Spring is in the air and many colleges and universities are wrapping up the semester. Students are focused on passing finals and making plans for break but as the busy semester winds down, it’s still crucial to stay vigilant when it comes to food allergies. Here are five tips to stay diligent and food-allergy aware as the semester ends:
- Keep staff aware: Innocent human error can be the most dangerous of its kind. As the semester is wrapping up, staff may become more relaxed and this is when mistakes can occur. It’s important to keep your team’s food-allergy awareness sharp. During pre-shift meetings make it a point to talk about food allergy awareness and ways to prevent cross-contact and keep your team accountable.
- Keep storage areas clean and organized:As your supply clears out for the semester, food storage areas may become mixed-up and disorderly. It is important to always keep these areas clean from spills and damaged containers as well as keeping the space organized. Always store allergen-free foods away from allergen-containing foods and clearly identify which items are free-from allergens. Remind your team why this is important and do your due diligence by checking periodically to ensure they are maintained appropriately.
- Remember to double check ingredients: Manufacturers can change ingredient statements at any time. Just because you’ve been using the same product all semester long, does not mean that it is still 100% safe. Always double check ingredient statements when preparing allergen-free foods especially if you are using-up old inventory.
- Clearly identify food allergens in recipes: If you plan on having any specials before the end of the semester, make sure any recipe changes are reflected on your menus or labels. If a vendor or supplier changed an existing product or exchanged it for a new one, it is extremely important that your menus or labels reflect any product changes immediately. A clear description gives students the opportunity to choose meals that are safe for them!
- Reflect on the semester: What was super successful and what areas still need improvements? Take time to reflect with your team and students before they leave for break to get feedback on your allergy program. Use that feedback to make appropriate changes to your program for the next semester.
After a long semester of doing things right, now is the time to give it your best all the way to the finish line. Follow these steps to ensure continued due diligence and safety when serving students with food allergies!