Module 5: How to provide information

So how exactly can you as an individual or business provide the relevant information regarding allergens in your food or products?

  • Menu – dish description
  • Chalkboard
  • Sign post for customers to read the information


On the menu it can clearly state “For special dietary requirements or allergy information, please speak with our Bistro Manager before ordering”

This then gives the customer the option to speak with and confirm any allergens within the food and therefore make an informed decision as to whether a meal is suitable for them.

Notice – self service

A notice can be displayed clearly either on a chalkboard or in plain view stating something like “Food allergy advice. We welcome enquiries from our guests who wish to know whether any dish contains a particular ingredient. Please ask a member of staff and we will be happy to help”

 What Can Go Wrong?

  • Staff don’t ask – have you any special dietary requirements
  • Staff don’t check with the Chef if a dish contains a particular ingredient.
  • Supplier Substitution
  • Non-nominated suppliers used for produce
  • Staff don’t serve the ‘allergen free’ dish to the correct customer.
  • Staff take a desert order with no account made of allergy.
  • Agency staff are used and not trained on various allergies found in the menu
  • Training and supervision is not conducted resulting in a lack of knowledge
  • Remember allergies applies to beverages also!!

Taking a Booking


When taking a booking via telephone or at reception think about the following:

  • Ask “Do you have any special dietary requirements?”
  • If using a reservation or point of sale software such as Quadranet – enter the allergen detail in ‘customer message’
  • Staff briefing – Give all staff a comprehensive briefing before service.

Meetings & Events

  • Ask and confirm the final details and menu choice 7 days prior to event
  • ensure the Standard Enquiry form includes ‘Have any special dietary requirements’
  • If there are any special dietary requirements, tell the Chef
  • Staff briefing – again give all staff a comprehensive briefing before service

The Golden Rules of Service

Touch points:

  • always acknowledge the guest on arrival
  • Waiting staff acknowledge the guest at the table.
  • Record on the ‘check’ the food(s) anything that the customer is allergic to.
  • Record the location of the customer on the table
  • Inform Bistro Manager and ask them to check the order details
  • if using XN/Micros tills then record the detail of the Allergy in the notes section.
  • Bistro Manager to check with the Chef the order is fully understood
  • Check with the Chef the correct order is collected from the service area.
  • Bistro Manager to oversee the service goes to the correct customer

Tools that can help

A simple layout on an order pad can help with ensuring that the relevant details are included:

pad details

Requirement for non-prepacked and prepacked for direct sale foods

Information on allergenic ingredients must be either

  • written up front (for example on a menu or menu board) without the customer having to ask for information
  • sign-posted to where written information can be found or obtained
  • sign-posted to say that oral information can be obtained from a member of staff
  • if information on allergenic ingredients is provided orally, this must be consistent and verifiable (i.e. a business must have processes in place to capture information from recipes or ingredients lists from products bought in, and make this available to staff)

This section is relevant for businesses that have direct interaction with their customers, such as restaurants, sandwich shops and bakers.

It is important that customers with food allergies or intolerances are able to make informed choices when choosing products. All staff serving customers should be made aware of the potential risks to customers’ health if they advise them incorrectly. A process must be in place to ensure that allergen information can be easily obtained and is accurate and consistent.

Customers are strongly advised to speak to staff regarding their allergy requirements. If a member of staff is unsure of the answer to a customer’s question, they must ask somebody who knows.

You might find it useful to show these animations to the food businesses in your area. Or you could download this booklet or poster. The booklet is aimed at anyone who works in a café or restaurant selling unpackaged foods. The poster is a visual tool aimed at people who work in these businesses but do not have English as a first language, or those who have language difficulties.

‘Gluten-free’ or ‘very low gluten’ claims

About 1% of people in the UK are intolerant to gluten – this condition is also known as coeliac disease. People with coeliac disease need to avoid foods that contain gluten to prevent potentially serious health effects. This means labelling claims about gluten in foods are very important. Foods that contain gluten include wheat, rye and barley.

European legislation has set levels of gluten for foods that claim to be either ‘gluten-free’ or ‘very low gluten’. These levels are:

  • ‘gluten-free’ – 20 parts or less of gluten per million.
  • ‘very low gluten’ – 100 parts or less of gluten per million. However, only foods with cereal ingredients that have been specially processed to remove the gluten may make a ‘very low gluten’ claim.

These regulations apply to all foods – pre-packed or sold loose, such as in health food stores or in catering establishments.

Caterers can only use the phrase ‘gluten-free’ if they can demonstrate that, when tested, their product is 20 parts or less of gluten per million. They will also be required to demonstrate that any products claiming to be ‘very low gluten’ also comply to the legislation.

Caterers producing foods with no deliberate gluten containing ingredients, but due to the high risk of gluten cross-contamination, will be unable to label foods as ‘gluten-free’ or ‘very low gluten’. Instead, if steps have been taken to control gluten cross-contamination, caterers will be able to indicate which foods do not contain gluten containing ingredients. This allows people with coeliac disease to make choices about the food they eat based on their individual levels of sensitivity.