The challenge of food service allergen management

An established high street food service chain where food is prepared on site in busy kitchen areas wanted to undertake a review of allergen management practices across their stores. Here's how we helped.



The challenge


The business needed an independent view of whether management of allergens within the stores and kitchen areas was consistent between different stores and reflected best practice, and whether areas of risk existed that required improvements. The client also needed guidance on how to effectively communicate potential risks to the customer when cross-contamination could not be avoided.

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RSSL consultants used their extensive experience in the field to develop a plan for the assessment which would ensure a representative picture was captured across the different types of store within the chain.


During the store visits they conducted a full review of the way allergens were managed within each, including storage, labelling of ingredients, handling by operatives and cleaning. Front of house operations were observed to understand how staff interacted with customers with allergies, and a mystery shopper exercise was also carried out in a number of stores.


Using their knowledge of best practice for allergen management, the RSSL consultants were then able to provide the business with a comprehensive report, detailing all of the findings and recommended areas of improvement.


Expert advice


RSSL’s consultants provided the business with a number of clear areas where opportunity for improvement had been identified. RSSL supported the business by providing practical suggestions for how their recommendations could be implemented within the stores, recognising that any new measures had to be feasible for the stores to introduce.


Suggestions focussed on procedural changes as well as the communication of allergen information, both verbally by staff and in written form. The primary goal of the guidance provided by RSSL was to support the business in ensuring that accurate information was always provided to the customer and that best practices could be adopted in the food preparation areas.



The result


Despite the large size of the business, RSSL consultants were able to gain a representative understanding of practices relating to the management of allergens within the different store types and make evidence-based recommendations for change.


As a result of this work, the chain was able to implement recommended changes to procedures within the food preparation area and embed a robust process for staff to follow when serving customers with allergies. The business adapted the written information provided to customers to ensure the messaging was clear and accurate. These changes all allowed the business to achieve a greater level of confidence that customers with allergies could be catered for safely.

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