Allergic diseases are among the fastest growing chronic conditions in Australia, affecting 1 in 5 Australians. Allergies are more prevalent in the younger population, however, they can be developed at any age and are rapidly becoming an area of concern for the elderly population.
The elderly have been identified as an at risk group for allergies due to cognitive decline and slower immune systems. This can increase the potential of developing an allergic reaction and decrease the ability to identify potential threats. As a result, it is paramount that allergy awareness and education are practiced in Aged Care facilities.
The most commonly identified food allergens in aged care are gluten, crustaceans, egg, fish, milk, peanuts and soybeans. Symptoms of food allergies can range from mild to severe. Common symptoms of food allergies can involve the skin, nasal passages, eyes, mouth/lips, ears, gastrointestinal tract, respiratory and cardiovascular systems.
Awareness of allergen risk in aged care has increased over the past few months, with raised concerns about the lack of standardised practice which can often lead to mismanagement in food service. To minimise the rise at site, we implement a number of control measures such as –
- Identify residents with food-related allergies.
- Identify allergens on site and store separately.
- Design the menu to reduce the risk of allergens.
- In the event of an allergen spill, all unopened/uncovered food in the immediate area must be discarded.
- Good hygiene practices prior to handling of allergen-free meals which includes hand washing and clean gloves.
- Separate cleaned and sanitised cookware and utensils for cooking, preparation and serving
- Covering of allergen-free meals to avoid cross contamination.
At Cater Care we have a number of allergen management systems in place to help minimise allergy outbreaks and ensure that risk is reduced. In addition to the control measures listed above we focus on identification, monitoring and prevention to enable a safe environment for residents with allergies. Upon induction into our facilities allergies are identified and entered into an Allergy Management Register provided by the client or created by Cater Care. Throughout the meal preparation, storage and service we ensure that cross contamination is minimised by separating and clearly identifying the specific meal/resident/allergen.
Minimise the stress of allergy risk at your site by outsourcing your catering. For more information please contact Jonathan Storer on 0424 175 949 or David O’Brien on 0424 190 566.