergy. The dish should be covered and labeled by the chef. Confirm that all components of the dish are allergen-free, including condiments, toppings, and sides.
    • Pick up food for delivery, and deliver the allergen-free meal to your guest first. Follow with the remainder of the dishes to other guests at the table.

    Step Five: Ensure Guest Satisfaction

    • Confirm confidence and satisfaction of the guest with the dish. If the guest has any doubt about the integrity of the meal, have your manager or sous chef review the content and preparation with the guest.
    • Confirm satisfaction with the guest at the conclusion of the meal.
    • In the event of an allergic reaction: call 911 from the nearest phone.

      The information contained in this lesson is meant to increase your general awareness of food allergies and how you can better serve guests who have them. This video lesson is for information purposes only. It is not intended to be an all-inclusive education on food allergies nor to establish an official protocol for handling food allergies in your foodservice establishment.