Having a night out with your friends can be a lot of fun. But there are a few things to keep in mind before heading out in order to eat safely with food allergies. With a little bit of planning, allergies don't have to limit you from dining out safely and having a great time. Here is a brief video from Anaphylaxis Canada:
Food allergy and restaurant meals - these tips can save your life
High risk places include:
- Asian restaurants
- ice cream shops
The issue is often cross-contamination and unexpected ingredients in desserts and Asian food.
Use common sense - it would be difficult for person with a seafood allergy to have a safe meal in a restaurant that specializes in seafood.
Buffet services should be avoided due to cross-contact risk.
Restaurants employees have poor understanding of food allergy issues.
In a simple telephone survey (5 true/false questions about food allergy) of 100 restaurants employees (managers, servers, chefs) in the New York City:
- only 22% answered all 5 correctly
- 50% felt "very comfortable" they could provide a safe meal to a food-allergic customer
- 24% indicated that consuming a small amount of allergen would be safe
- 54% considered a buffet safe if kept "clean"
- 25% thought that removing an allergen from a finished meal (eg, taking off nuts) makes it safe
Conclusion: Patients should not assume that restaurant personnel understand food allergy.
Source: Food-allergy management from the perspective of restaurant and food establishment personnel. Ahuja R; Sicherer SH. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2007 Apr;98(4):344-8.
Tips for Dining Out with Food Allergies
- identify that you have an allergy to the the cook, rather than the waiter/waitress
- carry pre-printed cards about which foods cannot be eaten
- deep fryers (oil is reused for different foods) should be avoided
Allergenicity of refined vegetable oils is extremely low (http://goo.gl/EzUgp).
Food Allergen Avoidance
Peanut and tree nut allergic reactions in restaurants and other food establishments. Furlong TJ; DeSimone J; Sicherer SH. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2001 Nov;108(5):867-70.