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Case Study 1: Family Style Restaurant

"Sometimes restaurant employees are very responsive, and I can see that they understand and want to make every effort to make sure the food is safe. However, other times they might say they think everything is fine. I came to find out that my daughter was served a product with a tree nut in it."

The Story

A couple and their eight-year-old child, who has a severe tree nut and peanut allergy, went to a family-style restaurant for dinner. Once the family was seated, they discussed the severity of the food allergy with their server. As the couple decided what to order, the server would come and go from their table, and each menu item ordered was talked over with the server. It was asked that each item come without sauces, to avoid the possibility of an allergic reaction. The server confirmed their order and gave the order to the chef. When the food arrived, the couple looked over the food to make sure it was as expected before giving it to their child.

After dinner, the parents ordered a dessert for the child: a brownie served with ice cream. Again, they asked the server to make sure there were no nuts in the dessert. They also requested that any toppings be left off the ice cream and brownie. The server was then called back to look over the items and said they were okay. The server was then asked to go ask the chef, and upon returning, the server said, "Oh, there is almond extract in the ice cream." The ice cream was made with a small amount of almond extract, which would have caused the child to have a severe allergic reaction if the food would have been consumed. The couple was furious. The husband went to talk to the chef and the wife talked to the manager to complain and figure out why the server served the food without checking with the chef first.

"My husband and I were absolutely livid, because that would have put her into anaphylaxis."

Questions

  1. What could the couple have done differently to avoid this situation?
  2. What could the server have done differently to avoid this situation?
  3. As a foodservice manager, how would you have addressed the couple after the incident?
  4. As a foodservice manager, how would you have addressed the employees after the incident?
  5. As a foodservice manager, what would you do to prevent similar incidents in the future?