Allergy awareness – are your staff trained?

By MGA Trainer and Assessor David Grey-Smith.

Food allergy is an immune system response to a food protein that the body mistakenly believes is harmful. The reaction to a food can be potentially life threatening.

A food allergy is not the same as food intolerance. A food intolerance is the inability to properly digest or fully process certain foods. This may cause discomfort, but is not life threatening. The most common intolerances include lactose, gluten, yeast and sulphite.

Food labelling rules in Australia state that the ten most common allergens (peanut, tree nuts, milk, egg, fish, shellfish, wheat, sesame, soy and lupins) must be declared on packaging. Some foods, such as those sold fresh in delicatessens, must either have ingredients displayed or have ingredients available in case a customer asks about allergen content.

A matter of life and death

Correct allergen labelling can mean the difference between life and death for people with food allergies. So it’s vital that food businesses get it right.

Allergen awareness is the responsibility of everyone who works in the food service industry. The law in Australia requires food businesses to provide accurate information when a customer asks about potential allergens in the food they are served or sold. All staff need to be aware of the risks food allergies pose.

The Allergen Awareness course has been designed to assist owners and staff in any food business to gain knowledge about food allergens, and to develop best practice procedures for making their food business safe for customers with allergies.

On successful completion, a certificate will be issued.

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