The University of Minnesota Extension School recently launched an interactive online course about food allergies. The class is targeted towards people who handle food – such as employees of supermarkets, restaurants, and schools – and explains how to protect the health of customers with food allergies.

The class, named ‘Food Allergen Training For Food Service Employees,” was launched by food safety educators to address a lack of knowledge, as well as misinformation, that they found among food handlers attending related classes offered by U of M.

As many as 30,000 people visit the emergency room each year for treatment of a severe allergic reaction to food. With up to half of these reactions occurring from food served in a restaurant or other food-service location, according to estimates from the National Restaurant Association, the food allergen course is a timely addition to the U of M food safety offerings.

With food allergies a growing concern, it should come as no surprise that knowing about food sensitivities has become necessary for those handling food. Current Minnesota laws require food handlers to undergo general food safety training. A requirement for specific training in food allergens has been added to a revised code, expected to go into effect in 2012. The U of M course will satisfy this requirement.

The class costs $10; more information or to register for the course.

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