According to the Food Standards Agency it is estimated that 1-2% of adults and 5-8% of children have a food allergy. This equates to around 2 million people living in the UK with a food allergy, however it does not include those living with a food allergy and/or intolerance, meaning the number of people affected is considerably more.
Craig Wilson, head chef and owner of Eat on the Green in Udny Green, says that it is essential that restaurants take a proactive approach to accommodate the growing number of customers with intolerances and allergies.
“There is no doubt that the number of diners who visit our restaurant, with food allergies or intolerances is rising. As a result, businesses must take steps to understand the needs of these individuals and effectively offer alternatives, which can be safely consumed.
“Communication with customers is essential and that begins from the moment the booking is made, highlighting specific concerns and requirements ensures that the restaurant is ready and prepared in advance. Whilst kitchen staff will have clear protocols in place to avoid cross contamination and ensure food is handled safely, front of house staff are responsible for knowing the menu inside out. This will ensure they can answer any questions or highlight specific dishes which would not be suitable. Therefore, food intolerances should form a key part of staff training and within our business, we hold a staff briefing at the beginning of each shift and within this, any special requirements or points of note would be highlighted and acted upon.
“Listening to customers and tailoring dishes in accordance with their needs and requirements, will ensure that their visit is a memorable one, for all the right reasons. Where intolerances and allergies are concerned, being flexible and accommodating also builds trust and gives diners peace of mind that they will enjoy the food prepared for them, safe in the knowledge that there will be no adverse affects. It also worth working closely with suppliers to source alternative ingredients which can be substituted within dishes, to keep dishes interesting and flavoursome for those who have intolerances or allergies.
“In today’s competitive marketplace, quality and consistency is what sets good restaurants from the bad. As a result, it is more important than ever that restaurants work hard to ensure staff have clear guildelines on what is expected from them in terms of customer service. Food must be as fresh as possible, using ingredients which are locally grown or reared ensures optimum flavour. Maintaining high standards within all levels of the business will have a positive impact on customers, as they know what to expect each time they visit. In the world of social media, having a strong focus on creating positive relationships with customers can result in excellent word of mouth recommendations and promotion, via online reviews and feedback.”
Eat on the Green is an award winning, fine dining restaurant in Udny Green, Aberdeenshire. For more information visit www.eatonthegreen.co.uk or call 01651 842337.