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Consumer FAQ’s for Allergy Aware Scheme

Accreditation

How would the restaurant gain its accreditation?

The process is quite lengthy to ensure that the food outlet has everything in place to be compliant with the accreditation. This is the process.

Restaurant applies for accreditation. Discussion will take place with restaurant on whether the restaurant is at a suitable stage to go forward for accreditation.

If it was felt at this point that the restaurant was not yet ready to apply allergy UK would provide support to the restaurant to enable them to apply at a later date when procedures etc. are in place.

If it was felt that the restaurant is ready to move forward, a pre –audit self-assessment will be sent to the restaurant which will need to be completed. This covers all policies and procedures on allergen management from supplies and deliveries to staff training and front of house procedures.

Evidence must be provided to ensure that specific levels of training have been met:

      • Catering Manager – Level 3 in Food Safety plus Level 2 Allergen qualification from Ofqual regulated training provider/training course
      • Front of house Manager/Supervisor – Level 2 in Food Allergen Management
      • All Waiting Staff and Food Handlers – Basic level 1 training in allergen awareness (which can be on-line including the FSA on-line course, however procedures must be in place to ensure that all waiting staff must report any customer allergy needs to the Front of House Manager/Supervisor or a member of the specialist ‘Allergy Knowledge Team’ to deal with).
      • All staff are required to watch the AAS educational video which gives training on areas such as cross contamination and the seriousness of allergic reactions
      • Evidence must be provided to show staff knowledge and practice in service for customers with food allergy or intolerance from ‘front of house through to kitchen’. This includes:
      • Evidence of policies and procedures in place to ensure safe and effective handling of allergens, including menu management
      • Evidence that consideration has been given to food supply and allergen content of menus
      • Evidence that the Food Information for Consumers are being adhered to in practice
      • We also expect catering outlet(s) to have trained First Aiders with a knowledge of how to respond in an incident where a customer may have an allergic reaction
      • On-going adherence to the Allergy Aware Scheme Charter which is a commitment to continued best practice
      • At least one trained first aider is expected to be on site at all times alongside all other staff knowing the emergency 999 procedure
      • Once application is returned to AUK and evidence required has been met, we will then organise for an independent Environmental Health Officer to carry out audit on the restaurant
  • Audit will then be sent back to AUK with recommendations as to pass or fail.

Allergic individuals would rather listen to personal recommendation rather than an accreditation, what makes the accreditation so robust?

  • All the above steps are in place to ensure a robust accreditation including the use of an independent Environmental Health officer or food safety expert auditor with allergen knowledge to carry out the audit

Is it just highlighting the risks, or changing the menu to remove the risk?

  • The accreditation is dependent upon the restaurant having good procedures and policies in place to ensure that all staff are ‘Allergy Aware’ and understand the needs of the allergic customer
  • They must be able to provide evidence that will satisfy the auditor that procedures are being followed, this will include highlighting any potential risk areas with the expectations that these are remedied prior to accreditation
  • Evidence of good processes to ensure allergen information must be available, this will include information on the menu or in the form of an allergy matrix. Examples of good practice must be clear, for example in removing allergens where possible

How would you assure consistency in chain restaurants?

  • The accreditation is given to each individual outlet, not to the overall chain

How far does accreditation stretch, is it from menu choice to service, to the chef in the kitchen?

  • The Allergy Aware Scheme accreditation covers all areas from suppliers, prep and handling, staff training and front of house service
  • Evidence is required to show a high standard of allergen knowledge and practice in customer service for those with food allergies

How often would it be followed up?

  • The Accreditation requires an annual audit for renewal, there will however be unannounced checks throughout the year

Will the staff just have to fill out the FSA online certificate which claims to be 4 hours of work?

  • No. The evidence required to show that the restaurant is up to the standard required by the accreditation is extremely in-depth. (See answers above)

Will this just be a tick box exercise?

  • Far from it! Restaurants will need to show that they take the requirements of the Accreditation seriously and go over and above the requirements of the Food Information for Consumers regulations

What would you do if an individual became ill in one of the accredited restaurants?

  • Part of the Accreditation is ensuring that policies are in place covering emergencies.
  • At least one trained first aider is expected to be on site at all times alongside all other staff knowing the emergency 999 procedure
  • Allergy UK have a Crisis management plan that covers investigating the restaurants should someone be taken ill, and will investigate and remove the accreditation if deemed necessary

How could you guarantee the restaurant will continue to work to the standard required?

  • The Accreditation is renewed annually by audit, but it is heavily focused on staff training to ensure all staff including new members are trained to an appropriate level

 

Restaurant staff

How can it be assured that all staff take the accreditation seriously?

  • Staff must be trained to a required level and the restaurant must have procedures in place to ensure this is kept up to date
  • The restaurant sign up to the ‘Allergy Aware Scheme Charter’ which is a commitment to continued best practice in Allergen Management

Will staff be taught consequences if they do not comply with the regulations and how allergies work?

  • As part of the accreditation we would expect that the restaurant has procedures in place to ensure that the relevant staff are monitored regularly on their understanding of specific procedures regarding management of allergens within the restaurant environment

How can you guarantee that staff will not use “I cannot guarantee” to safeguard the restaurant

  • The Accreditation is about allergen awareness and good service for the customer.
  • The Accreditation is centred on good management procedures regarding allergen management and staff awareness of the needs of the allergic customer. If the audit showed that this isn’t happening in practice then they would not be awarded the accreditation

How can you guarantee staff turnover wouldn’t diminish the accreditation?

  • Staff turnover is always a concern in the catering industry. The Accreditation requires ongoing adherence to procedures regarding staff training and the presence of a knowledge team at all times

How can you guarantee consistency throughout all team members?

  • As previous question

How will you check the staff are continuing standards?

  • All staff are expected to work within the parameters of the Allergy Aware Scheme Charter which is a commitment to continued best practice in Allergen Management including having a knowledge team in place. There will be occasional unannounced spot check audits and mystery shoppers 

 

Cross Contamination

Will the staff have training on the dangers of cross-contamination?

  • All staff are required to hold specific levels of training depending upon their role, this must include allergen specific training not just hygiene training for example
  • The Educational video that all staff must watch focuses heavily on the risks of cross contamination

Cross-contamination can occur so easily, it would demand extra vigilance from all staff members... How would this be monitored?

  • Audits will identify areas of risk, and we would expect procedures to be in place to minimise cross contamination, if it was thought that staff weren’t adhering to procedures and taking it seriously they would not receive the accreditation

If may contain and cross contamination is not legally binding, how can we be assured safety when eating out?

  • The FIR regulations cover the use of ‘May Contain’ (precautionary) statements and restaurants must be adhering to this to be compliant to the Accreditation
  • The Accreditation is for those restaurants that want to go the extra mile and have the highest standard of allergen knowledge and procedures in place, enabling diners to have the information to hand to be able to make informed choices

 

Misunderstanding of Allergies

How will you guarantee that Gluten is not the only allergen that is understood by staff, as that is the most focused allergen at the moment?

  • The Accreditation has the highest expectation of allergen knowledge, and this includes all of the 14 top allergens

Will the staff be made aware that a nut allergy is not the only food allergen that can cause death?

  • Training covers the impact of allergy and that all of the 14 top allergens have the potential to cause severe allergic reactions

How will the staff know about allergens that are outside the top 14 food allergens?

  • Although the FIR regulations cover the top 14 allergens, we try to ensure that staff understand that there may be other foods that people might react to, and because of this they should take all requests from diners seriously and provide information wherever possible

Will people be educated about the fact that allergens can be in multiple foods i.e. milk is in chocolate and butter so allergic individuals cannot eat any of these?

  • Restaurants will be expected to be able to provide information on where all allergens may be found, this must be cascaded down from supply of goods from manufacturers, to front of house staff
  • There must be procedures in place that all staff are aware of around allergen labelling, and there must be a ‘knowledge team’ in each restaurant that staff can go to, even if they are unsure themselves

Will there be low FODMAPs in restaurants?

  • FODMAPS are a relatively new concept in the cause of food intolerance symptoms, so for purposes of the Accreditation will not be highlighted specifically. However as in the earlier question staff should be trained in taking all dietary requests seriously

 

For more information on our Allergy Aware Scheme, please contact Allergy UK for more details:

Email: allergyaware@allergyuk.org

Telephone: +44 (0) 1322 470336