The Nuts (and Bolts) of Food Allergen Training

Summer holiday season is upon us (not that you’d know from looking out the rain splattered window of echo3 HQ today). For many of you, dreams of sunnier climes will soon become reality as you jet off on vacation. Once your flight has taken off, you may set your chair to recline, breath a sigh of relaxation and take a sip of your first holiday tipple. Chances are, however, you won’t be accompanying your cooling beverage with the traditional complimentary bag of nuts. That’s because many airlines have now banned nuts on board their aircraft.

The deadly consequences of food intolerance, and nut allergies in particular, have been well documented in the media recently and the decision to ban nuts by some airlines follows the death of a 15 year old girl on a flight from the UK to France last year. The teenager fell ill on board after eating a baguette bought in Heathrow Airport. Tragically, despite receiving two EpiPen injections during the flight, she died after being taken to hospital in Nice.

Allergic reactions to food can happen anywhere and the quicker a victim receives aid the greater the likelihood of a positive outcome. Unfortunately, on an airplane swift medical response is not possible.

Easyjet has banned the sale of all nuts on their flights and will stop customers bringing their own on planes if there is a customer with a nut allergy on board. Airlines such as BA and Virgin have stopped selling nuts however some of their meals may still contain traces of nuts. A number of other airline companies state that they will make a flight nut-free if given enough advance notice of any passenger with a nut allergy.

This news has been well received by many passengers, with some social media users noting how much less stressful their flights will now be.

In addition to basic customer safety, allergen training is a legal requirement for any food business to ensure compliance with the EU Food Information for Consumers Regulation 1169/2011 . Food handlers – whether in food production, processing, packaging, distribution, food retail or catering – must understand safe procedures for effective food preparation, storage and cleaning.

Food allergen training should provide a general understanding of allergies and how they effect people. Knowledge of the legal requirements is important and, of course, clarity on how to avoid cross contamination. Depending on the nature of your business, you may choose to provide this training in-house however, increasingly, businesses are turning to online training as both a cost and time effective way to deliver allergen training. An online course is also an effective method of evidencing that training has taken place.

At echo3eduation we are happy to discuss your allergen training requirements and recommend our CPD-accredited Food Allergen Awareness course as the ideal starting point to ensuring your staff are allergen aware. More than simply being compliant with the law, food allergen aware employees save lives.

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