Food Allergies- 9 Dos and Don’ts of Dining Out

Whether the thought of dining out evokes feelings of delight or distress, consider these 9 Dos and Don’ts before tantalizing your taste buds for a safer and more enjoyable experience.

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?

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4 Responses to Food Allergies- 9 Dos and Don’ts of Dining Out

  1. Mike says:

    You forgot # 10:

    Take an allergy awareness card with you. Check out http://www.staysafecard.com. We offer beautiful, attention getting laminated cards that communicate the seriousness of your food allergies. You can completely customize the text or write your own text and choose one of our attractive colors. 3 cards are only $9.99. If you have an Amazon Payments or Google Wallet account, buying is a snap and 100% secure.

  2. Well written list, we also give our food allergic children a “gut” reaction out. Meaning if they they simply have a gut feeling the server or chef didn’t get it, we can leave or they can order a soda and we’ll stop somewhere else after the dinner.

    We are firm believers in honoring those gut reactions.

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