Management of allergens
We pride ourselves in our exceptional allergen management practices. A vast team effort is required, each unit with unique roles and responsibilities. This allows us to ensure ALL pupils can access safe food with confidence during the school day.
Training and Retraining ensures everyone is aware of individual responsibilities.
Level 3 Allergen Management in Catering is undertaken by ALL Catering Managers and cooks. It is delivered by our dietitian/registered tutor who is educated in Food Allergy at Masters level, and externally accredited.
A two hour In-house allergen course is undertaken every 2 years by all staff (including those Level 3 qualified), again, delivered by our dietitian.
Training includes testing abilities to determine allergens from food labels and the allergen matrix. It also covers practical responsibilities such as checking of ingredients delivered to ensure no unauthorised substitutions, practical steps to prevent cross contamination and catering for those on special menus. All staff complete a written test so both attendance and understanding is evidenced.
Medical Confirmation of Allergies
We do not cater for self-diagnosed allergies. We have a duty of care to our pupils not to exclude major food groups unnecessarily that could impact growth/development. Further, we want to know parents are accessing support from health professionals to meet any nutritional deficiencies due to exclusions.
We also need our cooks to be focussed 100% on those with allergies, not distracted or side lined to deal with pupils who are fussy eaters with likes/dislikes/preferences which unfortunately can on occasion be presented to us as “allergies”. Those with diagnosed eating disorders or Autism will always be offered reasonable adjustments on an individual basis.
With parents express permission, our dietitian can directly access confirmation of allergies from the relevant health professionals, (often the same day), ensuring no barriers to timely and safe catering. There is no need for GP appointments or charges for medical letters in this instance.
Appropriate signage is displayed at every service point in our dining halls instructing pupils to ask our staff about allergens before ordering food.
Risk assessing catering for pupils with allergies
Every pupil with an allergy or multiple allergies is managed by our dietitian. A conversation is had with parents and key details logged. Menus are written for these pupils for the cook to follow, along with a Confirmation Memo containing written instructions on safe catering.
Pupils are encouraged to begin taking on responsibility for food choices. They are growing up and being prepared for the real world. Writing menus for these pupils is impracticable due to multiple food combinations on offer (primaries have set menus). Pupils are encouraged to speak with the cook study the Allergen matrix together to ensure safe choices. In transition from primary, the dietitian and/or parents often assist with this first conversation/introduction.
All packaged grab and go items served in our Comps (over 100) have full PPDS labelling compliant with Natasha’s law. Previous experience in food labelling management allows our dietitian to write these from scratch and amend on the same day if ingredients or brands change.
Back Office Checks
We work closely with our suppliers and software provider to ensure our records are accurate and any changes updated and communicated to our cooks in real time.
Wider school environment
Pupils’ exposure to allergens is not limited to the kitchen and dining hall in school. We work with headteachers when there is a question of managing exposure in the wider school – free milk provision, after school clubs, food from home, unavoidable spillages, school trips. This ensures school wide risk assessments are meaningful.
Last Modified: 30/03/2023
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