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Tip of the Quarter April 2018

Allergens

At Michigan State University Concessions, we pride ourselves on leading with food.  If you come to our Stadium or Arenas, you can find a variety of options from Healthy Grab and Go’s, Loaded Pork BBQ Sliders, a Cheesy Beefsteak Sandwich or our unique hotdog, made just for our Concessions.  Now, would you think that the hotdog has milk in it or the grilled chicken you are eating has soy in the marinade?  If you don’t have an issue with eating these ingredients, you probably wouldn’t.  But what about the fans that do?

With the growing number of food allergies and intolerances, it has become more important to be able to provide the Allergen Tags and ingredients in what we serve to our guests. Michigan State Culinary Services has made tagging allergen information a priority for the Dining Halls. We want to provide safe environments for our students and to have the information at hand.

In the last year, we have had a fair amount of phone calls and emails regarding these concerns, ranging from ticket holders who have a child with a soy allergy or a fan from the opposing team who has celiac. How can we do the best to ensure that the ingredient information is available?  How can we provide this safe environment in our Athletic Venues?  How can we alleviate food anxiety for our guests? 

Our goal this year is to have all of our items and their ingredients in a central documentation. This will be separated by athletic venue, like Football Stadium, Basketball and Hockey Arena, etc. The intent is that all of the information is readily available,  if there is a question or concern. As this wheel has already been invented, so to say, we can utilize our campus dietician and the data base the Dining Halls use to help. 

We then can tag the common allergens (Top 8), in our dishes. We learn about these when we take our exams for Food Safety Certification. Top Allergens include: Soy, Wheat/Gluten, Peanuts, Tree Nuts, Shellfish, Milk/Dairy, Fish and Eggs. 

Last, to simplify the information, we are creating a menu tagged with these items and sharing to guest services, posting in our individual stands and sharing with staff. This means that the information is readily available to multiple people. Any advance questions can be filtered to myself and/or the on campus dietician, who works during the (8-5) business week.

Tagging allergens are a benefit to your operation. Whether or not you have a dietician available, I believe having this information accessible shows value to your guest and their experience.

Simplified example menu from our Chicken Utopia Venue looks something like this:

 

Crispy Chicken Sandwich:

Contains: Wheat/Gluten, Soy

Chicken Wings: 

Contains: None

Chicken Tenders:

Contains: Wheat/Gluten

 

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