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Planning Your Event: Food Allergens

Skip to: Special Dietary Needs at Catering EventsHow to Request an AccomodationSpecial Dietary Needs & External Vendors

Special Dietary Needs at Catering Events

Brown Catering is committed to meeting the needs of guests who have special dietary restrictions (such as a food allergy, intolerance or other medically restricted diet) and recognizes that many of our guests may also adhere to a vegetarian or vegan diet.
Brown Catering Event Coordinators are able to safely and reasonably guide event planners in booking events and making menu selections which can accommodate their guests. In most instances, food allergies and intolerances can be managed independently at events, however, please note:
  • Brown Catering does not label all allergens at catered functions.
  • With advance notice, Brown Catering can generally accommodate guests who must avoid the most common food allergens, as well as gluten.
  • Please review our Notice to Customers to understand our policies and procedures around handling and identifying allergens in our recipes and on menus.
  • Brown Catering is unable to accommodate individual dietary preferences. Dietary preferences can be made directly to the event planner. It is the event planner's decision to modify the event menu based on guest preference.
  • Brown Catering is unable to accommodate for therapeutic diets (i.e. diabetic diet, cardiac diet, renal diet, etc.)

How to Request an Accommodation

Step 1: Event Planner: Have your food allergic guest(s) complete form

Event planners must submit a formal request (Catering Event – Guest Allergen Form) to your Brown Catering Event Coordinator for each guest requiring a meal accommodation. These must be submitted no later than 10 business days from the event date.
Why should the guest(s) complete this form? The event planner assumes responsibility for the accuracy and completeness of information provided to the Catering department. As the guest is the one who truly understands his or her needs, in order to avoid mishandling of a special requirement, Brown Catering strongly suggests that event planners guide guests to complete the form themselves. Additionally, Brown Catering is unable to accept requests submitted through other means.

Step 2: Event Planner: Gather and submit all forms

The Guest Allergen form(s) should be collected by the event planner who will submit them to the Catering Event Coordinator, along with the Catering Service Order Request, at least 10 business days prior to the event date. Brown Catering is unable to accommodate requests received less than 10 days prior.

Step 3: Guests identify themselves at the event

Events with Catering service staff
  • If a guest has submitted a written request within the required timeframe, they should self-identify to a Catering Manager at the event.
  • If a plated dinner is being served, the Manager or designee will hand-deliver the special meal to the guest.
  • If the event is self-service or buffet style, the Manager or designee will either hand-deliver a special meal to the guest or provide the guest further instruction.
  • In the event a food-allergic guest for whom an advance formal request was not submitted identifies a special need at the event, the guest will be notified that a special meal is not available.
    • The guest should use discretion and independently select items from the menu which they believe are safe to consume. Please review our Notice to Customers. Brown Catering does not label all allergens at catered functions and service staff does not have a details list of ingredients available on-site.
  • Brown Catering is unable to handle special meal preparation requests on-site.
Events without Catering service staff
  • Brown Catering is unable to assume responsibility for events where special dietary accommodations have been made and where Catering service staff is not present. (Examples of this are: Delivery Only or Express Delivery services).
    • Event planners or on-site contacts should receive the delivery, which will include a properly- labeled special dietary meal, and hand-deliver to the guest(s) for whom you requested a special accommodation.

Special Dietary Needs & External Vendors

Through its normal business process, Brown Dining Services may approve orders through an external vendor (see list of qualified vendors) Brown Catering’s food allergy procedures do not carry over to another vendor’s services, and Brown Catering does not assume responsibility for another vendor’s product or service. In the case of a guest with a food allergy, intolerance or other medically restricted diet, we suggest you contact the vendor directly to answer your questions or concerns. The following guidelines may help to ensure the safety of you or your guests when working with an outside vendor.
  1. Reach out to the Manager or point person for the respective restaurant or catering service to get a sense of their menu offerings, how they label menu items and how they handle special dietary requests.
  2. Speak with the Manager about placing orders for guests with special dietary needs and to what level they are able to accommodate.
  3. If they are able to accommodate, feel free to ask how a specially prepared meal flows through the operation and arrives to the guest. Know your responsibility as a guest when items are being served. For example, informing the server of your needs.
  4. Inquire as to whether the restaurant has a food allergen management plan in place and if the chefs are specially trained to modify meals to be free of particular allergens?
  5. A restaurant should be able to supply, upon request, a list of ingredients for a menu item. It’s possible that if a meal is prepared off-site, ingredient information is not available.
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