o_0"...focusing on New York City and Long Island, Sicherer found that about a quarter of managers and workers believed that consuming a small amount of the allergen would be safe; 35% believed that frying would destroy it; and a quarter thought it was safe to remove an allergen from a finished meal, like taking walnuts off a salad. Nearly three-quarters of food workers felt that they knew how to "guarantee" a safe meal. Most states do not require that food providers attend educational programs, and there are no national requirements..." -Jerome Groopman
so you can see how people are still exposed to their allergens. We can't live in a bubble. I know that during the time that I was temporarily gluten-free, eating at a restaurant was the primary cause of me getting sick. Even today, I tend to feel sick after restaurant food because of the strange things they put milk in.
So, because I don't like presenting problems that I do not have a solution too, here is my 22 year old naive and dimwitted version of a solution:
Like Groopman states, restaurant employees should be required to attend education classes on the following curriculum:
1) what types of food allergies there are (the common ones [peanuts] and uncommon ones [sesames] )
2) how to know what foods these allergens are found in, and sometimes hidden in.
3) Learn how to properly guarantee that cross-contamination has not occurred.
4) learn how to correctly complete someone's meal when they make the effort to tell you (the waiter, manager, or chef) that they are gluten, dairy, egg, or peanut free. OR anything else.
I know there are a couple restaurants that are catching on pretty nicely. Examples off the top of my head include "Outback Steakhouse" that has a gluten-free menu, Uno Pizzeria that has a gluten free pizza, and "Red Robin" who does not have a separate menu but have been more than accommodating to provide alternate menu choices.
The best "company" that I have ever seen accommodate food allergies is Disney. When travelling to disney, I personally met with chefs so that they could personally guarantee my meal was gluten free, and show me what to order. Even on the fast food lines, it was well-advertised what was and was not gluten-free. It was heaven for allergenics. If only all restaurants could learn from Disney...heck, if all companies could learn from Disney, we'd all be a lot better off in more ways than one.
Restaurants need to pick up on this fast growing....trend? problem?...pretty quick or they will not survive in business the next 10-20 years. Not only are there many people with real and serious allergies that could experience an anaphylactic reaction, but more and more people are making the choice to remove dairy and gluten from their diets, to better their lifestyle. It is becoming more and more popular with adults, as well as young children suffering from autism and ADHD.
Just two years ago when I started gluten-free, unless it was in my imagination because I was "new to the field" it was not easy finding gluten-free products. And when I did find them, they tasted like cardboard. Now, in just two years, not only do supermarkets like Wegmans and WHole Foods make allergenic-shopping a pleasant experience, but ShopRItes "LiveRite" section also makes it easy and enjoyable too. The term "gluten-free" is all over the Internet and in ads everywhere (even on my Facebook page). I have two favorite products, special "K-toos" cookies that are gluten, dairy AND peanut free, and special pretzels that are dairy, gluten, soy, and egg free which is amazing. AND they both TASTE really yummy.
SO thats my exceedingly long post on allergies. But no really, try and read the article if you can. It was fascinating. Lots of good information..As always, thanks for reading.
~A Writer in a Nurse's Body
Meeting with Dietitian