Your Attendees' Dietary Restrictions Won't Break Your Budget

Food AllergiesOver $54 billion is spent on food and beverages at corporate meetings and events every year, according to the Convention Industry Council.

More than 15 million people in the US have food allergies.

That's a lot of food and a lot of food allergies.

When planning your event and event menu, you're legally obligated to provide safe meals for your attendees.

However, sometimes those specialty meals can cost more than standard meals -- so how do you make sure you are accommodating your attendees without ruining your event budget?

The Top 8

With so many food allergies and special diets, (not to be confused with fad diets), it is difficult to keep track of them all.

Familiarise yourself with common dietary restrictions, including the top eight food allergies: eggs, dairy, wheat, shellfish, fish, peanuts, tree nuts and soy. It's these eight foods that are responsible for nearly 90 percent of all of allergic reactions, so be mindful of them when constructing your menu!

Ask During Registration

To avoid any potential problems, ask your attendees if they have any dietary restrictions during your registration process.

Include the list of the above eight most common allergies and also leave a comment section for attendees to add in other foods they need to avoid.

Communication is key to pre-empt any surprises at your event, and your attendees will be thankful that you're taking the time to ensure their health and safety.

If your event consists of multiple sub events, customise a registration form for attendees to inform you of which specific event they will attend.

They may not intend to go to certain events where meals are served, so knowing this information beforehand is crucial so you don't purchase unnecessary meals.

Set Boundaries

Be specific in your registration form and remember to ask your attendees for dietary restrictions and not just food preferences.

If you ask only for food preferences, you'll end up with a custom order for every meal.

Vegetarianism is technically a food preference, but many follow this diet for religious, personal, or medical reasons.

In addition to the top eight, ask in your registration form if your guests would prefer a vegetarian or vegan option or depending on the event, a kosher or halal-certified meal.

Set boundaries with your attendees and inform them that any special request not indicated on their registration form will not be honored.

By letting your attendees know in advance the importance of including their dietary restrictions on the registration forms, this will limit the number of on-site special requests.

Not only will this help you work with your vendors, but it will also eliminate any additional costs or last minute meal requests.

Try a Buffet

If creating individual meals for your event proves to be too difficult or too costly, try a buffet with different stations based on dietary restrictions.

Label all foods and display their main ingredients or which diet the dish would be suitable and have a banquet captain or staff member help direct guests with dietary restrictions to their appropriate tables.

It is imperative to avoid cross-contamination when serving attendees with allergies.

Not all allergic reactions occur from ingesting food, but can actually occur simply by touching. Make sure your vendors keep a clean kitchen and use separate dishes, pots, and pans when preparing all foods.

A Few Extra Measures

If the food vendor at your venue cannot prepare special meals for your attendees, don't immediately seek other vendors.

Instead, try using nearby restaurants to accommodate your attendees and issue gift certificates.

Or consider companies that ship and create healthy and allergy-free snack boxes to your event or select attendee's rooms.

But to be on the safe side, it's never a bad idea to keep a first-aid kit close by with an epinephrine injector (epi pen) and allergy medications like Benadryl. This way, you'll be prepared for any type of allergic reaction!

By taking the time to ask the right questions and communicate with your attendees, you'll be able to avoid any potential disasters at your event, including going over budget.

Source : http://blog.attend.com

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