The rise of food allergies and intolerances in the recent years have influenced F&B establishments to take a proactive step towards catering for the health-conscious diner. Here’s how to go about doing so.
While the term “vegetarian” is considered to be quite general, it is typically assumed that vegetarians abstain from meat, fish, and poultry. Several other sects that fall under this category – such as lacto-vegetarian and lacto-ovo vegetarian – may abstain from eggs and dairy products as well. Veganism is another sect that practices a strict plant-based diet.
One of the more common types of food intolerances today is gluten. It is essentially a protein frequently present in wheat and grains such as durum, semolina, barley, and rye. Customers adhering to this diet may find it difficult to find suitable establishments as most of the food staples from pasta to bread contain this particular compound.
Did you know? Rice and potatoes are naturally gluten-free.
Be it as an active step towards a healthier diet or the result of an intolerance or allergy, going dairy-free requires staunch discipline on the consumer’s part and a cautious eye. It involves avoiding products containing cow’s milk, such as pastries and ice cream, or any dish made with butter, cream, or cheese.
Particularly useful for diabetics, a low or sugar-free diet involves abstaining from refined sugar and sweeteners. While the usage of simple sugars and carbohydrates is unavoidable for most kitchens, train your staff to recommend suitable alternative dishes for customers on this particular diet. Most meat, seafood and vegetables are good to go, while fruits are to be limited.
It is crucial to first gain a thorough understanding of the range of dietary restrictions and how to cater to customers with these special preferences. Review your menu to gain a deeper understanding of how your offerings match up to the current customer base you’re catering to. You might be surprised with the number of offerings that are already in line with certain diets. Highlight these menu items with common dietary requirement icons for easy viewing on the customer’s part.
There is also the option of introducing an ingredient substitution method that replaces allergens with allergen-free ingredients. For example, a customer with a dairy intolerance would opt to leave out cheese, or a customer with a shellfish allergy would want to swap shrimp with chicken.
One important factor to consider especially if you’re catering to a variety of dietary requirements is cross-contamination. Food allergies can easily be triggered even if the dish is exposed to a specific allergen in minimal amounts. For instance, the usage of utensils should always be kept separately and to specific cooking stations.