When a guest asks if there are any tree nuts in a recipe, a serious food safety red flag should go up.
According to Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE), an organization that works on behalf of the 15 million Americans with food allergies, tree nut allergy is one of the most common food allergies in children and adults. Tree nuts (almonds, cashews, Brazil nuts, walnuts, etc.) can cause a severe, potentially fatal, allergic reaction called anaphylaxis.
Tree nut proteins may be found in cereals, crackers, cookies, candy, chocolates, energy bars, flavored coffee, frozen desserts, marinades, barbeque sauces and some cold cuts, such as mortadella. Even some alcoholic beverages may contain nut flavoring. Since these beverages are not currently regulated by FALCPA, operators may need to call the manufacturer to determine the safety of ingredients such as natural flavoring.
So, when the tree nut question is asked, is your staff prepared to answer correctly?
For many operators, the answer tends to come from one of the following resources:
- A paper-based nutritional rolodex or binder located somewhere in the restaurant
- A manual search of the ingredient packaging
- A call to corporate support for details
The difficulty, of course, is that there's an avalanche of information for operators to keep track of, keep up to date and distribute to every restaurant location. Because food safety and nutritional information has to be updated whenever suppliers, ingredients, or recipes change, the challenge is immense and ongoing.
Many operators tend to rely on some form of paper-based system, where nutritional sheets or cards are distributed to the stores as needed. That leaves serious questions to be answered: What happens to the sheets or cards when they get to the store? Are they filed correctly in the binder or rolodex? How is old information identified and replaced with new? Is the manager ensuring the staff understands the importance of this information?
Recipe information solved…
An elegant solution to the problem of managing recipe information is to store it in a central location and make it available to your restaurants online. A back office solution makes this even easier, as its integrated with the USDA nutritional database and can accept information from third party companies who will test and log recipe information for you. With recipes nicely stored in the back office system, it's a snap for your staff to call up the latest nutritional information for any menu item.
Better tracking makes it easy to comply with regulations
As federal laws are introduced to menu labeling and the availability of nutritional information for consumers, many operators are going to find that the tools they have are barely adequate to meet the requirements. Having a back office solution to help manage and maintain nutritional and allergen information is not only easier than managing it manually, it also offers the peace of mind that comes from knowing that all your operators can confidently answer any question a guest may have about the menu.
Top ways a restaurant back office system can aid with food safety:
- Nutritional Calculator – As culinary teams build and alter recipes, they can monitor the nutritional attributes associated with each menu item including calories, total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium, carbohydrates and proteins.
- Allergen Data – Ensure the safety of your customers by centrally monitoring allergen data for each recipe including dairy, egg, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, wheat, soy and more.
- Comply with Menu Labeling Laws – Meet the regulatory requirements of local and federal menu labeling laws by centrally managing and displaying nutritional and caloric attributes for each menu item.
To learn more about how back office systems can improve your restaurant enterprise, visit CrunchTime here.
This post is sponsored by CrunchTime! Information Systems