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Take 10 - F&B Trends: Forecasts Versus Reality With Tracy Stuckrath

Tracy Stuckrath answers additional questions from the 06.28.17 F&B Trends: Forecast Versus Reality webinar.

1. What was the name of that company that helps you donate food?

Rock it and Wrap it Up is an an award-winning anti-poverty think tank that researches, discovers and nurtures potential donors who have renewable assets to share — meeting planners and hotels with excess food from events. The organization works with meeting planners and their hotel or convention center partners to glean excess food from events and facilitates the delivery to those who need it, and simultaneously preventing it from ending up in landfills. You can find out more at or check out their food donation one sheet here.

2. We were aware of a participant's food allergies (peanuts) and we informed the hotel at our event. The participant decided to eat a cookie that was included with other cookies that did include peanuts and he had a reaction. How accountable is the planner or the hotel? I feel the participant needed to be more careful or should the planner have asked for the peanut cookies to be served separately?

I’m not a lawyer, but it seems to me that everyone dropped the ball in this situation. You and the hotel were aware of his food allergies. What information did you provide the attendee about the food being served on the buffet? Were the cookies clearly labeled that they contain peanuts? When you are aware of attendees with allergens, the safest and least liable option is to create a separate platter of those items and clearly label everything. Do not put them next to each other. You could even provide the attendee a separate and individual plate of cookies instead. Yes, the attendee is responsible her/himself and for what s/he puts in his mouth, but you and your caterer are also responsible for providing a safe and inclusive environment, especially since you were aware of the allergy well in advance. It certainly isn't best practice to put peanut and non-peanut cookies on the same platter when there's a known allergy.

3. Be conscience of drug policies for people who are at your events on their work time, even in states where cannabis is legal.

Most definitely. When hosting meetings in states which have legalized cannabis, you need to be conscious that some of your attendees may use or eat it while in the state. If you choose to add cannabis edibles or products, be aware of corporate policies, be sure to clearly label the food items and inform your attendees in advance. While partaking in cannabis may be legal, serving to others adds another level of accountability and duty of care you have for your attendees.

4. What are top eight food allergens?

The top eight foods that cause 90 percent of all allergic reactions around the world are wheat, soy, milk (dairy), egg, fish, shellfish (crustaceans), peanuts and tree nuts. The U.S. Food Allergen Labeling Consumer Protection Act requires by law that these foods be identified on packaged foods. In the European Union, EU 1169 regulation requires the top seven of the top eight plus an additional seven (cereals containing gluten, lupin, celery, mustard, sulphur dioxide, mollusks, sesame seeds), to be labeled on any food served directly to a consumer whether it is pre-packaged or unpackaged.

5. I would like the sample verbiage that you use for the hotel contracts - that would be great.

Adding contract clauses to your catering contracts about managing food allergens is important to ensure the safety of you attendees. Additionally, adding information on how your managing food safety is important to inform your attendees as well. You can download some sample contract clauses here (

6. Are there typically up charges for specialty milk and food items?

Some processed foods that fall under certified gluten-free, allergen-free and/or vegan may have additional costs to them, but that cost should be rolled into the overall cost of producing the menu as a whole. Since eating and all of our bodily functions (e.g., immune, digestive cardiovascular systems) were added to the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act in 2008, it is illegal to discriminate against a person with disabilities (food allergies, celiac disease) and that would include charging a fee to accommodate the need. Therefore, an up-charge to create an allergen-free or gluten-free menu items is not plausible, unless there is an undo burden on the chef to produce it. An undue burden would not be a few extra dollars to produce the meal.

7. What vendor was used to create the ice cube with the logo inside?

Ice Bulb ( created the logo inside the Ice cube I showed in the presentation.

8. How easy is it to use jackfruit in a meeting/buffet setting? That stuff is outstanding with BBQ sauce!

Using jackfruit is a great option for creating menu items for vegans, vegetarians, and meat-lovers alike. It of course depends on the chef and if s/he is willing and open to doing so. Here are some delicious looking recipes from PETA for jackfruit.

9. By doing the food donation, how will that help save you money on your budget?

Managing the reduction of food waste is what will really save your budget. Having accurate counts for each of your food functions is a start. If your meals are not mandatory, ask your attendees which food functions they will be attending. Work with your hotel partners to monitor arrival and departures - some attendees may not arrive in time for your opening reception or may depart before the last day. Also asking for attendees dietary needs helps reduce foods being prepared and going uneaten. Kosher and halal meals can be quite expensive, especially if they go uneaten. If you someone requests a kosher or halal meal, ask them if they need a certified kosher meal or are they OK with one that follows the basic dietary rules of that religion. There are some people who are flexi-kosher, as described to me by a Rabbi.

10. Who do you call about food donations if the facility doesn't have a program?

If your hotel does not have a food donation program already lined up, I’d reach out to Rock and Wrap it Up to see if they have partners in the city and let them handle it all for you. Be sure to include your intentions of making food donations at the contract stage so your catering partner is aware. You can also contact the local food bank or search for non-profit food rescue organizations in the area, such as Second Helpings.

Click over to page 2 for some additional bonus Q+A with Tracy Stuckrath.


11. Do you find chefs are willing to make different pastas like Zucchini and Sweet potatoes?

More and more chefs are becoming willing to do such dishes. Be upfront with them when your planning the menus and ask for creative items. Make sure these items are outlined on your BEOs so it does not get lost or forgotten in the menu preparation stage. All it takes is a spiralizer to do make it.

12. What can you recommend to change the standard chicken meal?

Chicken is safe and budget conscious protein to serve everyone since pork is avoided by many following a religious based diet, others have allergies to fish and shellfish and beef can get pricey. However, it can get a bit boring as the standard fall back. Talking to your chefs about being creative with chicken is the first step. Let them know what you’ve served in the past and what you do not want to serve. Adding seasonal vegetables to the meal can help.

13. What is flexitarian?

A flexitarian is an individual who chooses to reduce the amount of animal protein they consume on a daily or weekly basis. Another term for it is reducetarian. Think Meatless Monday (no animal proteins on Monday) or VB6 (eat vegan before 6 p.m.). Offering these types of dishes can help reduce food costs at meeting and events. But, you also need to make sure they are hearty meals.

14. Could you please put the "Note here if you have a food allergy and we recognize the need to create a safe environment for you, etc." on your website? It's the wording she said to put on the registration.

Letting your attendees know how you’re handling their needs is important too. As is, letting them know that while you’re working with your catering partners to create safe and delicious meals for them, you cannot guarantee that the storage, preparation and serving environment is not a certified-free from environment. Click this link ( to download sample clauses your event websites.

15. Did she just mention fish skin?

Yes, I did mention fish skin. Although made from fruits, vegetables or grains, brewmasters, distillers and winemakers may filter their beverage item to remove proteins, yeasts, cloudiness, “off” flavors and colorings, and/or other organic particles. These “fining agents” used before bottling may be made from animal-derived products. Common fining agents derived from animals and used in the production of wine include egg albumen (derived from egg whites), casein (milk protein), blood and bone marrow, chitin (fiber from crustacean shells), fish oil, gelatin (protein from boiling animal parts), and isinglass (gelatin from fish bladder membranes). Check out for a directory of vegan and vegetarian alcohols to serve at your next event.

16. I think hotels should re-evaluate portion sizes as they over prepare so much even over the standard 5%.

Agree! Portion sizes in the United States are excessive. This exacerbates health issues we have and adds to excessive food waste. Knowing your numbers and how much food was eaten at past events, you can help chefs better plan for your event. Let them know in advance that you want smaller portion sizes and be sure to order five to 10 percent less than the number of people attending, especially if a buffet. If serving plated meals, take into account the percentage of no-shows from previous events and look at hotel arrival/departure dates of all attendees to help calculate. 

Still the age-old question comes up - what is the best way to determine quantities for groups?

Agree! Portion sizes in the United States are excessive.

17. Any suggestions on how to have the conversation with hotels about food counts? Seems like there is always so much food, but it's challenging to get hotels to serve less (and help reduce waste).

Agree! Portion sizes in the United States are excessive.