Less than half of hospitality employees are confident they are relaying the correct allergen information, according to new research.
A survey conducted by Access Hospitality found that almost three-quarters of hospitality employees rely on manual processes to handle allergens, with only 47% of those questioned reporting that they were confident that they, or a colleague, were communicating allergen information correctly.
Of the 121 employees quizzed, 48% were concerned about the way their business manages allergens, with most unease among those working for operators with one to five sites and 21-50 sites.
Most respondents (62%) said they relied on a piece of paper to relay allergen details, with only 14% employing a hand-held device. Some 8% said that they referred queries straight to the chef.
Access Hospitality managing director Henry Seddon said that working practices were coming under increased scrutiny.
He added: "It's surprising to see that such a high percentage of professionals working in the sector reported concerns about the practices that are taking place day after day. A fifth were not aware of the penalties for failing to give accurate information about allergens to customers and when they have so little confidence in allergen management processes and what they do share with customers, they are placed in a stressful position as well as, potentially, compromising the well-being of those customers.
"Having loose pieces of paper in circulation must leave staff open to mistakes and mis-communication when advising on allergens especially when information and updates are applied manually in such a high proportion of businesses."
The findings have been published in a white paper introduced by UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nichols.
She said: "Your customers, partners, and both local and national authorities, will expect you to keep customers safe in a world where more and more emphasis is being placed on cutting waste and promoting sustainability. At the same time, you will need to keep expenditure under control and make money. This is the best resource available to you, to ensure you stay at the cutting edge and continue to maximise your opportunities."
For practical allergen advice, The Caterer is holding an Allergen Summit on 12 May at the Soho hotel in London. The half-day conference will equip F&B, operations and marketing professionals with the knowledge and best practice to set a strategy that keeps your customers and staff safe and informed.