Coping With Dietary Requirements

By Boardroom editors

When strolling through buffets at events, you probably notice signs next to the salads and sandwiches that weren’t there in past years: “Lactose-free,” “dairy-free,” “nut-free,” and “gluten-free.”

Such dietary requirements are something planners and venues deal with every day.

As a way to help, IACC, in collaboration with the World Obesity Foundation, has created a Guide to Managing Conference Delegate Dietary Requirements.

“Last year, when I asked a room of 200 meeting planners if managing dietary needs was a challenge and 75 percent or more raised their hands, I knew immediately that we needed to do more as an association and industry,” IACC CEO Mark Cooper said.

According to the report, “In recent years, meeting planners from the around the globe, participating in IACC’s Meeting Room of the Future research, education sessions and forums, are highlighting a significant increase in dietary and allergen requests from their delegates. Many planners reported events where over 50 percent of the delegates provide personal dietary and allergen requirements during registration.”

Additionally, new research from IACC, which surveyed 50 venues across four continents, found that 79 percent of venues say they receive more dietary requests now than they did two years ago.
Included in the guide are the difference between dietary requirements and allergen-related requests, details on various diets, and advice and tips, such as ensuring meal requests are collected at the initial registration stage of an event.

“This is just the beginning and we hope that in the near future we will see more training and certifications to support the competent management of dietary needs,” Cooper said.

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