By Carlen Lowe

One in 20 children and about 2 in 100 adults suffer from food allergies.  Most allergies are not severe and many cease to be an issue with age.  Allergies to peanut, tree nut, seed and seafood however can cause a severe life-threatening reaction known as anaphylaxis.

Your business may become liable for medical costs and damages if it is found to have breached its duty of care as a food service provider.  You may also be prosecuted by the relevant government body.

What does a food service proprietor need to do to ensure the safety of its customers and also the livelihood of its own business?

Educate your staff, be they management, service or kitchen staff and ensure they are:

  • aware of food allergies and their potential consequences;
  • knowledgeable in the common allergens, particularly those that can cause severe reactions such as peanuts, tree nuts, shellfish, milk and egg;
  • aware of safe food handling and cross contamination during food preparation and service;
  • able to provide accurate information on food ingredients if requested by a customer; and
  • able to, if reasonable and feasible, remove all allergens from food if requested by a customer and/or be able to offer alternatives.

You should ensure you are protected by public liability insurance.

There are online training modules which may assist with staff education.  The Queensland Government has also listed links to your industry associations which may assist with ensuring your business is prepared.

As always, education and prevention is better than responding to an undesirable situation.