Food Service Hints
Do you operate a commercial kitchen? Here are some suggestions, not only for LI folks but also for food allergies in general.
  • Dairy products are a part of our diet. More and more people are sensitive to these and other food-based allergens such as tree nuts, certain fruits and vegetables, and some grains or grain products.
  • You can't realistically eliminate these ingredients from your menu, but you can make your menu more allergen-friendly. Sure, it's a hassle, but it's smart business too. Why? because people with food sensitivities will come back if they have a problem-free dining experience in your restaurant.
  • All ingredient lists for all menu items need to be accessible to the staff. Any pre-prepared foods also need their ingredient lists accessible.
  • An ingredient matrix for your menu might make finding suitable choices faster and easier. Menu items on the rows, allergens across the columns.
  • Your staff needs to be sensitive to the needs of people with food sensitivities. They may be prickly to serve, but they're only looking out for themselves. Nobody wants to get ill from eating. If you can avoid this by asking the right questions, you're way ahead of the curve.
  • Your staff need to take this seriously because it is serious; sometimes deadly serious. In the worst case, they could be creating work for a hungry lawyer.
  • In the kitchen, collateral contamination is one of the big problems. Saute pans with milk residue from a cream sauce, tongs used to handle shellfish then used to handle chicken for someone with shellfish allergy, etc. It might be a good idea to have separate tools for this.
  • Pre-prep saves time, but it limits options for patrons with food allergies. Maybe prep for the masses, but keep a few plain versions around that can have secondary ingredients added at serve time.
  • When possible, serve cheese on the side.
  • If you're a hamburger stand, why buy buns with milk in them? Although milk extends their shelf life, if your buns are sticking around long enough that their shelf life is an issue, perhaps you have larger problems to deal with?

The Short List

  • Some foods just can't be made without milk. Identify them.
  • If cheese is just a garnish, such as on spaghetti or in a salad, serve it on the side.
  • Read the labels.
  • Be aware of where milk can be hidden. The DFL is insidious and sneaky. You wouldn't expect to find lactose as an ingredient in Asian foods. Maruchan Cup-o-Noodles has it, so do some of the Nissin flavors. Some Teriyaki sauces have it.
  • Remember that a mix with nonfat dry milk that you just add water to amounts to containing milk.
  • It doesn't matter what animal it comes from, lactose is still lactose.
  • Lactose reduced products work for some people and not for others.
  • Peas and Lima Beans convert to a form of lactose during digestion. They cause trouble, just like a glass of milk does.
  • Wash rice before cooking, especially if it is labelled no wash rice.
  • Remember that butter is usually OK for most of The Afflicted (ask).
  • Margarine, unless it is Nuccoa brand, has whey added to it.
  • Many breads contain milk.
  • Dessert ices can hide milk because of collateral contamination.
  • Crutons usually harbor milk because of the bread. Sometimes there may be embedded cheese flavorings.
  • Food coatings (like fry mixes) often contain milk.
  • Soaking things in milk leaves milk on them.
  • Cooking milk makes no difference.

These are the terms that we know of that indicate milk.

  • Milk, Cream, Yogurt
  • Whey, whey powder, milk sugar
  • non-fat dairy solids, non-fat dry milk
  • Natural Flavors (could indicate one of the above)
  • Cheese, cheese solids, cheese food
  • Margarine (because of added whey)

These items are safe:

  • Sodium Stearol Lactylate
  • lactic acid
  • eggs, chicken, fish, or other.