Event & Meeting Professionals: Accommodating People with Food Allergies

Food allergy planning for events

Case Study… Think About It!

Imagine this: You are planning an evening gala at a hotel. You selected a location that has an impeccable reputation for service and accommodating people’s every need. You took extra care in your selection because you needed to accommodate 10 attendees with special dietary needs – several of them were high profile clients. The chef at this hotel was world renowned and was readily available to discuss and plan for service. Prior to the event you met with the chef to explain the menu and address the concerns of several key meals. It was explained that one of the guests was
highly allergic to egg and dairy. The chef said he would personally oversee the egg- and dairy-free meal. As stated, the chef personally cooked and delivered the egg- and dairy-free meal. The chef assured the guest that the meal was allergy free and had met her egg- and dairy-free requirements. The guest thanked the chef profusely and never doubted for a second that there would be a problem with it.

The guest took several bites of the meal and started to have an allergic reaction. Within minutes the guest was experiencing anaphylactic shock – her throat was closing and she was having difficulty breathing. Fortunately, someone knew about her allergies and Epi-pen and was able to obtain it and administer a shot. Unfortunately, she had left her Epi-pen in her coat at the coat check, which wasted valuable time nearly resulting in her death. The woman survived, but was taken to an area hospital for further treatment and observation. The quick action of a friend and the organized effort by staff to call EMS prevented a tragic incident from occurring. It was later determined that the chef had used a utensil that had trace elements of egg from another dish.Some things to consider:

  • Did the chef commit to something he did not fully understand? What should the chef have done differently?
  • Are most chefs and cooks fully aware of the sensitivities allergic people have to food? What can be done to change this?
  • How do you prevent this from happening? What type of questions should you ask?
  • What kind of policies and procedures should have been in place to accommodate guests with food allergy concerns?
  • Should you train staff to respond to allergic reactions? How do you train them?
  • Can you deny a person service based on food allergies? Why or why not?
  • What should the allergic person have done differently?
  • Did the chef open himself and the location up to liability as a result of his actions? Why or why not?

Saving Money When it Comes to Safety Inspections May Not Be So Penny-wise

Cost cutting safety

There are numerous scenarios in which short-sighted decisions, motivated by the desire to cut costs, end up imposing much higher costs at a later date. I am sure that your business or a business you were associated with was in need of a safety evaluation and it does not get done because it “isn’t in the budget.”

The desire to wish risk away is obviously enticing and cost effective; however, risking uncertain and significantly larger loss is a poor business practice. There are many organizations that wish they could recapture the costs of some of the larger losses they have incurred – it would do wonders to the bottom line. Unfortunately, the loss is gone forever and typically negatively impacts the bottom line and well-being of a company.

It is important to recognize this practice and address it by incorporating sound business judgment when it comes to assessing and addressing risk. The increasingly competitive and international presence of industry warrants swift and decisive action regarding this topic. It could mean the difference between profit and loss…

Do Accidents Just Happen?

stop accidents

Accidents just happen, or do they? An accident, according to Webster’s Dictionary, states that an unforeseen, unplanned event or circumstance occurs and that this event transpires from a lack of intention or necessity. The statement that accidents just happen is an improper designation. A better description would state that accidents are caused. Traditionally, there are multiple contributing factors to an accident. The majority of which are preventable.

An example of this could be related to a slip and fall.

If we break down a common slip and fall into segments we can better understand this principle. A floor in a kitchen has grease spilled on it from a fryer. The spill is neglected due to a deadline that needs to be met for a function. Meanwhile, an assistant in the washroom is cleaning a group of sheet trays needed to complete deserts for this event. The assistant was wearing a pair of worn out tennis shoes with balding soles. The kitchen chef calls for the trays and the assistant obliges by making his way to the prep area. Unfortunately, the assistant is unaware of the grease spill and cannot see in front of the trays. The assistant steps in the grease with his balding shoes and obstructed view and ultimately slips and falls. As stated, a chain of events has occurred, a chain that could be broken with a better understanding of why accidents don’t just happen but are caused.

If we can remove just one of the hazards mentioned above we can ultimately alter the outcome of an unforeseen, unplanned event or circumstance.

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