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As a chef, allergies and intolerances present a unique challenge and opportunity. If you’re not already doing so, you need to start thinking of creating suitable dishes for customers with them. This article will introduce you to the topic of food allergies and intolerances, and give you some insights into why people with allergies need to be very picky with their food. You’ll also see why you should create alternative dishes to meet their unique needs.

What’s the difference?

Food allergies occur when the body’s immune system mistakes a food protein for an allergen and attacks it. Allergic reactions to foods vary in severity and can be potentially fatal.

Symptoms may include:

  • Stomach upsets
  • Rashes
  • Eczema
  • Itching of the skin or mouth
  • Swelling of tissues (e.g. the lips or throat)
  • Difficulty in breathing
     

Food intolerances, on the other hand, are simply the body’s inability to digest a particular food, which is why it is important to be aware of common types of food intolerances, such as lactose intolerance.

Look out for these symptoms:

  • Abdominal cramps
  • Bloating
  • Diarrhoea

Understand the differences and symptoms, and consider putting disclaimers on tables or in your menu if there are common allergens such as peanuts used in your restaurant. Show your diners you care about them, and they will do the same for your restaurant – with positive word-of-mouth recommendations, online reviews, testimonials and more.