What is an allergen?
An allergen is a substance that can cause a reaction for some individuals. The body sees the food as a foreign substance, causing the immune system to react, overproducing antibodies to attack the allergen. This causes an allergic reaction.
What is an intolerance?
Individuals with food intolerances have trouble digesting certain foods and can experience uncomfortable reactions, such as stomach pain, bloating, wind, diarrhea, skin rashes, and itching.
Allergies vs Intolerances
Allergy symptoms tend to be more severe in comparison to intolerances and can sometimes be life-threatening to those with severe allergies
An intolerance tends to affect the body serval hours after eating with much milder symptoms. Lactose intolerance is a common example of a food intolerance. Allergic reactions are much more intense with symptoms showing in as little as 30 minutes to 2 hours.
Allergies tend to become apparent in early childhood and have a higher risk of forming if one or both parents suffer from allergies. Intolerances can sometimes be genetic but can develop over time and be experienced at any point in life. Some individuals might experience a variety of symptoms with the same food. An example of this is developing lactose intolerance - as you age, your body produces less of the enzyme that digests lactose in dairy products, thus reactions may become more prevalent and/or unpleasant.
What should businesses be doing?
Accurate food labels ensure customers can confidently purchase food safe for them to consume. This means food operators need to provide food and allergen information for prepacked and non-prepacked food and drinks and ensure that when all food is prepared, allergens are handled and managed effectively to reduce risk.
When providing or selling food directly to customers, food businesses must give correct allergen information in writing, so that customers feel confident in the food they are purchasing.
For takeaway food, allergen information must be provided either over the phone, online, or through an app before the purchase confirmation is complete. Allergen information must also be provided when the food is delivered.
Since October 2021 a new legislation for pre-packed for direct sale food have been implemented – Natasha’s Law. Any foods that are packaged at the same place it is sold to customers now require a full ingredients list with allergens emphasised e.g., embolden.
Smart Chef is an online recipe management system storing all menu information in one place. Smart Chef reduces risk in kitchens by providing chefs with accurate, live, and compliant information on the dishes served to customers. Ensuring chefs are correctly preparing food, Smart Chef curates recipe cards giving chefs simple instructions to prepare each meal along with the allergens present. This is especially effective when dealing with allergy orders and can help reduce the risk of cross-contamination. Our platform simplifies this task, managing all allergen information in one place.
Smart Menu gives customers real-time allergen and nutrition information through the digital menu management application data fed through Smart Chef. Smart Menu can be used to filter menus to show dishes that do not contain specific allergens or to customers dietary requirements. This makes it simple and easy for customers with allergies have access to food information and make their food decisions with confidence.
Smart Menu shows customers a full ingredient declaration for each dish available for guests to read through, so that they are assured they will not be eating anything of risk.
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