Customer Experience Allergen Audits have launched! - 16/10/19  

If you’re a food allergy sufferer, the chances are that eating out can be a far from positive experience. Nearly half (47%) of 2,500 young allergy sufferers (who are at greatest risk of severe consequences from allergen ingestion) surveyed by the FSA last year said they had little or no confidence that food businesses can provide correct information about allergens in the food they serve. Six in ten said they had avoided eating out in the previous six months because of their condition. 
 
When eating out is a matter of life and death, allergy sufferers should be able to have complete faith in the information provided by staff about the food they serve. Launching today is a new tool to help food business operators monitor and improve the experience of customers with allergies. 
 
 
Developed in collaboration with food safety consultancy NT Assure, the Customer Experience Allergen Audit assesses how customers with allergies and dietary conditions are made to feel when eating out and how safe they believe they are when being guided by a brand’s information and staff. The audit helps food businesses evaluate and, where necessary, improve staff training, allergen labelling, communication and operational performance. It is designed to reduce risk, keep customers safe and improve their dining experience. 
 
Posing as allergy sufferers, or in some instances, actual sufferers, Serve Legal’s community of 2,750 18-25 year old auditors will present without notice as customers at restaurants and cafes, bars and pubs, supermarkets and food-to-go counters across the UK and Ireland. They will: 
 
Ask staff questions about food preparation, ingredients and cross-contamination. 
Order and eat a meal or food-to-go item. 
Observe hygiene ratings, the display of allergen information and table and seating cleaning practices. 
Submit a report on the customer experience throughout which will be shared with the client within 48 hours. 
 
Audits and trials are already underway with high street operators and retailers including Dunelm, Scotmid Co-operative and others. 
 
Adam Rees, 27, has a severe allergy to nuts and peanuts with anaphylaxis. We spoke to him about his experience of eating out. 
 
“Recent tragic cases have highlighted the challenges that people like me face. When eating out, I always ensure that the person taking my order is aware of my allergies. I have experienced some amazing restaurants and procedures, but the vast majority have a long way to go to fully embrace and embed a proper allergy procedure. Many establishments feel that a printed grid stating which allergens are in which foods is satisfactory. However, they are often out of date and list only what the meal is meant to contain rather than ancillary ingredients used in the preparation or cooking of the food.” 
“ 
My best food-service allergy experiences are where a staff member has made me feel at ease from the get-go. Serve Legal and NT Assure’s audit is a huge step in the right direction. If it helps move the food industry - whether small establishments or major players - forward, it will be worth every penny of investment to reduce the risk of other deaths. 
 
” 
To find out more about the Customer Experience Allergen Audit, contact: Jenni Garratt, Sales & Client Manager for Serve Legal on 07483002146 or by email to jennigarratt@servelegal.co.uk 
 
 
 
 
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