Food Allergies & Special Dietary Needs
Harvard University Dining Services (HUDS) makes every effort to accommodate the various dietary requirements of our guests. We are committed to stringent food safety measures and to educating our employees about food allergies and intolerances. While we make every effort to avoid allergen cross-contact (e.g. washing hands and changing gloves between each task, using clean pans/utensils for each new menu item during prep, etc.), there is always the potential for cross-contact with other allergen-containing food items, particularly in our self-serve facilities. HUDS encourages guests to speak to the chef or manager regarding any questions about the ingredients contained in the food they are considering. For those with extreme allergen sensitivity, it is highly recommended to order meals in advance with the dining hall management team via email to ensure your meal is free of allergens. This procedure for accessing meals is commonly referred to as the “email method” and can be set up for you during your accommodation meeting.
What to expect
Our goal at HUDS is to provide you with a safe dining experience that makes it as easy as possible for you to fully engage in the community experience around dining. If you have specific dietary needs and/or food allergies, you should:
- Register with AEO at https://aeo.fas.harvard.edu/
- Attend a meeting with AEO, dining staff, and the HUDS registered dietitian to discuss a plan for you to equitably access dining hall options on campus.
- Stay connected with AEO and HUDS management and provide feedback during the process so we can develop the best possible system to meet your needs!
For more detailed information on what to expect, download our meal accommodations document. You can also email HUDS’ Registered Dietitian, Karen Jew, at firstname.lastname@example.org with additional questions.
Our entire menu is online and we label every dish that contains multiple ingredients in the dining hall. The online menu features the entire ingredient list for a recipe. The labels in the dining halls feature an abbreviated list and include a notation on the bottom designating the top 8 allergens plus alcohol and pork.
HUDS makes every effort to label its food correctly. However, the number of meals served, and the number of items used, makes it impossible to guarantee the accuracy of its labeling. It is incumbent on every individual with specific dietary needs to make those needs known to their dining hall manager. Self-reporting ensures that all parties have access to the information necessary to keep you healthy and safe. It is also your responsibility to check in with your dining hall managers regarding any concerning ingredients. For further information, please speak with a member of the dining hall management team.
THE TOP 8 ALLERGENS
Soy milk, Lactaid© milk, almond milk, and oat milk are available in every dining location but may be stored in separate refrigerators. HUDS uses butter and/or olive oil or canola oil (specifically in the fryers) in its recipes; please check online menus for specific ingredient information to determine the best choice for a milk allergy. Earth Balance spread and dairy-free cheese is also available upon request for those with a medical need, documented with the Accessible Education Office.
Eggs are present in many items throughout the dining halls, including baked goods. Students are encouraged to view labels and check online menus. Egg-free baked goods are available upon request through the AEO dietary accommodations process.
Soy is present in some ingredients used by HUDS. As an extra safety precaution, HUDS labels items as containing soy, including those that contain soybean oil and/or soy lecithin.
Peanut butter is served in all dining halls. Sunflower butter is also available in all locations and is placed in a separate section from the peanut butter to reduce the risk of cross-contamination.
Tree Nut Allergies
Tree nuts are found in the dining hall most commonly in baked goods. The pesto used in all dining locations is nut-free. Items containing coconut oil are also labeled as containing tree nut allergens.
Fish & Shellfish Allergies
Fish and shellfish are sometimes on the menu. Red’s Best Fish is featured on Wednesdays and Fridays, for example. Students with fish and shellfish allergies are asked to check the menus and signage.
Gluten / Wheat Allergies
HUDS soups are made with a gluten-free roux base, although soups with noodles/pasta are made with gluten-containing pasta. Additionally, HUDS uses tamari gluten-free soy sauce in our entrees. Some premade sauces, however, still contain gluten, so ingredients should be reviewed for this possibility.
Menu options that were prepared without gluten ingredients are not labeled with the gluten allergy. However, due to our open kitchens that handle gluten for the preparation of other menu items, we cannot guarantee that items made without gluten ingredients are “gluten-free,” as defined by the FDA. While we make every effort to avoid gluten cross-contact (e.g. washing hands and changing gloves between each task, using clean pans/utensils for each new menu item during prep, etc.), there is always the potential for cross-contact with other gluten-containing food items, particularly in our self-serve facilities. HUDS encourages guests to speak to the chef or manager regarding any questions about the ingredients contained in the food they are considering. For those with extreme gluten sensitivity, it is highly recommended to o order meals in advance with the dining hall management team via email to ensure your meal is free of allergens. This procedure for accessing meals is commonly referred to as the “email method.”
Gluten-free products (e.g. breads, pasta, bagels, muffins, etc.) are available by request for those with a documented medical need, registered with the Accessible Education Office. These items are stored in separate refrigerators, away from gluten-containing products. Separately packaged foods, such as packets of butter, jelly, and peanut butter are also available to replace bulk items that have a high likelihood of cross-contact.