Many of our patrons have expressed a desire to have all food items labeled with all ingredients. A common misconception is that labeling creates a safer eating environment when in reality it does not. Individuals assume the label is always 100% accurate and stop asking questions. Therefore we use the following protocol to guide how we work with our customers on their allergy dining concerns.
Our protocol is based on the “Food Allergy Training Guide for College and University Food Services” by the leading experts at Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE). A copy of this guide may be viewed at http://www.foodallergy.org/document.doc?id=137
At Wesleyan, our dishes are currently identified with color coded icons that indicate specific designations (vegan, vegetarian, made without gluten-containing ingredients etc.) as well as named using a common menu name (ex. chicken cordon bleu). Our protocol includes naming foods as clearly as possible to avoid confusion. (ie. walnut brownie vs. chocolate brownie, pine nut pesto vs. pesto, or shrimp alfredo vs. pasta alfredo). As the major 8 allergens that are most likely to cause severe reactions, are labeled within the name of the menu item, other items are not as we would be unable to accurately capture all sub-ingredients. See our COR icons (circle of responsibility) below:
The FARE guide, states that food services be able to communicate ingredients upon request. Our biggest focus in meeting this commitment is accuracy. To ensure accuracy, it is important to understand that our kitchens perform scratch cooking at each meal without the use of standardized recipes. Products come from different vendors nationwide whom may change formulations without notification. Similar menu items are often different each time they are served based on seasonal and local availability of ingredients.
In our system, the most accurate information will always come from the designated person in charge who can communicate the exact items that were actually used in preparation of that item that meal. This individual will NOT be the person serving; there are always managers and/or chefs on the floor available to help anyone with an ingredient question.
Key Components of the Bon Appétit management of allergens include:
- Allergen Awareness and Celiac Disease Training for all staff
- Ingredient questions directed to a dining or chef manager
- Signage to guests and staff
- Accurate menu nomenclature
- Individual communication with guests
We also recommend:
- Guests with food allergies meet with onsite manager/chef and refer to Resident Director
- Servers refer ingredient questions to the designated person in charge
- When in doubt, direct to another selection
- Maintain individual communication
With regard to menu planning and nomenclature, Bon Appétit:
- Discourages use of allergens in unexpected places
- Does not use peanut oil
- Will use major allergens in the menu name
- We avoid “this item contains _____”
- We will show products to guests when requested
- We always want guests to ask questions vs. make assumptions from signage
Of course those using our dining facilities need to be aware that the menu nomenclature that is provided is accurate to the best of our knowledge. However, vendors and products may change ingredients without our knowledge. We always recommend personal interaction with our Bon Appétit management staff as more specific information can be shared. Students have indicated to us that the personal approach helps them choose their food with confidence and feel like they get better information this way. The best and safest environment is a result of a joint effort between the food service provider and the guest with food allergies.