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What to do if your Customer has an Allergic Reaction: Part 4

The best laid plans…you’ve clearly communicated and displayed all of your allergen information across your menus and around your business, you’ve followed guidance and implemented procedures in your kitchen to avoid cross-contamination, you’ve briefed your staff thoroughly… and then the worst happens and someone suffers an allergic reaction to one of your dishes.

Sometimes no matter how well prepared we are an accident might happen. It might not even be any fault on your business, and that the customer has misunderstood or miscommunicated something.

What can you do? You can be prepared for the worst and know the best way to deal with it.

Would you and your staff know what to do and what steps to take should a customer suffer an allergic reaction? If not, don't worry, we’re here to help. In this special series we speak to a number of foodservice and allergy experts about how Caterers can best respond and react to an allergic reaction in their business.

To read the full "What to do if your customer has an allergic reaction" guide, click here.

We’ve had a great lineup so far” Food Allergy Aware’s Caroline Benjamin penned Part 1, The Reluctant Allergy Expert Ruth Holyord gave us Part 2 and last time The Allergy Table blogger Lindiwe Lewis was behind Part 3.

Now, it’s time to meet our fourth and latest contributor…

ARK Solutions

With over 40 years experience in the pharmaceutical sector, ARK Solutions provide life-saving support to schools, and offer a range of comprehensive, affordable treatment kits to those who may be at risk of anaphylaxis or asthma attacks. ARK Kits have been developed in partnership with Allergy UK and Arcadia Medical.

Here's ARKs advice...

The Overview

“Anaphylaxis-type reactions to food are very rare within the school environment - however, severe reactions from food do happen. Schools have a duty to be able to care for pupils with allergies and provide emergency care for a child having anaphylaxis.

Schools should have set protocols in place for their allergic children which should include a written Allergy Action Plan (for each child) - available as a free download from the BSACI and contain all the steps and procedures to follow in the event of anaphylaxis. They also contain important information about the child’s allergies and what medication they are currently taking, forming the basis of how the child is cared for at school regarding his or her allergy. A child’s Allergy Action Plan should be updated and reviewed regularly in conjunction with regular communication with the school.”

Important food hall and classroom procedures

“The risk of coming into contact with a food allergen will always be present on the school’s premises, but this will clearly be at its greatest in areas where food is consumed such as a food hall. Due to the current COVID-19 social distancing measures this may well now include the classroom. The rules and procedures that apply to the food hall will now apply to the classroom which would include but not limited to:

  • Prepare food separately for children with a food allergy, and clean cooking equipment and utensils thoroughly.
  • Educate children on the dangers and symptoms of severe allergies.
  • Ensure all staff know which children suffer with severe allergies and how to administer AAI’s correctly.
  • Clean all surfaces regularly.
  • Discourage the sharing of food between children.
  • Promote good hand washing before and after meals.

If anaphylaxis occurs

“In the event of anaphylaxis, as mentioned in the BSACI action plan, you should:

  • Lie the child flat with legs raised or sat down comfortably and immediately dial 999 stating that the child is having an anaphylaxis allergic reaction.
  • Administer spare autoinjectors before the child's own autoinjector into the mid outer thigh.
  • Commence CPR if there are no signs of life.
  • Stay with the child until the ambulance arrives, keep them lying down.
  • Phone the child's parents or emergency contact.

Recent legislation regarding anaphylaxis in schools

“A relatively recent change in legislation (2017) now permits schools to purchase ‘spare’ AAI(s), without a prescription, for use on children that have been diagnosed of being at risk of anaphylaxis or have been prescribed an AAI(s). The “spare” AAI can be used if the child’s own prescribed AAI(s) are not immediately available (for example, because they are broken, out-of-date, have misfired or been wrongly administered). Written parental consent and medical authorisation must be obtained for the schools “spare” AAI to be used on a child. Schools can purchase spare adrenaline auto-injectors from a pharmacy. Alternatively, at ARK we have developed anaphylaxis emergency kits which contain 2 x adrenaline auto-injectors, additional medication (salbutamol inhaler and spacer device) and supporting information for the emergency treatment of anaphylaxis in schools. ARK kits are portable and can also be wall mounted in high-risk areas such as food halls. Additional supporting information and educational materials for schools’ parents and children can also be found on our website.”

How Erudus can help you manage Allergens

These tips from figures from across foodservice is vital and actionable should this ever happen to one of your customers and here at Erudus we offer a number of tools and solutions for caterers that help you understand find answers and understand your products and what they contain so you can be clear on allergens and give your customers the answers they need, whenever you need them.

Discover how Erudus can help you keep your customers safe, here.