Over 30 million American suffer from some kind of food allergy. That is 10% of the total US population. Under normal conditions, this is difficult enough for the sufferer as well as for the food service entity liable for the health and well-being of its customers.
However, normal is a term that has recently become italicized under the umbrella of coronavirus effects. Until the act of going out for dinner returns to the in-person care and hospitality of the not so distant past, frenetic outdoor dining and home delivery seem to be the new norm for a good while.
One drawback of this more impersonal approach to dining out is that those with food allergies might not have their requests so clearly stated. Likewise, without looking into a customer’s eyes, and hearing the phrase “I am allergic to tree nuts,” it becomes all too easy to mismanage an order, let alone one that might be life-threatening. For the restaurant, this could have major legal repercussions.
Enter CertiStar, a solution-based software that provides those who already have food allergies with the ability to dine out or in safely and easily. Using a database platform, allergic diners can create a profile that lists those ingredients that must be avoided.
The specialized menu indicates, based on the customer’s individual profile, which dishes are safe and which are not. Certistar provides a more personalized dining experience for the customer with allergies, the ability for restaurants to boost revenue, profit, and daily efficiency, and the opportunity to secure loyal customers who will return with trust in a staff that is trained to address the unique needs of the allergy-challenged customer.
Shandee Chernow, President and CEO of Certistar, a severe food allergy sufferer herself, launched her company in 2017 after a lifetime of not knowing how she would react to any food that passed her lips.
Understanding the plight of others in her position, and seeing how such delicate and potentially life-threatening navigation of standard menus has wide-ranging effects on companies and customers alike, Chernow revolutionized the hospitality playing field with the colors of yellow green and red.
The concept is simple. The restaurant and Certistar create a partnership, the menu is reconfigured within the Certistar software, the customer enters the foods he/she cannot eat, and all menu offerings become indicated with a green bar (indicating the food is free of that ingredient), yellow (indicating the item can become allergen friendly with recipe modifications), and red (indicating the item if unsafe for that customer). Like a traffic stoplight, Certistar menus help avoid unforeseen accidents on the hospitality highway.
Chernow reinforced that a “food allergy person has particular trouble while traveling, especially in a resort or cruise where eateries are limited or at least restrictive.” With fewer options, not only is the legal liabilities more tenuous, but also the guest experience will be likely less than satisfied. In addition, using the digital menu for pre-orders or orders at the table streamlines the process, saving time, money, and frustration.
Many hospitality concepts that found application within the new normal will fade as we return to normal, but Certistar is one of those concepts that transcends the tragedies of the time and will continue to enhance the hospitality experience for food allergy sufferers and business owners alike.