Will Natasha’s Law help pave the way for a restaurant revolution?
Could tighter rules on allergies and intolerances help bring your restaurant new business?
It’s no secret that food allergens have been a hot topic of recent, all brought around by some shockingly tragic events, which could have been prevented had allergy information been clearly and correctly shown.
Named after Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, the teenager who tragically died after eating an inadequately labelled Pret a Manger baguette in 2016, Natasha’s Law aims to tighten rules on pre-packaged food labels, to help the estimated 21 million people in the UK who suffer with food allergies (Allergy UK).
Although the new law doesn’t come into effect in the UK until 2021, it will mean that all incidents going forward will be met with much less tolerance and harsher penalties to avoid such incidents reoccurring.
In reality, the legacy of Natasha’s Law will not stop at pre-packaged foods, with a scrutinous eye being cast over all sectors of the food & beverage industry and a call for all establishments to be clearer with what allergens could affect the consumer.
It’s not only businesses that have become more nutrition and allergen savvy; it’s the consumers themselves. So if you haven’t got all of your restaurant’s allergen information up to date and available at a customers’ request, then this could be the time to get things ship shape and in in line to avoid any lost business, or worse.
With consumer trust already at a low, it’s time to let the customers know that you have not only their taste buds, but also, their health in mind.
It is for this reason that restaurants need to become more aware not only of allergies but how to deal with them. We don’t want to see restaurants completely losing ingredients from their menus, but some do in fear that just the presence of things like peanuts in the kitchens could diversely affect their customers.
Additionally, with a rise in conditions such as gluten intolerance, brought on by environmental and food changes through the generations, many restaurants have begun to cater for this in order to show that they are able to provide for those suffering with allergies, intolerances and conditions like Coeliac disease.
From a restaurant marketing point of view, this is something that is worth shouting about, as not only does this help build trust, but it can also showcase the great food that you can make and give added credibility to your entire menu. For example, restaurant chain Pho made 99% of their menu gluten free in order to cut out confusion within the waiting staff and kitchens, as well as reducing the overall risk of cross-contamination.
Your restaurant doesn’t necessarily need to cut out gluten from the current dishes, and although people with allergies don’t want to be treated differently, putting on a once or twice monthly gluten free night, cutting out the risk of contamination and inviting a new customer base to dine with you with complete reassurance could be an option to ensure that you do not miss out on certain markets. If your restaurant becomes acknowledged as a ‘free from’ hotspot, you could even feature on websites such as Forever Free From which showcase the best free from eateries across the UK!
At the end of the day, it’s not only down to the chef and what’s written on the menu, although listing allergens or pointing out where the diner can find a full list of allergens is a good move, the waiting staff also need training in what allergens are contained in which dishes and need to be knowledgeable, which will again reassure customers and give your restaurant added credibility.
Whatever approach you try, ensure that communication between your suppliers, your kitchen, and your waiting staff is effective in order to have complete confidence in your knowledge. Remember, those with food allergies can often be key decision makers in restaurant visits, so make sure you let them know via your website and social media that you can accommodate them!
Let us know how your restaurant caters for different allergies and intolerances in the comments below!