Food allergens
Foodborne illnesses

Food Safety

Accommodating guest with Food Allergies

As food allergy awareness increases, it’s more important than ever for restaurant kitchens and wait staff to be prepared when serving a guest with a potentially grave food allergy. Approximately one in 25 Americans report that they suffer from a food allergy, according to the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network.


Welcoming Guests with Food Allergies: Download the free training guide for restaurant staff, developed by the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network in cooperation with the National Restaurant Association.

ServSafe Food Safety Training and Certification: The NRA’s ServSafe® Allergens online training and certification program includes information on food allergies and prevention of incidences.

  • Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network
  • National Foundation for Celiac Awareness
  • Food and Drug Administration
  • International Food Information Council
  • Culinary Institute of America’s


Food Allergens FAQ

What’s the difference between a food allergy and a food intolerance?

A food allergy is an immune system response to a food that the body mistakenly believes is harmful. Allergic symptoms can affect the respiratory system, gastrointestinal tract, skin and/or cardiovascular system. Reactions can be deadly. A food intolerance is a reaction that, unlike food allergy, doesn’t involve the immune system. Instead, it involves the digestive system, and the body simply lacks the mechanism or enzyme needed to digest and process a particular food properly.

What foods cause allergic reactions, and what are the symptoms?

The Food and Drug Administration says more than 160 food items can cause allergic reactions but that these eight foods account for about 90% of all allergic reactions:

  • Milk
  • Eggs
  • Peanuts
  • Tree nuts, such as almonds, walnuts and pecans
  • Soybeans
  • Wheat
  • Fish
  • Shellfish, such as crab, lobster and shrimp

What are the symptoms of an allergic reaction to food, and how quickly do these occur after eating?

Depending on the person, an allergic reaction can happen right after the food is eaten or several hours later. This reaction could include some or all of the following symptoms:

  • itching in and around the mouth, face or scalp
  • tightening in the throat
  • wheezing or shortness of breath
  • hives
  • swelling of the face, eyes, hands or feet
  • abdominal cramps, vomiting or diarrhea
  • loss of consciousness
  • death