We would like to explain to you our approach to managing allergens, and the risks that remain for anyone with a serious allergy.
The bottom line is this: the thought of causing harm to anyone with allergens keeps us awake at night and drives us to constantly review how we manage the processes in our kitchens and in our suppliers – yet despite this it is not possible to guarantee that our products will always be allergen-free.
We’ve always communicated on our website and in our Foodie Fact Sheet that we handle allergens, but the awful shock of recent events has given us even greater cause for concern.
We review our processes, and the processes of our suppliers, very carefully. We only work with trusted suppliers with robust procedures and checks, and we regularly visit their farms, plants and kitchens to verify that their processes comply with the strictest Health & Safety regulations. This includes a product test for allergens. We check all these records before we allow any products or ingredients into our kitchens.
When these products and ingredients reach our kitchens, we have strict kitchen processes that segregate these ingredients. But we do handle allergens: we use almond butter in our Ruby Red Porridge, peanuts in our satay sauce and sesame in our hummus; and we cannot promise that this segregation is 100% guaranteed.
When ingredients are in the same kitchen it is impossible to guarantee that your dish will be allergen-free. There is always a very small risk that an allergen in the building will end up in a dish it’s not meant to be in.
Let’s take LEON porridge as an example. We serve porridges with a choice of milk: organic dairy milk and organic cashew milk. Both are potentially fatal allergens. The porridges are slow cooked and stored in separate bain-maries and we use different coloured ladles for serving it into pots. The pots are passed from the kitchen to the counter through different shelves on our hot pass. All our teams receive extensive training on how to manage this allergen separation process, and everyone understands the severity of the smallest mix up. It is very rare, but even the best people with the best training, processes and intentions can make mistakes.
Despite the huge focus we put on processes and training and checks therefore, there is no guarantee that dishes are free from allergens. This is not because we take a lax approach to allergens. It is because we cannot guarantee – 100% – that mistakes will not be made.
The idea that LEON could cause harm to one of our guests is horrifying. And we would therefore ask those of you with serious allergies, to consider carefully whether you choose to dine with us.
We appreciate how frustrating this must be for you, but nothing is more important than your safety. Which is why we will unashamedly continue to tell as many people about this in as many ways as we can.
If you would like to speak to us in more detail or have some thoughts on how we can manage any of this difficult communication better, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.