Food expert Lara Holland has developed a restaurant training program to help identify menu flaws as operators try to attract consumers with food allergies.

Holland works directly with restaurants — from single locations to national chains — to help them better cater to the estimated 12 million Americans suffering from food allergies.

"What we're truly doing is developing a plan to bring individuals with food allergies back into the mainstream as regular customers," Holland said. "For far too long, this group has been relegated to being ignored by commercial kitchens in hotels and by restaurants large and small. But the more I work with these professionals they realize there's incredible opportunity to bring in a sense of loyalty if a menu is even slightly tailored to meet the needs of these customers, or if they have been through a certification process."

Holland trains professionals on how to manage food allergen and gluten-free environments in commercial kitchens. She is certified to teach the program through Kitchens with Confidence, which is approved by the American Culinary Federation. Those who take her classes gain ACF credits while nutritionists gain similar credits from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Holland provides a free up-front review of a restaurant or kitchen's menu and invites the manager or owner of the establishment to eat at their own facility with her. This is done to demonstrate how limited the menu may be or how much goes into serving a food allergic person if they don't have a policy or plan.

Holland has a six-step process for working with commercial establishments:

  • Food Allergy Awareness & Sensitivity Training
  • Ingredient Analysis
  • Foodology & Smart Menu Design
  • Learning to Cook Allergy Friendly
  • Food Allergy Approval & Marketing
  • Follow Up

More information is available at ilaraholland.com.

Read more about food safety.

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