Dietitian Profile: University of Colorado, Boulder

  1. 1. In what ways does your foodservice team care for your special diet students? What measures do you take to ensure safety?
    1. At CU Boulder we utilize an allergen labeling system called A9 Identified®.  This means that we label our foods  in person and online for the top 9 allergens (milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, soybean, and sesame) as well as gluten.  We also label for several food preferences: Vegan, Lacto-Ovo Vegetarian, Pork, and Alcohol.
    2. In addition to allergen labeling, our staff members are trained on preparing and serving food as to prevent cross contact.  If a customer however still does not feel comfortable with a food that is offered on the serving line due to the potential of cross contact with other foods, we are more than happy to pull fresh product from our warmers and coolers and prepare a fresh dish for them.
    3. Our Chef De Cuisines and above; including our dining managers receive training from myself through Menu Trinfo’s  AllerTrain U® food allergy training program.  This training ensures that these staff members are thoroughly trained on how to: Serve students’ various needs by being able to:
      1. Recognize symptoms of an allergic reaction and how to react in an emergency situation.
      2. Implement proper preparation, serving, and cleaning procedures in the dining halls in order to prevent food reactions from occurring.
    4. Team members that complete the AllerTrain U® training are then able to pass this information on to their front-line staff on a regular basis.
    5. In addition to labeling foods in the dining halls and training staff on the importance of proper preparation practices, we do offer Libby On The Run Dining Hall.  Libby is completely wheat, gluten, peanut, and tree nut free.
  2. Do you see a need for more allergen free food options in the C&U foodservice industry?
    1. Most definitely.  CU Boulder is certainly not alone in offering allergy friendly meals.  However, I feel that there is still a long way to go across all college campuses.  Many campuses are just getting started on creating an atmosphere of allergy awareness in the dining halls.  For those universities who have a great allergy awareness system in place, there is always room for improvement.  I know that I am not alone in seeing an increase in students with food allergies and Celiac Disease.  Therefore, all college campuses will need to continue to improve on their allergy friendly offerings in order to accommodate the increasing number of students with special dietary needs.
  3. Do you have a favorite special diet menu item that you serve at your dining hall?
    1. I’m not sure that I can pinpoint just one special diet menu item that is my favorite.  We have such a wide variety of amazing tasting allergy friendly options available that it is hard to choose just one!
  4. Is there any tips or tricks you would give to a Dietitian that is looking to improve their special diet food options?
    1. I would say to simply  start by looking at what you currently serve.  Are there ways to make those items more allergy friendly, yet keep their quality by switching out a few ingredients? 
    2. Getting staff buy in is also very important.  Use the talents of your chefs.  Allow them to be creative and work on some allergy friendly menus while still working their magic of creating amazing food.
    3. Getting student feedback.  This is invaluable.  Listen to your students.  You can’t always do everything they ask, but  they often do have a lot of good ideas that you may be able to implement.  They also have “insider information” on what their fellow classmates are looking for as well.
    4. Make sure that your staff is thoroughly trained on proper food preparation and serving in order to prevent cross contact and keep customers safe.