Working with universities to raise awareness of allergens

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I have been working with the fantastic catering team at the University of Wolverhampton to increase their awareness of allergens and to ensure that the students attending this university will be looked after whilst living away from home.

It has been recognised that university students with food allergies are a vulnerable group. Living away from home, often for the first time everything will be unfamiliar to them. Settling into new accommodation with new friends is difficult enough but suffering with a potentially life-threatening food allergy is a challenge. Peer pressure, not wanting to feel different, Mum’s not cooking and shopping for the student anymore and trying new food and drink are all adding to the problem.

Luckily catering departments at Universities are very aware of the problems and are providing safe food for their students.

The University of Wolverhampton catering team led by the commercial service manager Amanda Shipley and her managers David Robinson and Stuart Rutty have recognised that their students with allergies deserve a consistently good food offer which is safe for them to eat. They had an in-depth rigorous audit to check their Allergen Management policies and procedures and were successful in achieving Allergen Accreditation status which is valid for 3 years.

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David Robinson, the catering manager led his team through the audit making changes to his allergen management procedures as required. David was very keen that the team understood the need to ensure that the procedures were understood and the reasons behind them.

I was invited to return to Wolverhampton for the first of three Allergen Awareness Workshops. I present these in a relaxed group of team members with a mix of presentation, video clips and interactive activities. The group found it very interesting and learnt new facts .

I asked the group when we had finished to write down 3 things they had learnt from the session and 3 things they were going to do differently.

I was really pleased with the responses as clearly the groups had found the information interesting and they were going to put into practice some of the advice I had given.

What’s in the pots?

When the 1st day of workshops had finished I was delighted to receive great feedback from David:

“Really great day today, scary knowing that the actions we take can potentially cause loss of life; all food handlers must do this course. Jacqui is really good at putting across this point”

Other members of the group had told me that they were now going to take some of the lesser known allergens seriously as they hadn’t realised that they could also result in Anaphylaxis.

Food allergies, as we know, are on the increase and schools are reporting more complex multi -allergen-free diets in children.

If you have read this blog and are interested in the workshops or you want more information on the Allergen Accreditation scheme then please visit my website for more information . The workshops can be tailored for any audience .

“The more we learn, the better we cater”

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