Chefs employed in restaurants, cafes, diners and as caterers face a common problem: serving people with allergies to food, beverages or food additives.
Chefs need to know the types of food allergens they are most likely to encounter in their jobs. These include:
- Finned fish such as tuna, salmon and halibut
- Food additives, such as monosodium glutamate (MSG)
All of these allergens are found in food products commonly sold in most markets and used in recipes by chefs.
Professional chefs should offer menu substitutions to their dining customers. This allows customers…
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The Basis for Human Allergies
The human immune system is the basis for allergies to foods that cause a variety of symptoms. The top 8 common food allergies include, but are not limited to:
- Dizziness, fainting or feelings of lightheadedness
- Swelling of the lips, face, throat, tongue and other parts of the body
- Wheezing, trouble breathing and nasal congestion
- Hives, eczema and itching
- Abdominal pain, vomiting, nausea and diarrhea
- Tingling and itching in the mouth
Symptoms of food allergies may be minor or severe enough to cause serious medical problems such as:
- Rapid pulse
- Shock and severe drop in blood pressure
- Swelling of the throat of a feeling of a “lump in the throat” that restricts breathing
- Tightening and constricted airways
- Lightheadedness and Dizziness that causes loss of consciousness
Allergies to Beverages
Alcohol, of itself, may not cause allergies. Ingredients contained in alcohol or alcoholic beverages may be the likely cause of beverage allergies. Some contain yeast, such as beer and ale. Others, like wine cause allergies due to the fermentation process, which is a metabolic process that occurs in bacteria and yeast. In fermentation, sugar, rather than, oxygen is consumed to “grow” bacteria or organisms in yeast for aging.
Restaurants and dining facilities that offer beer, ale and wine need to be aware of the potential for beverage allergies. “Researchers from Johannes Gutenberg University” discovered that this wine region had 25% of a group of 950 living in this area with “mild signs of alcohol intolerance.”
Allergies to Food Cause Chronic Illnesses
In addressing the reasons for allergies to food resulting from a sensitive immune system, the past chairman of the committee on allergies to food of the American College of Allergists, James C. Breneman, M.D., “reported that many chronic illnesses are related to food allergies. He also said that even gallbladder attacks could be completely avoided by eliminating allergenic foods from the diet.”
Allergies to food may be one of the most overlooked causes of chronic illness. In total, there are more than 160 types of foods that cause allergies, accounting for 90% of allergic reactions.
What Chefs Need to Know to Prevent Harm to People They Serve
A chef prepares foods, handles food and in some situations, may serve it directly to their dining customers. This is a three-point range of potential for allergic reactions.
Professional chefs should offer menu substitutions to their dining customers. This allows customers to adjust their specific medical allergic needs to foods offered on the menu.
However, chefs should also set up their pantries so that those with allergic reactions to food are not exposed to ingredients that cause these reactions. For example, store allergenic foods in separate storage areas.
When displaying foods in display cases, allergenic foods should be either omitted or stored in a separate display case. Proper labeling of these allergenic foods helps avoid potential mishandling and use by serving staff.
Also, it is essential when cooking foods that all utensils, cooking and baking dishware, beverage glasses, cups, dishes, pots and pans be sanitized before preparing food for people allergic to certain ingredients.
The Ever Important Training
To put allergies to food in perspective, cooking for people with special nutritional needs and practicing safety in food preparation and serving, a food allergy course aids chefs in what they need to know to make their dining sites safe and healthy.
Some states, like Illinois, require chefs to be trained in an ANSI accredited food training course. These courses offer certification upon completion.
To assure customers a facility has comprehensively trained chefs on site, post training certifications in a visible location. Training courses include allergy awareness and a broad range of studies specifically related to allergies to food chefs need to know
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Source: TABC Blog by Learn 2 Serve