How a Food Allergy Notice Can Help Your Restaurant Attract More Business (+ Printable Food Allergen Templates)

Food allergy notice
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Most restaurant owners and chefs go to great lengths to ensure that customers feel welcome and safe when dining at their establishment.

This includes publicizing the potential food allergens that recipes call for, both online and at the premises by visibly featuring food allergen notices.

In this article we explain how to inform customers about food allergens, how to write a food allergy notice and why an open welcoming communication about food allergies is good for business.

Download Food Allergen Notice Templates

Download our 25 different food allergen notice templates, as well as our allergen menu template. All 14 common food allergens (and groupings) are included so you can easily print out the ones that you need and put them up in your restaurant.

With around 2% of the global population affected by various food allergies, those restaurants that go above and beyond when it comes to allergen management and communication are more likely to attract this particular market segment.

Still, allergy-related miscommunication does happen, and food allergen management in some restaurants isn’t at a high level it should be in this day and age.

Take this recent example, where a London-based restaurant informed a customer that they would need to sign a food allergen waiver form upon arrival, acknowledging that they’re happy to eat there even though the kitchen cannot guarantee a nut-free meal due to the possibility of cross-contamination.

Food waiver

Needless to say, this restaurant lost that customer’s business, and it also earned a lot of bad press that resulted in local allergy sufferers, and their friends and family, giving them a wide berth.

The most basic thing that you can do to avoid a similar situation is to use clear and precisely worded food allergy statements and notices.

Feature these in visible places where customers with allergies can see them before making a reservation or ordering – on the chalkboard in front of your restaurant, your front door, the menus, and the reservation page of your website.

Nine times out of ten, when a customer sees a food allergy notice, they will contact you to inquire about their options. It takes your kitchen staff 15 minutes to come up with possible recipe tweaks, but you end up with a grateful customer and a reputation of being a safe space for people with food allergies.

It’s a win-win for everyone involved.

A Food Allergen Waiver - A Big No-No

The example we mentioned above, where a customer was asked to sign a food allergen waiver because the restaurant couldn’t guarantee a nut-free meal for them, only looks like a good way for a restaurant to avoid responsibility.

In reality, this does nothing to minimize a restaurant’s obligations when it comes to declaring food allergens.

According to the UK’s Food Standards Agency’s (FSA) Keith Millar:

All food businesses have a legal obligation to provide safe food for their customers. They should also let their customers know when the risk of cross-contamination is real and unavoidable.

Keith Millar - Food Standards Agency

Of course, there will be times when you will not be able to guarantee a safe meal to a customer, despite your best efforts.

The only time you’re encouraged to turn away paying customers because of their food allergies is when they are allergic to several of the ingredients that you use extensively across all your menu items . 

When that happens, don’t ask them to sign a food waiver so you can put their life at risk without being held accountable. 

Send them to a friendly competitor you know can accommodate their specific dietary requirements, and make sure to phone ahead so that your competitor knows to repay the favor in the future.

What is a Food Allergen Statement & How to Write One

A food allergen notice (alternatively called a food allergy statement in the US) is a written acknowledgement of potential allergens that are used in a restaurant’s kitchen.

Usually, this statement will list one or more food allergens, as well as instruct customers on how to ask for more information about those dishes that might contain them. 

In most cases, they will be advised to talk to their server, visit the restaurant’s allergens page online, or ask for an informational booklet.

Here’s an example of typical wording on food allergen notices:

  • Food allergy notice.

    Food prepared in our restaurant may contain the following ingredients: milk, eggs, wheat, peanuts, and tree nuts.

    If you have a food allergy, please notify your server. Thank you.

In the EU and the UK, all food businesses are obligated by law to display these food allergen notices visibly on the premises. Their other obligations regarding allergens include:

  • Prepacked foods – all prepacked foods (such as sandwiches and salads) need to have an ingredients list. Allergens need to be emphasized when they appear on the list.
  • Detailed food allergen information – for every item on the menu, a full list of potentially allergenic ingredients must be made available. This information can be on the menu, in an information pack, or on a chalkboard.
  • Buffet items need to be labelled separately – if you’re serving food buffet-style, you’re required to disclose allergens for each dish separately (not for the buffet as a whole).

Of course, we recommend going that extra mile for your allergic customers, and making them feel truly welcome and appreciated in your restaurant.

You can do this by instructing your servers to ask about potential food allergies as they take orders, or you can mark each item in the menu with clear symbols of food allergens that a specific dish might contain.

You can also tailor your food allergy notice in a way that encourages people with allergies to talk to you about their alternatives.

For example, your allergen notices could say:

  • Food allergy notice.

    If you let us know about your food allergy during booking, we can offer several delicious and safe alternatives to our popular dishes.

    Thank you.

With this, you’ve communicated that yes – some of your dishes do contain common food allergens. But, you’ve also made it clear that you’re willing to work with customers so that they can enjoy a safe meal at your restaurant.

In a world in which allergy sufferers often feel like a burden for even mentioning their allergies – and choose not to eat out because of that – this kind of open and welcoming communication is a breath of fresh air.

You’ll end up standing head and shoulders above your competitors just by providing a safe space for allergic people to speak up about their food concerns.

With a bit of luck, your restaurant might become their and their family’s number one pick whenever they decide to treat themselves to a professionally prepared meal (and there are a lot of people in that situation).

In the end, whatever the route you take to inform customers of potential allergens in your restaurant, make sure that the information is visible, easily accessible, and legible.

Download Food Allergen Notice Templates

Download our 25 different food allergen notice templates, as well as our allergen menu template. All 14 common food allergens (and groupings) are included so you can easily print out the ones that you need and put them up in your restaurant.

Never Miss an Allergen Information Update with Apicbase

Visibly displayed food allergen notices are a simple, but often overlooked tool of a restaurant’s food allergen communication kit.

They can help you build a stronger relationship with food allergy sufferers – a valuable market segment that is currently underappreciated and overlooked.

But, these allergy statements are just the first step in the right direction.

To rein in allergy incidents in your restaurant, you need to make sure that your allergen policies are well-thought-out and that your kitchen staff and servers all have immediate access to up to date allergen information.

Restaurant allergen notice always up to date via QR code on menu Apicbase helps you with that. It clearly marks all potential allergens in every one of your recipes and menus.

When you change a recipe or ingredient the entire system and all allergen reports are updated automatically and immediately.

Additionally, our restaurant management software packs a lot of other solutions that make ordering, invoicing, and inventory management a lot easier and cheaper.

Schedule Your Apicbase Demo Today

Learn how allergen checks and nutritional value reports are taken care of, so you can focus 100% on food quality.

Don’t forget to download our food allergy notice templates as well. They cover all major food allergens (and common allergen groupings), and we included a food allergen menu template.

All you have to do is print them out – we recommend doing so in various sizes and on self-stick paper so you can easily put them on window panes and menus.

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Geert Merckaert

Geert Merckaert

I am an ex-chef and I write about kitchen management best practices. I love running, hiking, reading and writing.