We keep hearing more and more about restaurants who do not have sufficient allergen menu labelling and who make mistakes and serve customers the wrong food, or food that makes them ill, or worse…
We hear about the fatalities, the deaths and the court hearings.
We don’t hear about all the near misses.
How many of us actually report mistakes? And often does this happen and go unchecked, unreported or gets brushed under the carpet?
If you’re like me, you just want to get away and never go back to that establishment. But we should be reporting these incidents, especially if we feel other customers may also be at risk.
I’ve definitely been guilty myself of just putting an incident down to experience and doing nothing, but we should all start to take action.
Do you speak to the restaurant?
Not speaking to the restaurant creates problems. Not only could other allergic diners be at risk, but the other problem here is that the restaurant might not even know they made a mistake. They might not understand what they’re doing wrong.
If we don’t tell them, they just won’t know.
So firstly, we should flag up any issue to staff and try to speak to a manager. Use the complaints procedure at the company to escalate any issues you think are very dangerous. They should take your concerns seriously and investigate internally, either to put in new procedures, educate staff or change how they operate.
But what if you feel like they’re not listening?
What if you are really concerned someone else might become ill?
You can report any restaurant for not adhering to European Allergen Laws to the Food Standards Agency. I’m not suggesting for a minute we all go out and do this for minor mistakes.
I’ve done it twice in my life and both times were after very nasty reactions due to serious mistakes made by food service establishments. There have been many little things that I’ve taken up with restaurants and mostly they will listen. But do they really make changes and learn from each tiny opportunity to make things safer? Do we go back and check? How do we make things safer?
Reporting a food problem is easy
It’s quite easy to report a problem. The Food Standards Agency will then investigate the problem and if they think it’s a valid claim it will be passed to the local Trading Standards Authority who will look into it in more detail. They will probably contact you to discuss it in more detail and in my experience, every time I’ve done this it’s been taken really seriously. Click on the button below to see the form…
Have you had a bad experience when eating out?
Did you report it to the restaurant? Did they take your concerns seriously?
What is the answer?
I’d love to have a system, linked with food and hygiene safety where a restaurant can be closed down until they are safe again, like they do for food poisoning outbreaks. Obviously this would be for really dangerous violations. But currently they can have 1 star and still be trading. They could be taking no care or caution to avoid cross contamination, not alerting customers to dangers and still be allowed to trade.
I also want to see better and mandatory food allergen training for all restaurant staff and something for front of house staff too, because they are the really important ones, they are often carrying that first message to the kitchen… if they get it wrong, that’s when really bad mistakes can happen.
I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Janet C B Woodward says
We need a competition to find the most bizzare excuse or incorrect information.
Did you know gluten burns off in a deep fat frier?
Keep up the good work.
Ruth Holroyd says
Hey Janet, what a fun idea! I give you – it’s got diary in it but only a little bit, can you take an anti-histamine?
More often than not I speak to the restaurant, when they ignore them I will make steps to report to LA EHOs, although in some cases due to their workload they follow up with a telephone call or not at all unless you persist which is frustrating
Interesting blog post
Ruth Holroyd says
Hi Caroline! Yes I’ve heard they are really over worked due to staff shortages. I’ve always had a phone call initially and then proper follow up after. And thanks so much for the comment, and all the work you do to help restaurants with food allergen training