As a food service provider, there are four things you can do to help prevent an allergic incident:
Free food allergy training is now available. Further information is available on our Home page.
USE BY- This date tells you how long you have to safely eat a particular food. After the use by date it should be thrown away even if you can’t see signs of spoilage. Its also illegal to sell food once its use by date has passed.
BEST BEFORE- This means exactly what it says. Food is at its best before the date specified if stored as per pack instructions in the Canteen. After this date the quality of the food will be affected and start to decline. Legally, foods can still be sold after the best before date provided it is still fit for human consumption.
BAKED ON- Also known as ‘date baked’ this lets you know the freshness of a baked item. These usually have a shelf life of less than 7 days so a simple calculation will tell you how long you have to safely use it.
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Gluten is the name of the protein found in Barley, Rye, Oats and Wheat- and in any foods made from them. Burghul, Couscous, Durum wheat, Spelt, Farro and Semolina also contain Gluten.
A gluten free diet is necessary for someone with Coeliac disease and may also be chosen to help reduce symptoms in other medical conditions. For example, for someone with a wheat allergy, a gluten free diet makes it easier to avoid wheat but it is not necessary for them to avoid other gluten containing grains such as barley, oats and rye. Other people may choose a gluten free diet as a lifestyle choice.
· Never make a judgement on why someone makes a gluten free request
· Always make sure menu items labelled as gluten free are actually gluten free.
· Always treat requests for gluten free food seriously.
Ingredients such as wheat derived glucose, glucose syrup, caramel colour, dextrose and some soy sauces and vegetable proteins will contain a declaration of their wheat source on a food label. However, as they are significantly processed, these ingredients are suitable for those on a gluten free diet.
If you are using a trusted supplier, a gluten free claim will always mean no detectable gluten, regardless of the presence of wheat derived ingredients in the ingredient list.
Gluten free alternatives can be found for most ingredients.
Don’t assume all products within the one brand will be gluten free. Ingredients and processes may vary with different pack sizes or between mild, medium and hot variants for example.
Check every label on every product.
For further information visit www,coeliac.org.au
Many canteens are manned by a combination of paid staff and volunteers. Volunteer help is an invaluable resource for school canteens in South Australia. Don’t forget to check with your school regarding the requirement for police/security checks. One definite advantage of helping in the Canteen is the volunteer being able to see their children in the school environment. Seeing them interact with their friends and having their faces light up when they come in to visit is very rewarding.
Approach people and ask: Be brave- nothing beats speaking to people. Think about the individuals in your school community who might be good to have on the roster and who you think might enjoy the canteen environment. Even ask other volunteers or school staff for suggestions.
Advertise: Have a note in the school newsletter- vary the note from time to time or even miss a few newsletters to keep it fresh. Put flyers in key points around the school and don’t forget to place a note in the School Information kit that is given to new families.
Encourage parents/carers/grandparents to visit: Having an opportunity to see the Canteen in action can increase interest and decrease the ‘fear of the unknown’. Perhaps have an ‘Open Day’ after lunch until pick up time so anyone interested can pop in for a chat. Bake some biscuits, put the kettle on and hopefully you might see some new faces.
Look elsewhere: If you are really struggling, look to Community groups such as your local church for example, who may have individuals interested in volunteering. Organisations such as Volunteering SA can also be a good resource.
Thanks: Volunteers need to know they are appreciated. Regularly thank your volunteers in person and acknowledge their help publicly, such as in the school newsletter or Canteen reports. If possible plan an official ‘thank you’ occasion for the end of year- a dinner or an afternoon tea. A small thank you gift as a token of yours and the school’s appreciation is also a lovely gesture.
Train: Canteens are a food business and so there are several basic laws that food handlers should know. Most councils offer an on-line basic food safety course that can be recommended to your volunteers. Depending on the tasks your volunteer will undertake, a training shift can set the scene for a successful relationship. Try not to overwhelm a new volunteer- you would like them to come back!
Time: Set clear time lines for your volunteers and do your best to stick to them- don’t exploit their goodwill. Always remember that they are volunteering their time to help you in your paid position.
Tasks: Find out what your volunteer would like to do and is good at and plan their shift around this information. If you have someone that loves to bake, utilise that skill. Alternatively, you may have another volunteer who is happy to simply wash dishes and clean- it all helps. Having a list of tasks for volunteers to complete can help them realise the importance of their help.
Most importantly, ensure the Canteen is a friendly and enjoyable environment to work in.