1. DO Your Homework
Review the restaurant menu online prior to arrival or call to inquire about food preparation/ingredients during a slow time for the restaurant, such as in between meals.
2. DO Speak with the Chef or Manager
Upon arrival, ask to speak with the manager or chef about safe food selections and possible food substitutions.
3. DON’T Assume a Food is Safe
Your nose doesn’t always know! Don’t rely on sight or smell to determine if a food is free of an allergen. Always inquire about the ingredients and preparation surfaces.
4. DO Take Epinephrine Auto Injectors
Even if you have dined out at the restaurant numerous times, always take along at least two doses of emergency medications in case of an accidental exposure.
5. DON’T Feel Obligated to Stay
If the restaurant staff is hesitant about providing safe food, rude or if you simply do not feel that they can accommodate your food allergies/restrictions, choose another restaurant. There are plenty of restaurants that respect and are willing to accommodate their guests with food allergies.
6. DON’T Assume All Chain Restaurants are Equal
Chain restaurants often have similar or the same menus, however the level of food allergy awareness may differ from restaurant to restaurant. Additionally, restaurants may purchase products from different vendors with varying manufacturing standards. Always inquire about food ingredients.
7. DO be Cautious of Buffets
While some buffet workers and managers are very careful, the chance of cross contact is particularly high given the design of buffets due to food spilling over into adjacent dishes and patrons exchanging utensils between dishes. You may want to eat from stations that are separated from others, get food when it first comes out or ask your server to bring your food directly from the kitchen.
8. DO Bring a Safety Stash
Particularly if you have young children, consider bringing a small stash of safe food for them to eat as their meal or to supplement their meal.
9. DO Try to Eat at Non-Peak Hours
When the kitchen is extremely busy, there is a higher likelihood of cross contact or miscommunication. It is often best to dine during non-peak hours, especially when visiting a new restaurant, so that the chef or manager has more time to spend with you in order to deliver a safe meal.
Do you have any dining Dos and Don’ts to share?