Working Together to Avoid an Allergic Reaction

How do you feed a conference full of food allergic people?

One of the steps The South Point in Las Vegas took for the Food Allergy Bloggers Conference was listing the ingredients in the food served in the buffet line.

Food Labeling in Buffet

This labeling made eating easy–and safe!  But such attention to detail doesn’t always happen when those of us with food allergies eat in restaurants. In fact, studies have shown:

* 24 percent of restaurant staff believe consuming small amounts of allergens are safe;

* 25 percent believe a fryer destroys allergens; and

* 25 percent believe it is safe to remove an allergen, such as shell fish or nuts, from a finished meal.

Scary, isn’t it?

Dr. Lama Rimawi, founder of Tasterie, and Nona Narvaez, founder and executive director of Anaphylaxis and Food Allergy Association of Minnesota,  offered some terrific ideas for those of us wanting to eat out and for the folks making and serving our food.

For Restaurants

*  The most important statement you can make to a food allergic person is:  I don’t know.  It’s okay if you don’t know what’s in a product used in a dish, but it’s critical to be honest.

* Training your staff.  There are three different companies that certify food allergy training.  At least one person with food allergy training should be in the restaurant when food is being prepared and served.

* Listen to your customer!  Communication is essential.

For Consumers

* If you withhold information from restaurant staff regarding your dietary restrictions, the food establishment cannot accommodate your needs.  Seems obvious, doesn’t it?  But many diners are too embarrassed to communicate their food allergies.

* A good restaurant is going to send the chef to your table.  If they don’t, ask to speak to the chef or the manager.

* If you or a loved one has a reaction, report it to the restaurant. If that initial call never gets made, there is no tracking of the allergic episode.

* The FDA Food Code is a model code that assists governmental agencies to develop their own food safety rules. The model code is produced every four years, the last one being in 2009, and takes into consideration the best of food science to keep the public safe.  To find out what your state’s regulations are, contact your state health department.

8 thoughts on “Working Together to Avoid an Allergic Reaction

  1. Would you be interested in writing a guest blog post on our Tasterie Blog? I would love to hear your review of the conference as a spectator. ( or even just repost this post on our own blog) If so, send me an email at katy@tasterie.com Thanks so much!

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  2. Wondering if we even met each other in the sea of happy foodies. I’m Kim AKA The Cheeky Celiac. Due to unexpected and NON-food related health issues, I missed the morning sessions on both days. Did my best to meet everyone but….. Anyhow, I would love to connect to discuss your opinion of the FDA ruling some time.

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  3. I am so glad someone took pictures of the FABulous food!

    I had one of those “I don’t know” moments last night at a restaurant. It was a fixed price menu for restaurant week, and so it included dessert. There was a chocolate mousse on the menu. The waiter told me none of the desserts were gluten-free, so I asked about the chocolate mousse. The answer was that they hadn’t made it in house and so they had no way to know for sure it was safe. I love eating there because they totally get it!

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  4. What a terrific restaurant, Colette. I, on the other hand, had a bad experience last night. My trusted restaurant–they actually have my allergies posted in the kitchen!–served me a salad with blue cheese (dairy is one of my allergies). Huh? We always have to be on the lookout, don’t we?
    Reading your cookbook . . . I’m going to attempt some cookies for when the college boy comes home for Thanksgiving. I’ll let you know how it goes.

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