It's not just about peanuts

Do your staff know about the different allergens – do they really? Here’s a little cheat sheet to help you and your staff.

One in thirteen children are diagnosed with a life-threatening food allergy. With allergies in children increasing from 1997 to 2011 by 50% according to Food Allergy Research and Education, there are no signs that this will slow in the coming years. Food service industries, schools, and parents are attempting to track the different allergies and symptoms to prevent a vicious reaction.

In recognition of National Peanut month -the most prolific in growth of all food allergies, an extensive list of other food allergens to be on alert for was gathered here:


Around the globe, it has been argued that roughly 75% of the world’s population is lactose intolerant. Most of the individuals that have the allergy do not suffer from a serious allergic reaction, not recognizing that they are lactose intolerant. With this much of the population having allergies to milk, there are many who have severe pain from ingesting milk and other dairy products.

Did you know casein, a protein found in milk, is often found in breath mints?


Although very rarely the cause of a life-threatening reaction, egg allergies affect children mostly and are outgrown over time.

Did you know that marshmallows often use egg whites instead of gelatin to help retain their shape?

Fish and Shellfish

Unlike eggs, fish and shellfish allergies are often developed in adulthood. Fish allergies are among the most often to be caused by cross-contamination,  A good fish restaurant can still be a place for people with allergies can go, it’s just vital that cross-contamination is halted and staff understand the dangers.

Watch for soy sauce! Common sauces and condiments use shellfish. Watch the ingredient list for soy sauce and Worcestershire.

Tree Nuts

Walnuts, almonds, and cashews are among the many tree nuts that cause this allergy. A person that is affected by the peanut allergen will have a reaction to these products as well.

Food isn’t the only dangerous category for those with tree nut allergies. Watch ingredient lists for soaps, lotions, and hair products. Gerbil food can also contain tree nuts.


Wheat contains gluten, and can be found in many products that a parent or person with the allergy may not expect, like: soy sauce, ketchup, soaps, and sunscreens. With it being such a common product, physicians may prescribe medication in the case that gluten is ingested or absorbed. It is generally advised to avoid products that contain these altogether.

In the instance of a reaction, all symptoms will be similar in that it will cause a tight throat, hives, and anaphylaxis in severe cases. The FDA requires that allergies be places on products that contain food allergens, but that should not prevent a thorough inspection of the ingredients for yourself.

Licorice has gluten. Salad dressings have gluten. It’s not just cake – seems like all the good things have gluten. But with more gluten-free options and more individuals looking for gluten-free alternatives, this is changing rapidly. Look for the Gluten Free symbol on your favorites.

The importance of Allergen Awareness training

Your staff understanding how to deal with an allergy sufferer is vital - if they don't, they could kill someone!

States are now becoming more aware of the importance of allergen training, it is now a legal requirement in the following states for at least one member of staff to be trained.

States where Allergen Awareness training is a legal requirement:

Correct Storage Procedures

According to the latest research over 40% of the U.S food supply is never consumed. (Food Safety News)

One of the reasons for this is restaurants simply not being sure of how to store food, what can be refrigerated and the best use of their food.

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Below are a few tips for you and your staff when it comes to food storage:

  1. Remember FIFO - The golden rule!

Let’s talk about stock rotation, we know you want to!

When using food that you have in stock it’s important to use stock with the shortest shelf life first. When storing or displaying food always put the stock with the shortest shelf life at the front – that way it will be used first.

       2. What needs to be refrigerated and at what temperature?

High risk TCS Foods  such as Milk, Eggs, Shellfish, Fish and Meats MUST be refrigerated – they are the main priority!  (FDA regulations).

It’s important to understand that keeping raw and TCS foods at 41°F or below will prevent or slow down pathogenic bacterial multiplication. Remember, the trick is to ensure that you keep food out of the Temperature Danger Zone.

Aside from High risk food, here is what else needs to be refrigerated at 41°F

  • Cooked meats, such as salami or ham
  • Pies and pates
  • Coleslaw, cottage cheese, and sandwich fillings
  • Vacuum packed raw meat, poultry, and fish
  • Anything labeled for refrigeration such as bottled sauces without preservatives.
  • The contents of opened cans once they have been transferred to suitable containers - never put an opened metal tin in the cooler! The metal will rust quickly and cause chemical contamination
  • Prepared salads
  • Some vegetables and fruit can be refrigerated if desired, but ensure they are separated from other foods.3. Stacking food in coolers – Best practice suggestions

Understanding how to stack a cooler correctly can reduce risks of cross contamination, keep food fresher for longer and ultimately save you time and money as you will be able to get longer use out of your food inventory.

Below are a few best practice suggestions:

  • Always store raw meat and poultry on shelves below other food so that blood or juices cannot drip onto other foods and cross-contaminate them
  • Allow enough room around food for air to circulate. This way the cooler will be able to operate more efficiently and maintain its target temperature
  • Do not leave cooler doors open any longer than necessary as the temperature inside the cooler will rise
  • Unless you have a separate cooler, do not put hot food in a cooler as this will raise the temperature inside and may cause condensation which can cause cross-contamination by dripping onto other food

    Labelling food correctly – Best practice suggestions

Labelling food is important so you and your staff know when food needs to be used by. Below is a breakdown of how you should label different types of food:

  • Highly perishable packaged food such as cooked meat, fish and dairy products, should be marked with a Use By date.
  • All ready-to-eat food that is prepared in-house must have a label that includes the name of the food and a Use By or expiration date.
  • Less perishable items such as dried fruit, flour, chips, cereals and canned food should have a Best Before

Barbecue Food Safety

What do Tom Cruise (Lt Pete “Maverick” Mitchell) and a hamburger have in common? They’re best when kept away from the danger zone……

Now, if you don’t understand the above terrible joke it means that you are either too young to have seen Top Gun (It’s on Netflix, definitely worth a watch) or you  need a little help in the Food Safety department. Either way if you work in the food industry and need your food handlers card, then you might just find the below article very useful With summer just around the corner people will be in the mood for BBQ food! Cooked well, Barbecue food is tasty and delicious but it’s important that you follow some simple rules to keep your customers safe.

What exactly is the food “temperature danger zone”?

Bacteria grows most rapidly in the range of temperatures between 40 °F and 140 °F (the danger zone), doubling in number in as little as 20 minutes.

When pathogens grow at these temperatures they are harmful and can make your customers very ill.

Below are a few tips for you and your staff.

Points to remember – Best Practice!

  • Store cold food at 41°F or lower
  • Prepare the food ideally within 30 minutes (if not put it back in the cooler)
  • You shouldn’t be making huge batches of food – cook little and often and don’t get things out too far in advance.
  • Cook the food to at least 135°F (to the center or thickest part)
  • Serve the food within 20 minutes (or hot hold at above 135°F)

Need more Information on being always food safe?

Our Food Handler Courses take just 2 hours to complete with online video learning that features real people in real kitchens. Understanding the food temperature danger zone is one of many important areas that staff will learn on their Food Handlers Course with The Always Food Safe Company.

Seafood Safety – Key Things to Remember

Seafood is becoming ever more popular among restaurant goers, however, from a food safety viewpoint it can be one type of food that without proper food hygiene training can put customers at risk.

Over the past few weeks there have been public health officials warning of increasing dangers from foodborne bacteria in raw and undercooked shellfish as summer approaches.

A worker from the State Food Health Department in Florida is reiterating the importance of cooking and handling seafood properly,

“Each year, we see cases of food-borne illness resulting from eating raw or under-cooked seafood, particularly raw oysters. I cannot stress enough the importance of enjoying oysters and other seafood that are properly handled and cooked.”

How to reduce the risk - 3 easy steps!

With seafood being a high-risk food there are several things you can do to greatly reduce the chance of foodborne illness.

  1. Wash your hands, properly! – This may sound obvious, but you’ll be surprised at the amount of people who don’t know how to wash their hands properly. Below is the simple 6 step guide.

Step 1: Wet your hands with warm running water and apply soap

Step 2: Rub your hands together palm to palm to make a lather

Step 3: Rub the palm of one hand along the back of the other and along the fingers. Repeat with the other hand

Step 4: Put your palms together with fingers interlocked and rub in between each of the fingers thoroughly.

Step 5: Rub around your thumbs on each hand and then rub the fingertips of each hand against your palms.

Step 6: Rinse off the soap with clean water and dry your hands thoroughly on a disposable towel. Turn off the tap with the towel and then throw the towel away.

     2. Food prep, things to remember - With food preparation there are a few simple steps to minimize cross contamination, which is a huge reason for many cases of foodborne illnesses. Below are just a few things to remember:

  • Sanitize your chopping boards after every use – Warm water and soap will not kill all bacteria on your chopping board after handling raw meat or seafood, so it’s important you clean all areas including chopping boards, work surface and knifes etc. properly with hot water and sanitizer.
  • Use different chopping boards for different food groups – To stop cross contamination we recommend using different chopping boards for different food types.
  • White - bakery and dairy products
  • Yellow - cooked meat
  • Brown - root vegetables
  • Red - raw meat
  • Blue - raw fish
  • Green - salad, fruit and fresh vegetables

    3.Eat shellfish promptly after cooking and refrigerate leftovers – Avoid the temperature danger zone! -

If you are unaware of the temperature danger zone, then you best watch our demo chapter on pathogenic bacteria. It’s important as someone who works in the food industry to understand how to heat and refrigerate food correctly.


Need help with your restaurant's food safety? Take a look at our Food Safety courses!