Lancashire County Council
School & Residential Care Catering Service
Policy for the Provision of Special Diets and Communication of Allergens
Lancashire County Catering Service is committed to satisfying the needs of our customers and stakeholders and shall endeavour to meet their expectations.
In order to meet our commitments it is our policy to provide a school meal for all pupils, including those with medical diets.
With the introduction of Universal Infant Free School Meal in September 2014 and changes to the Food Information Regulations 2013 in December 2014, it is necessary to outline our procedures for handling the service of special diets and the communication of allergen information to our customers.
Allergen information shall be available and easily accessible to customers, in accordance with the Food Information Regulations (FIR) 2013, for all foods, for the following list of allergens:
Special diets are diets for pupils with a medically diagnosed requirement; not just a dislike of certain foods or food groups. It is our policy to provide a menu for those pupils with medically diagnosed food allergies, food intolerances or a medical condition which affects eating requirements. The Catering Service understands that some people have particular sensitivities to certain foods that non – sufferers would find harmless. When someone has a food allergy, their immune system reacts to a particular food or food groups.
We recognise that severe allergies can cause life threatening reactions and that food intolerances do not involve the immune system and are not generally life threatening, but can make the customer feel poorly.
It is our policy to safely provide special diets by operating a rigorous food safety management system as part of our central HACCP system, which identifies the appropriate controls and working instructions required for the provision of special diets.
The organisation will provide all necessary training and instruction to Catering management and frontline staff and monitor its effectiveness. The provision of special diets will be regularly audited and if applicable corrective measures put in place.
Roles & Responsibilities
Catering Service Management
Catering Service Kitchen Staff
Frequently Asked Questions…….
What is the difference between an allergen and intolerance?
This is outlined in the Policy document which clarifies that allergens can cause life threatening reactions whereas intolerances are not generally life threatening.
Why is medical evidence of the allergy or intolerance required?
Children can be faddy eaters and their parent/guardian, with all best intentions, may wish to ensure that the child only receives the types of food which they prefer. Children should be encouraged to eat a balanced and healthy diet which contains all relevant food groups, not only the ones that they prefer. Medical evidence of an allergy or intolerance ensures that we focus on the needs of sufferers and consider this across the full academic day. Also, there can be additional advice, complications or medications brought about by allergens or intolerances which may be required to be recorded within the child's health care plan.
Why can't children with allergens or intolerances just have a packed lunch which is prepared by their parent?
It is the statutory responsibility of the school to ensure that any child who is eligible for a Free School Meal receives one. This responsibility includes those pupils with medically diagnosed conditions.
Are allergens and intolerances limited to the 14 listed?
No, any type of food can be considered as a potential allergen or can contribute towards an intolerance.
Why do you only provide planned menus for lactose and gluten free?
These are the two most common medically diagnosed allergens and intolerances which account for over 90% of dietary menu requests. Menus for other allergens and intolerances can be provided upon specific request.
Are the published lactose and gluten free menus guaranteed to be free from dairy and gluten?
No, ingredients and products are checked to ensure that ingredients and product labelling does not denote any of the allergens however, there is always the risk of cross contamination occurring somewhere within the food supply and production chain. Only products which are produced in an environment which is completely free from the allergen can be guaranteed to be "free from" School & Residential Care Catering
What is cross contamination and how does this happen?
People who are diagnosed with food allergies need to avoid eating the foods that trigger their symptoms. However, simply avoiding those allergenic foods often isn't enough to eliminate symptoms—that's where cross-contamination comes in. Cross contamination occurs when a food allergen contaminates a food that is naturally free of allergens. Cross contamination of allergens can occur either directly if the allergen is added to food or indirectly if it causes contamination due to the use of the same utensils, inadequate hand or equipment washing etc. Schools who utilise their kitchen outside of the lunchtime period should ensure that the catering service are made aware of this so that appropriate controls can be put in place to protect both parties.
What controls do School & Residential Care Catering have in place?
School & Residential Care Catering provide published menus which contain ingredients and products which have been checked for the most common 14 allergens. The published menu is accompanied by corresponding menu leaflets for parents, a menu pack for kitchen use and is also posted on Schools Portal for schools to access. Dishes which contain allergens are denoted on the kitchen allergen matrix and staff are instructed to check that they receive the correct ingredients and product brands before providing a meal to an allergen sufferer and also to check the labelling of the products to ensure that they do not contain the allergen(s) which relate to the pupil. Your Unit Catering Supervisor is trained in the management of allergens and employs suitable segregation of goods during the receipt, storage and preparation of all dishes. Any local changes made by schools to the dishes on the published menu will not have been considered within these controls. Any school that wishes to make changes to the published menu should contact their Area Operations Manager prior to making changes.
Why is there so much concern about allergens and intolerances at the moment?
The number of sufferers continues to increase annually, as does the range of allergens which can cause reactions. It is estimated that between 8-10% of the UK population suffer with some form of allergen or intolerance. To place this into context there are approximately 115,000 primary and secondary aged children living within Lancashire and therefore, between 9,000 – 11,500 sufferers and this is one area of risk which is repeatedly introduced on a daily basis. There has also been a number of high profile incidents in the press and media in recent times, many of which resulted in the avoidable deaths of children and young people.
Where can I find further information?