Food Allergy Information

Food allergies or food intolerances affect nearly everyone at some point. One out of three people either say that they have a food allergy or that they modify the family diet because a family member is suspected of having a food allergy. However, only about 2% of adults and between 2-4% of children have clinically proven allergic reactions to foods.

Requirements for Food Service Facilities

Food safety certified managers at food service establishments must complete the following items. For more information, please see the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) site.

  • Complete allergen training. Each food service establishment must have at least one certified manager that has also completed additional allergen training approved by the MDARD. An allergen training program certificate of completion is valid for 5 years from date of issuance. The required allergen training is available online.
  • Post an allergen poster in the establishment's staff area. Each food service establishment must display in the staff area a poster developed and approved by MDARD that includes, but is not limited to, information regarding the risk of an allergic reaction, or post the information from the poster in a different, readable notice in the staff area. Posters are available from our Environmental Health office, or they can be printed from the MDARD website.

Four Rs

Symptoms typically appear within minutes to two hours after a person has eaten a food to which he or she is allergic. To reduce the risk of illness via food allergy in your restaurant, make sure your staff are informed of the 8 major food allergens, and if they have a question from a customer, remember the "Four Rs" and follow these helpful guidelines:

  1. Refer the customer to the manager, person in charge or chef so that the question is handled appropriately.
  2. Review the food allergy with the guest and check the ingredients to see if the item ordered contains the allergen.
  3. Remember to check the preparation for potential cross contamination with the food allergen. For example, if a guest is allergic to fish, make sure the chicken they ordered is not fried in the same oil as the fish is.
  4. Respond to the guest and inform them of your findings. Because in today's modern world, all food has been processed or handled by someone before it was delivered to your restaurant, you cannot guarantee the item the guest has ordered is free of the substance. You should inform the guest of the precautionary measures you have taken and let them make an informed decision as to whether or not they would like to order an item.