Food Allergies - Why Chef Blog | Ginsberg's Foods

Dealing with Food Allergies

Gluten Free Food Allergies Serving At A Restaurants Ask Our Food Service Distributor Team What We Can Do for you

How Many American Suffer From Food Allergies?

Thirty-two million people in the US suffer from food allergies sending someone to the emergency room every three minutes.  One in 13 children live with food allergies and rates are on the rise. The cause of food allergies is unknown. The bottom line is a person’s body mistakes certain nutrients in food as harmful, which triggers an inflammatory response that can threaten a person’s life.  Food allergies can arise at any age and any stage of a person’s life. The reaction can range from hives to anaphylaxis which is life-threatening.    

Big Eight Food Allergens Have Become Nine

You may have heard of the Big Eight allergens: Milk, Eggs, Fish, Shellfish, Tree nuts, Wheat, Soybeans.  This list has just been updated by the FDA as of January 1st, 2023, to the Big NINE now including Sesame Oil and Seeds. Other foods that are not on this list can still cause an adverse reaction in people and these are called intolerances.  Don’t let this make you take them less seriously as the symptoms are the same as labeled allergens.  

FDA Nine Major Food Allergens Updated

How To Handle a Customer’s Food Allergy?

First of all, is to take it seriously when a customer states they have a food allergy. Now is not the time to get snarky and complain about the special plate you have to prepare for just one person to the waitress, the hostess and your staff. For those who have a food allergy or many others, going out to eat is stressful.

Will they have an alternative for me to eat? What if they don’t know all the ingredients? Are they going to be rude when I put in my dietary request?  Am I going to get a reaction from something that was cross-contaminated on my plate? Are they using cleaned items to prepare the meal? This for some is a life-threatening decision to just go out or order takeout.

In their head, they are running 150 scenarios in the hope that they don’t have a food allergy reaction. It’s tough for them to go out and trust anyone, especially if the allergy has life-threatened consequences. They just want to enjoy a meal and feel normal for a bit.  The best is once they know your establishment is a “safe place” to eat with their known food allergy, you are on their go-to list.  They will tell their friends, their family and you can expect more business. The customer will be truly grateful they can eat amongst friends and family without the fear looming in their head… What If?

Steps Your Restaurant Should Take When Handling Food Allergy Requests

If any customer states that they have an allergy your staff should communicate it clearly from the server to the kitchen through each and every course.

  1. It should be written on the ticket as well as verbally communicated and confirmed. Hopefully if the customer made a reservation you have a heads up to prepare your team. 
  2. Every component of every dish must be checked to be sure it does not contain allergens.
  3. It is also important to be sure there was no cross-contact or cross-contamination of the allergens from prep through service.  
  4. Best practice is also to involve a manager to be certain every precaution is taken.  


New York State Food Allergy Regulations

Keep on top of new state and federal regulations in regards to food allergens. Under new  NYS guidelines you can no longer state that you don’t know if allergens are present. The FDA has also issued new food allergen posters that are required to be hung in every food establishment.  This poster mandatory to be posted in all food establishments in a conspicuous place just like choking and CPR posters this Food Allergy Poster.



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