Dietary requirements

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If you are preparing or serving food, understanding people's individual dietary requirements is very important. If you are serving in a restaurant and someone says to you that they are diabetic, they have a gluten or a lactose intolerance, or they are allergic to certain types of foods like nuts, then this information is very important. You will need to find out actually what is in the food you serve. So if you are talking to customers, find out exactly what they have an allergy to and any special dietary requirements they have, then you can go back into the kitchen and find out more information. 

If you are preparing foods and are not sure about something, find out. Things like gluten or dairy can be in the strangest products, so have a good look at the ingredients, as it may well be that someone has a gluten intolerance. Something as basic as a bag of frozen chips, which you might think is free from gluten actually contains wheat. Some manufacturers add wheat to chips to make them more crispy.

Each person's dietary requirements will be individual to them and all may react differently. For example, if someone is a diabetic, they need to monitor their sugar intake to keep their blood sugar levels within a safe range, so they may need information on the sugar contents of foods.

It may be that someone is just counting calories and they want to know the calorie content of the food, so they can choose a low-calorie option.

Things like dairy and wheat can cause allergic reactions, from mild to very severe, which can cause a lot of pain and discomfort.

So understanding what people's dietary requirements are and taking them seriously is very important. You must ensure that what you serve is of the best possible quality and that both you and the customer know exactly what it contains.

Having a folder with all the dishes you serve and exactly what each item contains will help you plan, and the customer chooses, the dishes that they can safely eat.

In food preparation areas it can become very hectic and everyone is working very hard. Where you are preparing food for someone with an allergy, you need to ensure there is no cross-contamination, so keep work areas and equipment clean and make provision for a plan for special areas in the kitchen where you can prepare specific foods, this may be something as simple as a dedicated deep fat fryer.
If you are unsure then ask - never guess. If you need more information, confirm with the customer and make sure that they are happy with the foods that you're offering them.

When someone has a food allergy you must treat it seriously, double check the food you are serving and ensure it is completely free from allergens.