With food allergies impacting an estimated 32 million Americans, there’s not a foodservice operation out there that shouldn’t have allergy protection on their radar. Hotels are no exception. From banquet events to room service, restaurants, and more, there are a lot of opportunities within a hotel for things to go dangerously wrong. However, with the proper preparation and knowledge, hotel operators, staff and guests can rest easy knowing safety is a number one priority. Here are a few hotel-friendly tips to get you started!
Educate your staff.
The first step in educating your staff is to make sure your employees are aware of common food allergens. While almost any food is capable of triggering an allergic reaction, your staff should have the more common allergens on their radar, such as peanuts, cow’s milk, shellfish and soy. Once you’ve gone over these, make sure employees are knowledgeable about every menu item’s ingredients. Highlight dishes that have common allergens, and educate employees on ingredient substitutes if they’re available. Not only will this familiarity with allergens and menu ingredients make your staff more confident, but it will make guests more comfortable knowing they’re in safe hands.
Communicate with guests.
As another measure to make patrons comfortable, encourage them to communicate their allergies. Don’t make the mistake of relying on them to pick a safe choice. Add a note to room service menus and include signage throughout the hotel that reminds diners to communicate their allergies. If your staff is well-trained on menu ingredients, and in the know on customers’ allergies, it’s a can’t-go-wrong combo. They can serve as a trusty guide for customers to make safe ordering decisions. But, the communication can’t end there. Ensure your front of the house hotel staff pass any allergy-related issues along to the kitchen, so they keep it in mind — and avoid allergy culprits — when preparing customers’ food.
And while we’re talking about food prep, make sure your hotel’s kitchen shelves and amenities are stocked with allergen-free options. For example, have gluten-free bread available in case guests have a wheat allergy. Have a vegan option in the snack bar for guests with dairy allergies. Since food allergies are so widespread, there are options aplenty when it comes to alternatives — and it’s worth your while to offer them. Having ready-made alternatives on hand allows guests to satisfy their hankerings, worry-free. And a little preparation doesn’t just keep guests happy, it makes life easier for your staff, and ensures you don’t miss out on sales.
Last but certainly not least, take measures to avoid cross-contamination in the kitchen. For starters, train kitchen staff on critical sanitation practices, such as washing their hands and surfaces before prepping allergen-free dishes. Use best storage practices, including setting up separate storage for raw meats and seafoods, and keeping both of them away from ready-to-eat foods. And when it comes to cooking, use equipment that’s less prone to cross-contamination. For example, closed cavity ovens are safer than fryers, since you’re not running the risk of cross-contact by cooking different foods in the same oil.
Consistency is the name of the game.
If you’re consistent with this “safety first” routine, you can ward off potential allergy-related catastrophes and keep your guests safe. But of course, there’s more to a great hotel dining experience than that. Consistency across the board — not just when it comes to safety — is key. To make sure you’re delivering the utmost in food consistency, get our handy checklist here!
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