It”s really quite scary how many people have food allergies now
I’m allergic to kiwifruit and latex they have some of the same enzymes in them. I did some filming last year where I had to wear a latex mask, I came out in a dreadful rash all over my face that lasted for about 4 days. Recently I was in hospital and the area around my bed was a latex free area , but the other beds in the room had latex gloves above each bed and I came out in a rash from what ever was being given off by the latex and all the boxes of gloves had to be removed. You may be wondering what this has got to do with food…….. let me explain about to this to you.
This is becoming a real problem , so many food handlers are using latex gloves when handling food now that it’s actually concerning me quite strongly. Now I dont have a problem if gloves are required, but I do think society has gone a bit overboard with this practice in general for many reasons.
1. Good glove practices are not always in place for instance:
the amount of times I have seen people handle food , then handle money , or rub their noses then handle food again …… not acceptable people.
2. Food manufacturers/providers ….. please have good food safety practices in place think about the fact that many people are allergic to latex and replace all those latex gloves with vinyl or plastic gloves. They are often cheaper than latex and are very food safe.
Make sure you train your staff about allergies and allergens and look at things which make your business less of an allergen risk area.
Also train your staff in the processes that go with wearing gloves, IE: change your gloves regularly, wash your hands regularly , Take your gloves off before handling money or blowing your nose or rubbing your face, then wash your hands again.
3. Have a booklet or a list of potential Allergens on site so that if somebody askes you if something has a certain product or preparation method that you and your staff (that you just have given great training to) will be able to talk to the customer and reassure them that their food is safe or unsafe for them so that they can make the choice of eating a particular thing or trying something different on your menu.
4.Have good practices in place that keep your foodstuffs separate ie: Gluten free products or nuts are not stored open but in containers or sealed bags so that they dont get contaminated by things in the air coming from other foods and viceversa.
Since being in my own business I have made many conscious decisions with my food that I make and the registered kitchen I work in to make everything as allergen freindly as possible. I do not bring any peanut products in to the kitchen at all as its such a strong allergen.
Any Gluten Free products that I make are made before anything else is produced and kept totally separate and I make a range of allergen free goodies on a regular basis and have started to make a name for being able to cater for special dietary requirements , that may be for religious reasons or for people with allergens.
I do this because I know what its like to have food allergies , whilst not life threatening for me still is enough to make life very uncomfortable for days and I feel that just because somebody cannot eat particular things because of what ever reason be it religious or allergic reactions they shouldnt have to miss out on eating good food.
So Food producers/Manufacturers please please start thinking about giving your staff good training both in Allergen Knowledge and Information and also Good Food Glove handling practices and make our eating times better for everybody.
It doesnt necessarily mean that you have to spend lots of money to teach these good practices , and the rewards you will get from your customers with special food requirements will come back to you in more ways than you think.