Buffet Table Labels – What Should They Include?

by Stacy DeMarse in Trends at August 18, 2016

Selection of colorful food allergy labels including gluten, nut, dairy, sugar and egg free

As an event planner, it is my job to meet with the hotel to develop the menu and discuss potential food allergies my attendees may have.  The very first thing I discuss is always buffet table labels and I am constantly amazed and the lack of knowledge hotels have about what these labels should include. The first response I receive is always “we label all our buffets”.  My response is “with what”, because there idea of a label and mine are two different things!

Typically hotels label their buffets with what the items is.  For example: Grilled Chicken.  That does not tell my attendees who have a dairy allergy anything!  At almost every conference we have attendees with gluten, diary, shellfish and peanut allergies that need to be addressed a nd they should be able to easily cruise through the buffet and enjoy a meal just like those without food allergies.  However my attendee with a dairy allergy can’t, because they are unaware if the chicken was prepared with butter or milk?

The way we at DeMarse Meetings avoid this is my insisting that hotels use our labeling system.  We require that each food label include if the item is or is not included in the preparation of the dish.

Ö means the meal includes the allergen

F means it does not DF=dairy free

Why would we have to put it down if it is not included you ask?  So many times a labels are placed that the hotel has forgotten to put allergens for, and if some are labeled “includes dairy” and others are not, then our attendee with a dairy allergy assumes those that don’t have anything listed are dairy free.  Over 30% of the time that is not the case!

Below is a list of the labels we typically include.  If we have an attendee that lists an additional allergen during their registration process we add that to our growing list!






Tree Nuts






How do you ensure in advance that everyone with allergies has enough of a variety to eat?  Making sure your menu’s accommodate those with food allergies means much more than just labeling the buffets!  Check back next week for more details.