Restaurants and Food Allergies

Posted 9.6.11 | Christine Graham-Garo

In a recent study done in the UK, researchers surveyed restaurants about food allergies and found that most were misinformed.

To give some background, according to the study, deaths caused by food-induced anaphylactic reactions are increasing with most deaths being caused by food purchased outside of the home.

Allergen avoidance is always the most desirable form of prevention. and this is often easily accomplished in the comfort of your home. However, a late soccer practice, or meeting, or simply just wanting to enjoy the cuisine of a favorite local restaurant can make avoidance difficult.  This is because when choosing to eat out the responsibility of allergen avoidance is shared by the diner and the restaurant staff.

The researchers surveyed various restaurants and found that:

·        1 out of 3 kitchens, common food allergens like wheat, nuts, dairy, fish were not separated from other foods.

·        About 20% thought it was safe for an allergic customer to consume only a little of the allergen – and to pick the offending food out of the dish.

Probably the most concerning finding to come out of the research is that 81% of the restaurants reported they could provide a safe meal for allergic customers!

Keep in mind this study was conducted in the UK so similar findings in the US may not be as drastic. But in the world of food allergies, you can never be too careful! So when you eat out always remember it is your responsibility to be proactive and speak up about your allergies.

Also, If you’re looking for more information on dining out with food allergies, you can view our other posts on the topic here: Dining out with Food Allergies. These posts will help you and your family prepare for an allergy friendly dining experience.

- Christine

Study Reference:  Bailey et al. Restaurant staff's knowledge of anaphylaxis and dietary care of people with allergies. Clinical & Experimental Allergy.2010.41(5):713-717

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Food Allergy Living is a resource for parents of children with food allergies, brought to you by Nutricia, the makers of Neocate. For more in-depth information about our purpose & authors, see our About Food Allergy Living page.