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08/16/2021

On Fazoli’s Menu: Allergen-Safe Dining

QSR teams up with CertiStar to provide an interactive menu that meets the dietary needs of guests.
Anna Wolfe
Senior Editor - Restaurants
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For guests with food allergies (and parents of children with food allergies) dining out can be wrought with questions and anxiety – not only for the guests but also for the employees. 

Fazolis has streamlined the process of identifying allergens in menu items, making it easier for all guests to easily and confidently select appropriate menu items, with the help of its new technology partner CertiStar.

 

Fast Fact

According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, about 10% of U.S. adults and 8% of children have one or more food allergies.

In an effort to provide a simpler and more reliable approach to accommodating life-threatening food allergies (as well as special diets), CertiStar has taken food industry and food allergy data and paired it with smart technology to create an easy-to-use web platform that helps restaurants manage their menus, recipes and inventory.

How it works:

A restaurant uses Certistar’s web app to set up their recipe info.  From there, CertiStar calculates all allergens. For example, if you use peanut butter in a sauce, all items made with the sauce would be flagged for a peanut allergy. 

From there, that information is accessed via an API interface to the order interface to general food information sites – such as the brand’s website, online ordering site and any third-party marketplace sites.    

“It was a short integration,” said Wayne Pederson, CIO. “It was done in a matter of weeks. In terms of integrating with our recipes, it was very simple on the CertiStar integration end.”

Fazoli’s online and dine-in menus include CertiStar’s features. Guests can view a fully interactive menu that helps them find items that fit their dietary and allergy needs.

Recipes and all their ingredients are in the purview of Rick Petralia, Director of Culinary Innovation. When you think of all the variables, such as sides and sauces, Fazoli’s easily has a couple hundred recipes that had to be programmed into CertiStar, Petralia explains. 

 

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“Fazoli’s has always shared nutritional and allergy information with guests,” he added. “We decided to partner with CertiStar to take this process to the next level and give our guests even more transparency in selecting their foods. While our previous method served its purpose, it didn’t give guests the opportunity to discover menu options that would work for their allergies outside of the eight major allergens.”

CertiStar goes through each ingredient and their allergen statements to identify 170+ potential allergens.

Before the CertiStar integration, the food allergen section was the most visited part of the Fazoli’s site, he added. Customers’ emails to Fazoli’s about ingredients or possible allergens in a menu item go to Petralia. Two or three times a day, he receives questions about whether an item includes nuts or dairy, he said.   

“A PDF (identifying items with the top 8 allergens) is not enough anymore. We have a best-in class solution that identifies 170 possible allergens."

Not only does CertiStar simplify allergen identification and disclosure for the Fazoli’s team, more importantly it gives consumers the ability to find this information – online, in the mobile app and at the in-store kiosk  – in real-time, noted Pederson.

CertiStar also identifies those lesser-known ingredients that can trigger allergic reactions. “Corn is hard for me to figure out,” said Petralia. “I go to a website to see what contains modified food starch. CertiStar picks that up and shows it as a red flag. It is often made from corn.”

“A PDF (identifying items with the top 8 allergens) is not enough anymore. We have a best-in class solution that identifies 170 possible allergens,” said Petralia. 

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a house that has a sign on the side of a building
Fazoli's guests can view a fully interactive menu that helps them find items that fit their dietary and allergy needs.