Legal awareness of the choice of goods (services) will allow consumers and businesses to avoid misunderstandings or to settle them within limits stipulated by the current legislation. The main document that regulates the relations between consumers of goods is the Consumer Protection Law (Law). According to the Law, a consumer is an individual who purchases, orders use, or intend to buy or order products for personal needs that are not directly related to business activities or the performance of the duties of a hired employee.
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To meet their needs, the consumer enters into relations with the manufacturer, contractor, or seller. The manufacturer, contractor, or seller may be an enterprise, institution, organization, or citizen-entrepreneur who produces goods for sale, performs or provides services, sells products under a contract of sale. When purchasing goods or satisfying any household needs, each of us, without even thinking about it, becomes a party to the legal relationship that arises between the consumer on the one hand and the enterprise, institution, organization, or citizen-entrepreneur on the other.
To avoid any misunderstandings between the consumer and the economic operator engaged in the sale of goods or the provision of services, it is essential that the consumer receives, as far as possible, the maximum information about the product and, if necessary, directly about the product or service—the act of management. The law establishes that the consumer has the right to obtain the required, accessible, reliable, and timely information about the goods (works, services), which provides the opportunity for their conscious and competent choice. Such information must be provided to the consumer prior to purchasing the product or ordering a job (service).
The number of people suffering from allergies or food intolerance is continually increasing, so they will likely be among the hotel’s customers. For them, the effects of eating food containing an allergen or ingredient that cannot be digested by their body can cause both digestive disorders and rashes or migraines. In the case of allergies, there is even a risk of life-threatening anaphylactic shock. Theoretically, anything can be a food allergen, but the Law only requires a business to notify customers of the most common ingredients that cause allergies or intolerances. The study and awareness of allergens should be taken immediately to create internal regulations, which comply with the Law. If not, the company will face financial devastations, as the number of clients who have damaged their health will increase.
The hotel should minimize the risk of cross-contamination. Due to negligence or lack of hygiene or supervision, an allergen-free product may become contaminated with another allergen-containing product. While this should be avoided in any way, it usually happens when cooks use the same oil to fry different dishes, or when they improperly wash their hands, cutting boards, and utensils before cooking another meal. Avoiding cross-contamination with food allergens can help strict compliance with Good Manufacturing practices. However, if the chef understands that the food listed on the menu as allergen-free is somehow contaminated, he or she must cook it again.
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All kitchen staff and maintenance staff need to know these fourteen “risk components.” They also need to understand what is included in every ingredient in the regulation: for example, nuts are not only walnuts or pistachios, but also almonds, and fish may also mean caviar. They need to know where and in what form each ingredient goes. The best solution is to organize specialized training for them and hang up a list of food allergens in the kitchen for everyone to see. All staff should also be thoroughly aware of each dish on the menu – what products are used for their preparation (including garnish), and how. This requires that the hotel staff learn the recipes used in the kitchen and carefully check the labels of all the products used for cooking. For some people, even the smallest amount of allergen can cause an extreme reaction.
The chef should know how to change the dish to eliminate any unwanted ingredients if necessary. The secret is to understand simple techniques: for example, the kitchen can use butter instead of flour to thicken the sauce so that it does not contain gluten. However, if the chef finds that the hotel restaurant is popular with people who avoid a specific ingredient, such as lactose, consider purchasing special lactose-free milk and include a lactose-free option in the coffee menu. The hotel should tend to try new recipes or test new products, but with cautiousness. Similar products of different brands may have various components.
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So if the hotel will try a new brand of mayonnaise, it should check the label to make sure this mayonnaise does not contain gluten. The hotel makes sure that chefs adhere to the recipes, and if they make changes, they should always notify the whole staff.
All staff who communicate directly with clients (especially waiters) must be open to questions and able to clarify any doubts or respond to customer requests. Employees should not only know what each dish contains and how it was prepared, but also how it can be modified, and be able to inform customers that the chef can use it in a dish, such as gluten-free spaghetti. They also need to know which dishes on the menu contain no allergens.
Customers may also be allergic to an ingredient not listed in the regulation and may ask for a dish cooked without it. If the waiter does not know what to do in this situation, he or she should ask the chef to come up with a suitable alternative. The hotel should ensure that a customer who has taken this personal approach will stay safe and recommend the brand to their friends.