Positioning itself as a ‘Food Allergy-Friendly’ restaurant, IKEDA Japanese Cuisine provides typical Japanese experiences for people with food allergies

The restaurant established a pioneering partnership with the Faculty of Nutrition and Food Sciences of the University of Porto that allows it, through specific and professional training in the area of food allergy in catering, hospitality and tourism, to have the entire IKEDA team prepared to receive, in a comfortable and safe way, those who suffer from this condition. The aim is to actively invest in greater social integration of these people, combating the fact that most avoid eating out for fear of accidental exposure.

Aware of the fact that most people with food allergies avoid eating out, IKEDA Japanese Cuisine aims to facilitate greater social integration of these people, so that they too can enjoy the experience of enjoying the environment and the gastronomy of Japan in Porto, safely and comfortably.

“Greater awareness of this phenomenon came to us following a criticism we registered from a client suffering from food allergies, who alerted us to a series of precautions and procedures that are generally ignored by catering establishments”, explains Tiago Branco, manager of the space.

With this objective in mind, the restaurant established a pioneering partnership with the Faculty of Nutrition and Food Sciences of the University of Porto (FCNAUP) to make IKEDA a Food Allergy-Friendly space by training its staff and implementing tools, safety procedures and good practices that, in addition to providing informed access to the potential presence of allergens in the IKEDA menu, aim to prevent cross-contamination and accidental exposure to these types of substances.

Within the scope of this partnership, the entire restaurant team participated in the first edition of the Food Allergy in Restaurants, Hotels and Tourism Course, taught by teachers from the FCNAUP and FMUP (Faculty of Medicine of the University of Porto) and exclusively aimed at professionals from these sectors. Each element received certified training of excellence in the area, which allows them, in the course of their duties, to contribute, in a proactive and preponderant manner, to improving food safety and the well-being of all IKEDA customers, in particular those who may have food allergies.

Among the set of skills acquired by the team are the identification of the concept of food allergy and the different allergens; the implementation of safety procedures and good practices for the prevention of cross contamination and accidental exposure when preparing meals; the recognition of the clinical manifestations of food allergy and the procedures to adopt in situations of accidental and emergency ingestion; and also the development of strategies for proper communication and service to customers with this type of pathology. Additionally, the restaurant provides in its menu an indication of all the potential allergens involved in the preparation of each dish, in order to allow customers with food allergies to make an informed and safe choice of meals. With the implementation of these measures, IKEDA is now ready to welcome all domestic and foreign customers with food allergies, providing them with comfortable and safe typically Japanese experiences.

“We believe that IKEDA will be a national reference as a ‘Food Allergy-Friendly’ restaurant, where patients with food allergies will be able to find a safe and trustworthy space for their food choices”, says Renata Barros, Assistant Professor at FCNAUP and Coordinator of the Food Allergy in Restaurants, Hotels and Tourism Course.

“Food allergy is currently a global public health problem, with a major impact on patients’ quality of life. Despite the legal provisions, we know that patients with food allergies still find it very difficult to eat out, either because of the difficulty in obtaining properly informed food choices, or for fear of accidental exposure with the occurrence of serious or potentially fatal allergic reactions, such as anaphylaxis. For this reason, IKEDA is to be congratulated for the social responsibility and strategic vision it has shown in wanting to integrate customers with food allergies into its concept of excellence,” he says.

Similarly to what already happens in some countries where ‘Food Allergy-Friendly’ restaurants are a reality, IKEDA intends to position itself as a trustworthy option for this community of customers, thus contributing to fill a gap that still exists in the national restaurant market.