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.

Each food service establishment is recommended to display a poster that includes information regarding the risk of an allergic reaction. Posters are available from our Environmental Health office, or they can be printed from the MDARD website. The poster is available in many languages.

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.