School meals / Catering
Children with food allergies need to follow a strict diet of allergen avoidance and avoid food to which they are allergic to.
Professional kitchen and dining staff should have the relevant training in food allergies.
The child must bring their allergist card identifying the forbidden foods and the protocol for an allergic reaction. This information and the method of administration should be known by the kitchen and dining staff. Also, the need to manage an allergic reaction to medication must be easily accessible and known by all staff of the centre.
One must also know the products to be avoided (the allergen can sometimes be hidden in traces or in its composition). To do this, parents will be asked for a list of products to avoid and another for suitable brands.
It is important that the family of the allergic patient has a monthly menu plan well in advance so that the adapted specific menu of the allergic child is agreed a few days before consumption.
Recommendations for the kitchen:
The following recommendations should be carried out throughout the food preparation process, which runs from food storage once purchased, during cooking and preserving the food once it has been prepared. This aims to avoid cross-contamination, i.e., foods or portions of foods that may contain portions of the allergen or other food that produces allergy coming into contact with the prepared meal for an allergic child.
Food to be consumed by an allergic child will be stored separately from other foods and be protected (e.g. in plastic containers with lids or in sealed plastic bags) and correctly identified.
To prepare a safe menu, we must consider:
Having a unique place and utensils (plates, pans, ladles, whisks, tea towels …). If this is not possible, prepare at the beginning of the day and keep covered and separate until time to serve.
- Perform a thorough cleaning of work surfaces and utensils that have been used before with the regular menu.
- All the products that may contain the allergen, either as an ingredient or as an additive should be excluded entirely from the menu. Because of this it is important to read and understand labeling correctly. When in doubt, consult the parents or avoid the product.
- Products with incorrect or incomplete labeling should not be used.
- As far as possible, unprocessed foods will be used instead of ready made foods due to the increased risk of the latter to contain the allergen in any hidden form.
Avoiding the use of reused oils, stock and water used for cooking, … that may contain the allergen.
During storage of the finished menu:
Once the safe menu has been prepared it will be stored in closed trays and correctly identified with the full name of the child.
If it is necessary to heat the food, an oven microwave or oven for exclusive use or a covered container will be used.
- School serving staff will have all the information about the child’s allergy and how to deal with an allergic reaction.
- Staff will identify the child with allergies and increase surveillance, preventing children from sharing any food. Allergic children should always sit in the same place to facilitate monitoring, but there is no need to sit them alone.
- Serve all food to the allergic child in their individual trays, do not serve sharing dishes such as salads.
- Give only safe food, when in doubt remove the dish.
- If the child refuses some food never force him to eat it.
Children should always wash their hands and mouth after eating to prevent contact with debris or traces of food with the allergic child, besides being a standard of basic hygiene.
Rules taken from the AEPNAA – recommendations for allergic children.
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