Industry News | October 9, 2001

New Food Allergy Training Program Available

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More than seven million Americans suffer from some type of food allergy, causing them to be mindful of their food choices when cooking at home or dining at restaurants. The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN), in cooperation with the National Restaurant Association (NRA), today released the Food Allergy Training Program for Restaurants and Food Services providing restaurant-and-food service staff vital information on food allergies and how to handle potential situations.

As the restaurant-and-foodservice industry is considered the industry of choice, it is not an uncommon practice for restaurants to provide consumers options so they may customize menu items or alter food preparation methods. This is particularly evident when accommodating customers to meet their lifestyles, tastes and needs, and any health restrictions, which includes food allergies.

"A lot of customers have a lot of different requests. It could be a diet, it could be allergies. The one you take most seriously as a chef is allergies,'' says Marcus Samuelsson, chef and co-owner of Aquavit restaurant in New York City.

In an effort to educate and train restaurant-and-foodservice professionals regarding the complexities of food allergies, FAAN and the NRA compiled the Food Allergy Training Program, a two-part set with video and manual (Spanish and English versions available), which contains information for "front of the house'' and "back of the house'' staff. In addition to providing important allergy information, the video offers clear visual scenarios illustrating strategies for handling food-allergic customers from the moment they review the menu, place their order, and receive their food. There are several how-to demonstrations in food preparation and service and a section on what to do in an emergency situation.

Renowned industry leaders, including Chef Samuelsson of Aquavit, Sirio Maccioni of Le Cirque 2000, Chet England, Director of Quality Assurance of the Burger King Corporation, and Steven Grover, Vice President of Health & Safety Regulatory Affairs of the National Restaurant Association, are interviewed in the video. They convey the importance of education and training for food allergies and offer assurance to not only food-allergic consumers, but all consumers, that they will be provided a meal that is safe and to their requested specifications.

Anne Munoz-Furlong, FAAN Founder and CEO added, "Dining out has become a way of life for so many Americans. However, for those individuals with food allergies, it can be a risky experience. Each year, an estimated 30,000 food- allergic individuals visit emergency rooms as a result of a food induced, life-threatening reaction. I am confident that this program is a step in the right direction educating restaurant and food service personnel on the importance of food allergy safety.''

"The National Restaurant Association and the restaurant industry prides itself on having a well-informed, trained and educated staff on all aspects of food safety, including food allergy safety, in its 844,000 restaurants nationwide,'' said Steven C. Anderson, president and chief operating officer of the Association. "We are pleased to join with FAAN in providing this important resource to the industry's 11.3 million employees, and to showing consumers our proactive commitment to providing them a safe and enjoyable dining experience.''

"The Food Allergy Initiative is proud to support FAAN and the Training Guide. Children and adults must be able to trust that chefs and waiters understand the issues and treat their inquiries with the seriousness they deserve,'' said Amie Rappoport, Administrative Director of the Food Allergy Initiative." ''With this educational program, food-allergic families can dine out without fear.``

The training guide was made possible by a grant from the Food Allergy Initiative, and is available through the FAAN and the NRA.

The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing public awareness of, providing education about, and advancing scientific research on food allergies and anaphylaxis. FAAN has more than 23,000 members. FAAN provides educational information through its toll-free telephone line, 800-929-4040, or visit http://www.foodallergy.org .

The Food Allergy Initiative, a national non-profit organization, supports research to find a cure and clinical activities to identify and treat those at risk of food allergies and anaphylaxis. For more information, please contact Amie Rappoport at 212-527-5835, or visit http://www.FoodAllergyInitiative.org .

The National Restaurant Association, founded in 1919, is the leading business association for the restaurant industry, which is comprised of 844,000 outlets and a work force of 11.3 million employees. Along with the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation, the Association works to represent, educate and promote the rapidly growing industry. For more information call 800-482-5375, or visit http://www.restaurant.org .