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Educational: MICE & Food Awareness


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FOOD AWARENESS MATTERS TO MICE PROFESSIONALS: Event professionals and their catering partners must be prepared to meet the needs of food-allergic event participants. It could mean the difference between an enjoyable experience, a sick delegate, an offended guest or even the unfortunate death of an attendee.

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Educational: MICE & Food Awareness

  1. 1. Educational: MICE & Food Awareness Brought to you by MPI Belgium
  2. 2. Food & diet awareness
  3. 3. Why does it matter to MICE professionals? Event professionals and their catering partners must be prepared to meet the needs of food-allergic event participants. It could mean the difference between an enjoyable experience or the unfortunate death of an attendee.
  4. 4. Facts Globally, researchers estimate 220-250 million people may suffer from a food allergy. In the US, nearly 15 million people have food allergies. In Europe, 17 million people are afflicted. Research suggests that close to 50 percent of all fatal food allergies are triggered from food consumed outside of the home. That includes staying at hotels, conferences, employee picnics, corporate dinners, etc. Source: FARE
  5. 5. Exercise for during the presentation Imagine trying to eat like someone with a food allergy every day, keeping in mind that you are not always able to eat at home or bring your own food. • 3-day conference abroad • Early start morning & late evening end • Unflexible event catering & hotel catering setting
  6. 6. Image left: Roz Chast
  7. 7. Medical Religious & Cultural Lifestyle
  8. 8. Allergy vs intolerance Food allergy • Immune response caused by a protein • Symptoms appear soon after eating • May be at risk of a life-threatening reaction (anaphylaxis) • Smallest amount of the allergen causes a reaction Food intolerance • Usually enzyme deficiency • Symptoms appear later • Not life-threatening, can cause a range of symptoms • May be able to eat small amounts of the offending food without trouble • Quite common
  9. 9. The EU Top14 allergens • The EU Top14 foods and substances (“allergens”) which are identified in the EU legislation. • Consumers intolerant or allergic to different foodstuffs can react to a wide range of amounts of allergenic foods. These amounts can vary considerably (from micrograms to grams) depending on the individual’s personal tolerance, their health and their current medication. Dairy Egg FishTree Nuts Peanuts Soybeans Source: FoodDrinkEurope, Guidance on Food Allergen Management for Food Manufacturers
  10. 10. Most common intolerances • Dairy (Lactose or Milk intolerance) • Gluten • Fructose, fructans and polyols • Yeast • Alcohol • Sulphites Image: Lifehacker, remixed from ayelet-keshet (Shutterstock) and moonkin (Shutterstock).
  11. 11. Celiac disease • Not an allergy, not a food intolerance • A life-long autoimmune disease • Body produces antibodies that attack its own tissues • Triggered by gluten, a family of proteins found in wheat, rye, barley and oats • Causes an inflammatory response that damages the gut People who do not have coeliac disease can be allergic to cereals, such as wheat.
  12. 12. Diabetes & heart disease Provide items low in: • salt • fat • sugar Provide items high in fiber such as: • beans • fruits • vegetables • grains
  13. 13. Medical Religious & Cultural Lifestyle
  14. 14. Types of diets – Religious & Culural Buddhism • Some practise vegetarianism based on a strict interpretation of the first of the Five Precepts. Hinduism • Often follow lacto-vegetarian diets, based on the principle of Ahimsa (non- harming). • Alcohol is avoided. Islam • Halal • Haraam substances (not OK) include alcohol, pork, and any meat from an animal which was not killed through the Islamic method of ritual slaughter (Dhabiha). • Ramadan Judaism • Kosher • Some foods and food combinations are non-Kosher • Failure to prepare food in accordance with Kashrut can make otherwise permissible foods non-Kosher Christians • Lent
  15. 15. Medical Religious & Cultural Lifestyle
  16. 16. VEGETARIAN VEGAN The most current and common forms of vegetarianism are: • Lacto Vegetarian (no eggs) • Pescetarian (eats fish) PALEO Avoid consumption or usage (leather) of anything that comes from an animal (meat, poultry, fish and seafood) and all by-products (milk, eggs, honey). Also avoid using animals for entertainment. RAW FOOD MACROBIOTIC Food cannot be cooked over 40°C
  17. 17. Do you provide standard meals for those with religious, cultural or lifestyle choices? For which ‘diets’ – where do you draw the line? Do you provide special meals upon request? Does your hotel ask guests for dietary information upon booking?
  18. 18. How to provide your customers with information?
  19. 19. Legislation doesn’t set out a single way that the allergen information has to be provided in a catering setting.
  20. 20. Voluntary best practises • Keep it clear and easily visible, legible and accurate. • Information can be given for the entire dish or with components separated to give customers more choice. Example: BBQ Chicken Burger and coleslaw (Chicken burger: wheat; BBQ sauce: celery, fish; Bun: wheat, eggs, sesame; Coleslaw: egg, celeriac, mustard).  Customer with mustard allergy can ask burger without coleslaw. Source:, Interactive Food Service Menu (link)
  21. 21. Voluntary best practises • Ask customers to tell you if they have a food allergy or intolerance. Put this in writing on the menu. “Before you order your food and drinks please speak to our staff if you have a food allergy or intolerance. There may be a risk of cross contamination which could affect those with severe allergies.“ • Advise against high-risk menu choices Fried foods, desserts, stews, sauces. Finger food that is being served together with non- safe foods (cross-contamination).
  22. 22. Make menu reading food allergy friendly Instead of Apple Cake Blue Cheese Dressing Monterey Pasta Salad Chicken Stir-Fry Asian Noodles Describe as Apple-Walnut Cake Blue Cheese and Walnut Dressing Monterey Pasta Salad With Almonds Chicken Cashew Stir-Fry Asian Noodles With Peanuts
  23. 23. Blackboard • Flexible medium • Clear allergen mention • Ask customers to tell you if they have a food allergy or intolerance. Source:, Interactive Food Service Menu
  24. 24. Menu w/ icons • Not-so-flexible medium • Don’t forget to have a legend • Ask customers to tell you if they have a food allergy or intolerance. Image source: TGI Fridays & Allergenen Consultancy
  25. 25. Walt Disney World Resort • Webpage with information • Ability to request a special meal • Mention « The sooner you let us know… » • Personal food items allowed
  26. 26. Buffet labelling • Use of a symbols or colours • Don’t forget a legend if symbols might not be clear • Be specfic and mention all ingredients
  27. 27. Menu • Information for all 3 categories: • Medical- allergens specified • Religious • Lifestyle Source:
  28. 28. Seated dinners • Use stickers on namecards
  29. 29. “Backstage”: Allergen matrix • Helpful for staff • Staff can give this to a customer so they can make the right decision • Careful with cross- contamination!
  30. 30. Be smart about managing food at your events
  31. 31. Ask in advance Source: 1
  32. 32. Question round Have you ever been at an event with ’special meal vouchers’? Do you think this is a good solution? You might get a lot of dietary requests: from allergies, to intolerances, to religious restrictions. And then we didn’t include those on lifestyle diets such as paleo or ‘pure’ eating. How do you deal with this?
  33. 33. How do you tackle this? You might get a lot of dietary requests: from allergies, to intolerances, to religious restrictions. And then we didn’t include those on lifestyle diets such as paleo or ‘pure’ eating. Question round: Too many (different) dietary requests
  34. 34. Communicate with all partners Source: 2 Attendee Planner Caterer • Get attendees to communicate to you as a planner. • Acknowledge you received attendees’ information, follow-up explaining how their needs will be addressed. • Make sure all catering partners are aware of dietary needs for each of the functions. • Communicate with catering partners about how to address the needs of attendees, how cross-contamination will be avoided & how will be communicated with attendees.
  35. 35. How does reception communicate towards catering for special requests? Do you have a CRM system registering dietary requests so the info is available next time an attendee registers/books? Question round
  36. 36. Label Buffets and Stations Source: 3 • Labeling buffets with ingredient lists helps guests with special dietary needs feel more comfortable selecting items to eat. Manage Cross Contamination4 • Make sure event staff is conscientious of cross contamination when serving guests. • Have a separate station, sauté pans or blenders for those with food allergies.
  37. 37. How do you tackle this? My caterer is not providing special meals for attendees with food allergies, or there is no budget left to provide everyone with a meal they can have. Question round: Special meals not possible
  38. 38. Alternatives5 • Provide a lunch bag with pre-packaged food that is labelled allergy- free. • Try to see whether nearby restaurants/shops can accommodate your attendees and issue gift certificates. • Look into companies that ship and create healthy and allergy-free snack boxes to your event or select attendee's rooms.
  39. 39. • Provide a room with a refrigerator if available. • Contact people who mention allergies/intolerances and confirm they’ll have a refrigerator. • Some hotels actually shop for you guests and stock their minibar with foods they request. Hotel minibars5
  40. 40. How to decide to go the extra mile? Consider these things: • Are they paying? • Is the event mandatory to attend? • Can people go outside for breaks and are there restaurants / shops around where people with food requirements can have lunch? • Is it a passive or active event? • What else?
  41. 41. How do you tackle this? As a PCO you might run into the issue that some clients won't see the need to collect personal information or they may feel it is an invasion of privacy to pass medical information on to event planners. Question round: Privacy concerns
  42. 42. How do you tackle this? There are a lot of no-shows in general, when people with (difficult) dietary requirements don’t show up it feels even more as a waste. Question round: No-shows
  43. 43. How will it influence event & hospitality staff?
  44. 44. “Their staff will also need training so that they understand the processes in place in the business where they work and know how to deal with the questions they get from allergic customers” - Sue Hattersley, Head of Allergy at Food Standards Agency“It is not expected that everyone should be able to answer every question but there should be at least someone in the organisation on shift who can deal with all questions relating to allergenic ingredients. This could be a duty manager, owner or chef who knows the information.” - Sue Hattersley, Head of Allergy at Food Standards Agency
  45. 45. Ensuring your team is ready • Is the staff aware of the potentially serious consequences of an allergic reaction? • Does the staff know how to deal responsibly with questions about allergy? • Who answers questions about allergens? Is there an appointed ‘allergy manager’? • Does kitchen staff know they should prepare a new meal if an allergen accidentally got into a dish? • Does the staff know what to do if a guest has an allergic reaction? • Who does what in an emergency? • Is everyone aware of cross-contamination during preparation, cooking and serving? Source:, Interactive Food Service Menu (link)
  46. 46. “If companies provide clear and consistent information then people with allergies will go there regularly, which in itself is a commercial advantage as you will gain trust within your allergy customers.” - Sue Hattersley, Head of Allergy at Food Standards AgencyThe customer has a responsibility to ask for information and relay their dietary needs to the person providing the food. Customers should make the final decision on whether or not to buy and eat a food, based on the information you provide.
  47. 47. Food trends
  48. 48. BRAINFOOD
  49. 49. « Food for the brain » Accredits hotels and institutions. rition-solutions/accreditation-in- catering/accredited-institutions.aspx
  51. 51. The best kind of small plates are actually the ones that require no plates at all. Get creative: replace small plates by paper cones. Small portions on small plates instead of courses.
  52. 52. GLUTEN FREE
  53. 53. LOCAVORISM
  55. 55. Cut your own pasta Live food bars Food & Beverage Carts
  57. 57. Macaroni and cheese bites Miniature Grilled Cheese with Creamy Tomato Soup Mini-hamburgers with sophisticated toppings
  58. 58. VEGGIE-BASED
  59. 59. Menu ideas
  60. 60. Menu ideas • Not-your-typical salad • Baby Salad Greens with Grape Tomatoes, Euro Cucumbers, Carrot Curls, Beet Curls, Olives, and Balsamic Vinaigrette or Cucumber Lemon Dill Dressing • Build-your-own soup du jours • Choice of: Vegetable Broth, Seven Onion Broth, Thai Chili Lemon Grass Green Curry • With: Rice Noodles, Roasted Vegetables, Carrots, Snap Peas, Bean Sprouts, Grilled Chicken Scallions, and Mushrooms • Sundae Bar • With dairy free ice-cream and gluten-free toppings • Build your own fajita station (with corn wraps or tortillas) • Oatmeal breakfast bar – choose water / milk / soy milkand toppings
  61. 61. Menu ideas • Starters • Edamame Steamed and served with kosher salt • Seared Tuna served with avocado, scallions and a side of tataki sauce • Mains • Roasted Chicken Breasts Chimichurri with Olive Oil, Garlic, Oregano, and Parsley • Baked Grilled Beef Tenderloin Medallions with Pan Roasted Wild Mushrooms • Moroccan Vegetable Stew paired with a Grilled Corn Polenta or with Quinoa • Grilled Vegetables and Rosemary Oil