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Preparing Allergen Free Foods in Your Restaurant

Cambro Blog - Allergen Launch imageFor those suffering from food allergies, dining out could prove to be a big challenge. Cross-contact is a major concern for consumers with allergies as even a slight amount of could be potentially dangerous. One hundred and fifty food allergen-related deaths occur annually with 50% of food allergy related deaths occurring away from home. Historically, there have been few resources for the food service industry in this area. In fact, only two States (RI and MA) require food worker training on food allergens. The FDA Food Code only also requires that the Person-In-Charge have general knowledge of the 8 Major Allergens and symptoms of a reaction.

Allergen management is especially a problem in smaller kitchens that are not able to accommodate separate storage and preparation areas or that have limited training and resources. Shared equipment, improper food labeling, inadequate ventilation, shared utensils, aprons, self-serve stations, cooking oils/fryers and poor sanitation of preparation areas are the major causes of cross-contact.

Avoiding Cross-contact

AllergenBlog - quoteCareful measures must be taken to ensure that when ingredients containing allergens are being prepared in close proximity to ingredients that are allergen-free that the two do not come into contact with one another. “Allergen proteins may remain on food contact surfaces or equipment and utensils if not sanitized properly,” shared Victoria Griffith MasterTrainer for AllerTrain and CEO/Owner of Griffith Safety Group, Inc. This could be especially harmful to someone who suffers from a serious allergy. Even a trace from a ladle or spoon that was used to pour peanut sauce then simply wiped off and used for a different sauce could cause a reaction in a person who has a peanut allergy. Cooking does not eliminate the chances of a person having a reaction. For operators that have limited size kitchens preparing allergen-free meals involves careful planning and prepping these items on specific days and/or hours and with specific – designated equipment.”

Here are some recommendations to help you safely prepare allergen-free meals in a non-dedicated kitchen:

  1. Manage Your Ingredients
    1. The first step is to ensure that your food vendors declare food allergens on package labels so you know exactly what you are getting. You should not purchase from manufacturers that change or substitute ingredients without notice–especially if your restaurant is labeled allergen-friendly. Changing vendors might be necessary if this is the case. Prohibit your kitchen staff from running to the local grocery store to purchase – for shorts, outs, or small quantities. Mistakes could easily be made when pressed for time.
  2. Storage, preparation supplies and equipment
    1. Label equipment that is to be used solely for allergen-free ingredients. This includes shelving, storage containers, reach-in refrigerators, mixing bowls, cutting boards, utensils, measuring cups, thermometers, etc.
    2. Implement guidelines for kitchen staff to have clean aprons, uniforms and gloves when handling allergen-free foods. It should be required to have them change into clean chef coats, aprons, hats, during prepping of allergen-free foods.
  3. Reduce the Risk
    1. Allergen and Gluten-Free ingredients should be stored in an Allergen-Free assigned area or space in clearly labeled containers that are easy to spot on order to prevent mistakes. All allergen-free ingredients should be stored in tight seal containers to prevent cross contact.
    2. Shared workspace and cooking tools should not be used but if that is not possible, these must be thoroughly cleaned and sanitized using commercial cleaning products and commercial dishwashing systems. A simple wipe down or rinse won’t do.
  4. Label
    1. Just as products you purchase from your suppliers must include labels that identify the common eight allergens, it’s just as important to identify food storage containers of prepared foods that are to remain Allergen-Free.
  5. Menu Listings
    1. Be as clear as possible when listing ingredients in your menu to help customers make informed choices and abstain from ordering foods containing allergens:
      1. Rice noodles stir fried in black soy sauce
      2. Lobster Bisque
      3. Noodles with Peanut Sauce

Food allergies will continue to be a topic of discussion and could potentially lead to other states requiring food training on food allergens. Consumers are demanding safe dining choices away from home and while there are many factors that could make this a challenge, Cambro wants to help make this process as safe and seamless as possible.


Foodservice operators can minimize food allergy risks by incorporating Allergen Management through personalization and color coding. Cambro offers personalization and/or color coding on various products for storage and preparation so that you and your staff can easily identify ingredients free of the Dangerous Eight and other allergens.

Cambro’s NEW Allergen-Free Products help operators:Allergen 6SFSCW Flour - Cambro Blog

  • Allergen Management labels help to minimize risk by identifying ingredients and foods that are free of specified allergens.
  • Clearly identify Allergen‑Free storage containers stored in dry storage and coolers.
  • Meet your customers’ needs, gain more loyal customers, and improve brand reputation by incorporating allergen-free options into your menu.

Visit for more on our Allergen-free products and stay tuned for more information and tips!

Cambro Allegen Free Products

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