Making a BIG difference in the lives of food allergy sufferers

September 20, 2013 in Best of Both, food, safety, staying healthy by MyBestofBothWorlds

Making a BIG difference in the lives of food allergy sufferers. That’s what this blog post is all about.  Getting the word out and paying it forward.

Luckily no one in my immediate family suffers from food allergies, however I have quite a few friends that have dietary restrictions including Gluten, as well as several friends in various circles whose children have moderate to severe food allergies.  I watched many of my friends post on their Facebook pages just how daunting the first days of school are, or how careful they need to be at birthday parties or how difficult it is to go out to eat like everyone else. People with food allergies face the day-to-day fear that they may accidentally eat a food and have an anaphylactic reaction potentially facing a life-threatening,  According to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases recent studies have found that almost 1 in 20 young children under the age of 5 years and almost 1 in 25 adults are allergic to at least one food.  That’s approximately 15 million people.

My brother, Michael Kennedy is the Director of Food Operations at the South Point Hotel Casino & Spa.

Michael Kennedy

Yep good looks run in the family

 

During a recent visit he told me about how his hotel is educating his food and beverage staff to become certified in order to safely serve food to those with food allergies.  He shared the story of a 16-year-old figure skater Kendall Hollinger who is allergic to more than 95% of foods.  Having heard about South Point’s program, she and her family were invited to dine with them. It was the first time in more than a decade that she and her family were able to dine outside of the safety of their home. My brother boasted that his hotel will be hosting more than 500 guests at South Point Hotel during the 2013 Food Allergen Bloggers Conference event and Food Allergy Research and Education Walk in November.  I have to say that is quite a feat!  Boy will they be busy in those kitchens!

If you are interested in attending the conference you have until  OCTOBER 3, 2013 to get the conference discounted room rates.  All requests for rooms at the convention group rate must be received no later than October 3, 2013.   Guests may also call The South Point Hotel Reservations Department directly 866-791-7626 (toll free) In order to obtain your special group rate, the guests need to identify themselves as being with Food Allergy Blogger Conference or group code:  FOO1102.

According to Michael, his entire culinary staff, including servers, managers, hosts, dish washers, chefs, food preps and more is required to attend their Allergen Training program and Steward Workplace Safety Awareness program every year. In addition, they mandate that all chefs, managers and superiors be Servsafe Certification Training.

ServSafe Allergen Course which is specifically on allergies, how to handle them, understand them and how not to be scared of them. We actually found that this is an untapped niche. We handle them well so this community of allergen families keeps spreading the word and coming back. This effort is being led in their kitchen by Assistant Executive Chef and Food Safety Manager, Keith Norman.

 

Chef Keith Norman

Chef Keith Norman

Chef Norman has over 20 years of culinary experience and has made it his personal mission to ensure the safety of his patrons. His CV includes certifications from the National Environmental Healthy Association, Nevada Restaurant Association, Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points and Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

How is this all done you may ask as I did.  Michael explained that all of their restaurants have purple kits to be used when a guest has been identified in the kitchen via a specially generated ticket from their point of sales system.

Allergy Ticket SOP (1)

  This purple kit is a special allergen kit which the food staff members can easily identify.  The kit contains all the items necessary to prepare foods safely (cutting boards, knives, measuring cups, utensils etc).

Allergen Kit Photo!!!!!!!!

Having the distinguishable purple color avoids any mixing or cross contamination.  After its use, it is throughly cleaned and ready for the next guest’s request.

Here’s to hoping that more restaurants take food allergies as serious as my brother’s place does and to raise awareness about how important this topic is for so many people.  Food allergy sufferers should be able to eat out in safety and have the same comfort level as everyone else.  It is possible!

 

 

Disclosure:  This is NOT a sponsored post.  My Best of Both Worlds did NOT receive any form of compensation in exchange for this publication.  I just know as a Mom that many of my friends have to maintain a constant vigilance for their children’s safety-so I wanted to help promote awareness of this important topic.  A special thanks goes out to my brother Michael Kennedy, Chef Keith Norman and the South Point Casino for sharing their practices.