Angry Dude Fires Back About Food Allergy/Intolerance Term

When I recently posted about what restaurants did wrong in 2013, folks in the allergy/celiac community flooded my inbox with their own horror stories.

Did I hear from anyone in the food industry? Nope. Not a peep.

However, Dine Aware, a company that trains and certifies restaurants in understanding and addressing special dietary needs, sent me their new video. Thrilled to see a company making a difference for those of us with food allergies, intolerances, celiac disease and other eating issues, I tweeted this last Saturday evening:

Within minutes I got an unexpected response from an angry dude in the UK.

Tell me that FAI doesn’t stand for Food Allergy Intolerance . . . not  to get on my high horse but shit like that is the reason people don’t take allergies seriously.

Huh? It took me a while to figure out what Angry Dude was so worked up about. (Words of wisdom: Do not debate on Twitter when you are cooking dinner and late for a hockey game.)

Apparently, Angry Dude doesn’t like Dine Aware’s use of the term FAI.

Referring to allergies and intolerances as one and the same makes me angry, which I assume fai stands 4 . . . I think making up dodgy acronyms for anything just sounds a bit twee/lame :-/  . . . what’s going to get a sterner message across to the food/service industry?   . . . “You can kill me” or “you might make me feel rough for 3 or 4 days”?

Yikes! According to Angry Dude, we have to tell restaurants we will die to get them to leave off the cheese or the breadcrumbs or the __________ (fill in your allergy or intolerance here).

Though Angry Dude said he has food intolerances himself, I got the impression he didn’t think intolerances were on an even playing field as life-threatening allergies. I’ve run into people like him before. And not to get on my high horse, but . . . even though my allergies and my kids’ intolerances won’t kill us, we deserve to eat in restaurants and in campus cafeterias without getting sick! My oldest son’s intolerance to dairy won’t kill him, but a reaction will make him horribly sick and he’ll probably miss a day of work. Eating a smidgen of soy will cause my esophagus to painfully constrict, making me feel like I’m choking. A couple croutons in a salad won’t kill my youngest son or me, but gluten will wreak havoc on our bodies and can cause serious consequences, possibly death, in the longterm.

I told Angry Dude as much.

He held his ground. The term FAI watered down the message to restaurants and would be sneered at, he claimed.

Giving myself a few days to calm down, I re-watched the video this morning. Three woman–a young professional whose social life is impacted because she can’t eat out, one who lost a daughter to anaphylaxis, another who feels anxious to eat in restaurants–speak eloquently and clearly. Those of us with dietary restrictions worry when we eat out; a Dine Aware “seal of approval” would give us the confidence to frequent restaurants. Good for the food industry, good for the consumer.

The acronym FAI doesn’t make the message less effective.  I hold my ground, Angry Dude.

Angry Dude Fires Back About Food Allergy/Intolerance Term originally appeared at Adventures of an Allergic Foodie.

7 thoughts on “Angry Dude Fires Back About Food Allergy/Intolerance Term

  1. legislation comes in in December this year that says all places that serve prepared food to eat in or take away have to have undergo training for all their staff and show on their menus clearly all the of the 14 top allergens. I came across this site the other day which explains a bit more for those that dont know about this.
    It is long overdue, we knew it had to come, but when my grandsons allergens can kill then then I think it will take a while for some of us to trust places but time the next generation come along then they should be sorted.


  2. In the United States we have a really long uphill battle with the issue of food allergies and intolerance. Depending on who you encounter in a restaurant, you will get varying degrees of empathy and consideration for your food sensitivity. I fall into a challenging category where I have more than one intolerance and a potentially dangerous allergy, so I have to have a conversation with the waitstaff about ingredients before I order. I have found that these conversations are never consistent, meaning that despite the waitstaff being professional and polite, there is a full spectrum of understanding about food sensitivities. I have had amazing waitstaff double and triple check my order to make sure nothing sneaks through, and even invite me to ask for them by name on my next visit. Other times I have received food covered with the offending products after specifying explicitly why I cannot have these products on my food. I know that sometimes there is a disconnect between the waitstaff and the kitchen, but I have also encountered waitstaff who forget that I asked for no cheese and croutons, and when my “new” salad comes back, it is obvious that the cheese and croutons were just scooped clumsily off the top. Restaurants would definitely get more patronage from those with food sensitivities if they were willing to train their staff in better customer relations. It is a lot for the staff to remember, but if it means preventing customers from becoming ill (and even taking potentially deadly risks with food) then it could be quite beneficial.


  3. PaulaCooper says:

    Reblogged this on Inside Paula and commented:
    An Allergie Foodie recently shared our video and received some feedback from one of her followers on Twitter that she wrote a post about:

    These are my thoughts:
    Our goal is accessibility of awareness. Period. To do this you need to make the material and message as memorable as possible. The use of this acronym to teach staff and communicate with the public does not minimize the seriousness, just the opposite in fact. . If people remember the content they are more likely to respond appropriately. Like it or not acronyms work. ~Paula


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