Safety + Inclusion = Revenue

Eating at a Meeting Podcast Episode 115

Safety + Inclusion = Revenue

Smiling woman close-up

What do you get when you provide a safe dining experience for someone with food allergies? An inclusive experience in which everyone can enjoy a meal with together without anyone going hungry.

If you are a #foodservice outlet or an #event, adding those two types of experiences together — safety + inclusion — you gain potential for increasing your revenue. You see, individuals with #foodallergies and other dietary needs are VERY loyal.

Debbie Bruce, founding member and current Director of the Canadian Anaphylaxis Initiative (CAI), can attest to that herself. For the past 30+ years she has collaborated with community partners, businesses, all levels of government and advocacy groups to draw attention to anaphylaxis issues and to improve the everyday safety, inclusion and quality of life for the 3 million Canadians living with Anaphylaxis.

Her background in the packaged goods industry (production, purchasing and marketing), collaboration with community partners, and as the mother of two boys with multiple food allergies, she has seen how being improved safety measures, menus that offer options for everyone and can lead to higher profits.

Listen as Tracy and Debbie discuss how creating safe and inclusive dining experiences can improve the bottom line.

What do safe, inclusive & sustainable food and beverage experiences look like to you?

It’s all in the language. If I am told “we can’t guarantee” your meal is safe – I know they don’t truly care enough to take the necessary extra care. Although my oldest son was living in New York – he and his fiancé decided to get married in Toronto. They looked after the wedding caterer-but, I was in charge of the rehearsal dinner for 20 people with the added pressure of life-threatening allergies. We had eaten at the CN Tower-360 Restaurant a few times and they had been excellent with my sons’ allergies. I called the chef at the CN Tower-and they were absolutely incredible. They worked with me on a special set menu-free of peanuts and nuts- with 1 vegetarian option. This way, we were sure no one would order something that would put the groom and his brother at risk. The chef also made a point of making 2 or 3 desserts in house so he was sure they were peanut/nut free- including butter tarts…my son’s favorite. It was so special. Many of the guests were from out of town…NYC, California, Australia, Pittsburg. They had an amazing view of the City of Toronto – as well as they airport they had flown in to. Everyone was thrilled – and I tell everyone who comes to town they should eat at the 360 Restaurant at the CN Tower. Those with allergies are very loyal customers.

Do you have an example of a situation that negatively effected you and/or other individuals or groups’ food and beverage experience?

I have many examples. My son was interning at an advertising agency in downtown Toronto. He had an anaphylactic reaction after eating lunch at a restaurant he had eaten at many times. He started to feel unwell after eating a meatball sandwich. He knew he was having an anaphylactic reaction but couldn’t figure out why. He phoned the restaurant to ask what was in the sandwich. It turns out they had made the meatballs with peanut butter and didn’t tell anyone. His auto injector malfunctioned (not EpiPen) and he needed a second injector. It was a very scary 24 hours. Once you’ve experienced a reaction, it is common to suffer PTSD. fear of eating…trust issues….anxiety. The restaurant would not return any of my phone calls.

What is a best practice you use/or have seen to create safe, sustainable, and inclusive F&B experiences?

I believe it’s important to call or visit a restaurant, conference centre – any venue – ahead of time to explain our allergies and ask for suggestions for safely eating there. And to not ask for anymore than you need. Staying safe is all about relationship building…Those who are motivated to make a difference, will work with you and find a way to help.

What do you wish people knew about what you do?

Food is such an amazing – fun way to connect with people. I wish people knew how much implementing simple solutions to reduce risk means to all of us. We tell everyone – we drag everyone in our entourage to those places who go that extra mile so we can all be safely included.

Just for fun…What is your favorite food and your favorite drink?

I have several favorites. Pizza is the perfect food! I love Eggs Benedict… Seafood Pasta…anything made with lobster…and butter tarts. My favorite drink is Diet Dr. Pepper or a bubbly wine.


Connect with Debbie —   LinkedIn  |  Website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter

Check out other featured guests on the Eating at a Meeting podcast.

Eating at a Meeting is part of the Nitty Grits Podcasts network