A free online food allergy training program for cooks and chefs

News, Success Stories, Health

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Lanham Media is very proud to have recently worked with the National Allergy Strategy to launch the first free national food allergy e-training program designed for cooks and chefs.

Developed in conjunction with chefs and cooks with experience in commercial kitchens, “All About Allergens: The next step for cooks and chefs” focuses on food preparation, handling and storage, and highlights the importance of effective communication between the kitchen and other staff and consumers with food allergy.

“Food allergy rates are continuing to rise in Australia, and we know that the majority of fatalities from food-induced anaphylaxis occur when people are eating out,” says Associate Professor Richard Loh, allergy specialist and co-chair of the National Allergy Strategy.

There are two versions of the new training program; one for general food services such as restaurants and cafes, and one for camp food services, such as school camps or sports camps. Free to access for all users and delivered in a convenient online format that can be completed at the user’s convenience, All About Allergens: The next step for cooks and chefs has been developed for anyone providing a food service.

Martin Latter, Group Director of Kitchens for AEG Ogden, who has managed some of Australia’s largest commercial kitchens and has even cooked for royalty, welcomed the new training program, saying, “It can be very difficult to manage all of the different dietary requests that come through a large kitchen, and often customers don’t have any concept of the type of pressure cooks and chefs are under and make requests at the last minute.

“Over my many years of working in large kitchens I’ve often seen little things happen that can put people with food allergies at serious risk, like not using the same utensils across different foods, or wearing gloves for hygiene purposes but not understanding the cross-contamination risk.”

Maria Said, CEO of co-chair of the National Allergy Strategy and CEO of Allergy and Anaphylaxis Australia, says “Hospital admissions for food-induced allergic reactions have increased fivefold over the past 20 years, and fatalities from food-induced anaphylaxis are increasing by about 7 per cent every year.”

“While we know that food allergen management in kitchens needs to improve, we’re certainly not wanting to point the finger at cooks and chefs. What we do want to do is encourage a sense of shared responsibility when it comes to preventing episodes of anaphylaxis and food-related allergic reactions. Customers with allergies are primarily responsible for their health needs and need to advise food service staff about their allergies, preferably in advance, and kitchen staff need to take their food allergy seriously and understand how to manage those requests.”

Jaclyn Jauhianan, a 24-year-old university student who is allergic to honey and at risk of anaphylaxis to tree nuts, is pleased to see more being done to educate those working in food service about food allergies, saying “I dream about the day when I can eat out with my family and friends without having to be on high alert about my allergies even after I disclose them. I know it is my responsibility to clearly communicate, but there definitely needs to be more awareness and education about managing food allergies in the food services industry.”

For further information go to www.foodallergytraining.org.au

“Lanham Media have been our media consultants for over five years. We have found all their staff to be easy to work with, professional and most importantly, effective in obtaining media coverage no matter how difficult the task. Even when it seemed like attracting media attention was unlikely, Lanham PR have always achieved great coverage for us across a number of different and challenging projects.”

Sandra Vale, Coordinator, National Allergy Strategy

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