Statutory framework for The Early Years Foundation Stage state:
"Where children are provided with meals, snacks and drinks, they must be healthy, balanced and nutritious. Before a child is admitted to the setting the provider must also obtain information about any special dietary requirements, preferences and food allergies that the child has, and any special health requirements. Fresh drinking water must be available and accessible at all times. Providers must record and act on information from parents and carers about a child's dietary needs."
It is particularly important if a child has a dietary intolerance/allergy that a diet sheet is provided by the parents/carers for the setting.
This information must be disseminated to all staff, including new staff and visitors, and used in menu planning to ensure children do not receive food which they have an allergy/intolerance.
Parent partnerships are vital in ensuring children are protected from identified allergens. Both parents/ carers and the setting must work together to make sure they know and recognise all the different names for an allergen.
Staff ordering and preparing food must also be vigilant about reading all ingredients of bought products, as well as changes in suppliers and items marked "new recipe" on packaging.
More information i.e Food allergy and intolerance: search at www.food.gov.uk and "An Introduction to Food Hypersensitivity" available from www.infantandtoddlerforum.org as a fact sheet for professionals.
Settings may provide a high proportion of a child's food and drink intake, as well as encouraging children to eat something for the first time. Settings should be aware of exactly what children are eating and when, in case an allergy is triggered for the first time.
There are many symptoms of a food allergy, some are mild reactions and some can be more severe including a rash, itching of the mouth, wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath, diarrhoea and sickness, swelling of the lips and tongue.
These can occur immediately after eating or coming into contact with an allergen or sometime after. If you think a child could be suffering from an allergic reaction contact parents/carers immediately. Write down what they have eaten, when the reaction occurred and anything else that might be relevant in assisting with a diagnosis. Expert medical advice should always be sought when dealing with children and allergies.
Remember also if your setting does cooking and food preparation with you children please ensure that you check the ingredient that are available. So that children with food allergies/intolerance can take part.