Food-to-go and hospitality operators will now be able to independently monitor the customer experience of allergy sufferers eating in their establishments. Food safety consultancy NT Assure has collaborated with Serve Legal, one of the UK’s leading independent compliance audit companies, to develop the Customer Experience Allergen Audit.
The audit gives operators and retailers a means to independently evaluate and, where necessary, improve staff training, allergen labelling, communication and operational performance around allergens.
It is designed to reduce risk, keep customers safe and improve their dining or food-to-go eating experience. Using unannounced mystery diners, the audit measures how customers with allergies and dietary conditions are made to feel when eating out and how safe they believe they are when being guided by a brand’s information and staff.
Serve Legal and NT Assure have identified five key warning signs that indicate that food operators should review their practices around allergens:
1. Mis-communication between staff and diners/customers that leads to allergen complaints.
2. Staff are inconsistent with their response when asked by customers about allergens.
3. Printed and online allergen information for customers is out of date and/or inaccurate.
4. Cross-contamination occurs during food preparation and service, for example, using the same utensils or equipment for different food types.
5. Staff are giving uninformed advice on allergens when chatting with customers.