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StudentChefEclipse

Food Allergy Guidance

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Splendid new guidance offered by the FSA recommends that food retailers take more responsibility for informing customers of the possible presence of allergens.

I'm interested how the maths on this adds up. We're already used to entire planeloads of people being denied nuts in case a single individual with an undiagnosed nut allergy should suddenly discover it in flight but how much more responsibility for separate allergies can retailers be expected to bear?

The growing allergy lobby obviously considers this a matter of life and death.

Why is it assumed that catering for allergies is like catering for real disability, ie legislation should ensure that the genuinely disadvantaged should not be discriminated against. Surely it should be more akin to coat theft where clients are gently reminded that looking after themselves is their own responsibility.

At what point does it make more sense to put a sign in the window saying "The management apologise but they take no particular precautions concerning food allergies".

It would clearly save many more lives


Tim Hayward

"Anyone who wants to write about food would do well to stay away from

similes and metaphors, because if you're not careful, expressions like

'light as a feather' make their way into your sentences and then where are you?"

Nora Ephron

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Not really sure where I stand on how much responsiblity should be expected to be borne. What I do know is that it was not good to go to a restaurant recently, to be urged upfront on the menu to inform them of any allergies and they'd take care of it, to tell them my guest was coeliac, and then have biscotti served with the creme brulee.

All I'm saying is, if restaurants say they care, they better know what they doing. Otherwise your final suggestion would indeed be preferable

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All I'm saying is, if restaurants say they care, they better know what they doing.

That seems absolutely right to me.

But your experience seems to indicate a restaurant that simply didn't have the info or the wherewithal to back up the offer they felt they had to make.

Obviously, as businesses offering food to the public, restaurants are the ones most likely to be sued if such a thing should actually occur, but it does seem that individuals with a potentially life threatening allergy are far more capable of managing themselves when going out than this sort of advice gives them credit for. Is it not patronising to assume that someone with a food allergy cannot be trusted to manage their own condition. "Label everything because the tiny number of people who can be killed by their food are really too dim to make that clear when eating in a public place".

As a matter of interest, I'd love to see some stats for the number of people who die of food allergies in restaurants per year. I think allergy sufferers are more clever and grown up than they're getting credit for.

Surely an allergy sufferer walking into a restaurant is going to be like a haemophiliac at a knife juggling convention... Somewhat attuned to his surroundings.


Edited by Tim Hayward (log)

Tim Hayward

"Anyone who wants to write about food would do well to stay away from

similes and metaphors, because if you're not careful, expressions like

'light as a feather' make their way into your sentences and then where are you?"

Nora Ephron

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and then have biscotti served with the creme brulee.

Not exactly criminal negligence when the coeliac can clearly see it's a biscotti though. It's not as if they've hidden a load of breadcrumbs under the salad leaves.

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A repairman once tried to sue my grandmother for slipping on the ice on her entryway. Her response was, "I'm an old lady and I saw the ice and I was careful. He should have been more careful." End of story.

No one and no establishment can possibly prepare and cater to every single food allergy and food avoidance issue, it's not possible.

The allergy sufferer must be proactive. I can't eat chocolate, I watch what I put in my mouth.

If the coeliac affected person can't control themselves around a biscotti, is that the fault of the restaurant? Not in my opinion. They are in s a restaurant, not a health clinic.

We are living in an era where personal responsibility is not our personal responsibility anymore.

Sorry for the strongly voice opinion, but this is something that just punches my buttons. And the people who claim 'allergy', when they really just don't like something are the worst of the lot.

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and then have biscotti served with the creme brulee.

Not exactly criminal negligence when the coeliac can clearly see it's a biscotti though. It's not as if they've hidden a load of breadcrumbs under the salad leaves.

No, but bloody awful service.


Edited by BertieWooster (log)

It no longer exists, but it was lovely.

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and then have biscotti served with the creme brulee.

Not exactly criminal negligence when the coeliac can clearly see it's a biscotti though. It's not as if they've hidden a load of breadcrumbs under the salad leaves.

No, but bloody awful service.

And I'm sure such a thing could never happen at The Modern. :wink:


Edited by martinwa (log)

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Not exactly criminal negligence when the coeliac can clearly see it's a biscotti though. It's not as if they've hidden a load of breadcrumbs under the salad leaves.

Indeed - being British, we didn't even complain. But it does make us wonder whether we can believe assurances on other ingredients and that they haven't thickened a sauce with flour or whatever. Which takes us back to Tim's points - and he is right that it is allergy sufferers who should and do take the bulk of the responsibility, but they should also expect plain dealing.

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i heard the 'no nuts will be served on the plane' speech for the first time last week, and it did more irk me than command sympathy, fair enough if you've forgotten your epi-pen but surely it is the punters responsibility to take care of themselves?

you've got to wonder where it will all end....


you don't win friends with salad

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My fiance has severe allergies to nuts, seeds, beans, corn and all related oils and extracts. Dining out with him is like playing Russian Roulette, particularly in restaurants where English is not the primary language spoken. When we order Chinese take-out, he asks what oil they use to fry in. If it's "all vegetable oil" (blessedly, he's not allergic to soybeans), we order and take our chances. If he experiences no adverse reaction, we go back. It's unfortunate and a huge pain in the ass, but necessary if we ever want to eat something other than what I've cooked myself. We understand it is our responsibility to avoid his particular allergens, but would absolutely love it if restaurants would be willing to share a list of exact ingredients with diners who request them. It's almost shocking that, in our litigious culture, this is not already mandatory, but I suppose it would be damn near impossible to police.

On a side note, Wegman's (excellent grocery store nearby) has a Chinese cafeteria-style take-out section, and its chef personally walked my fiance through the ingredients of all the dishes he could and could not have. It turned out that there were, like, three safe dishes (including plain white rice) that he could have. I reminded him that, since he only ever asks about cooking oil at other restaurants, that he has no idea what he's eating half the time and has to rely on his physical reaction to foods to know whether or not they are safe for him to eat. Not a great system at all. Were it not for the battery of allergy medications always coursing through his veins, he might have reactions all the time, and much more severe reactions at that.

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would absolutely love it if restaurants would be willing to share a list of exact ingredients with diners who request them.  It's almost shocking that, in our litigious culture, this is not already mandatory, but I suppose it would be damn near impossible to police. 

the problem at the 'lower' end is if they've bought product in they don't know what's in it.

The problem with 'proper' food prep is you can't guarantee complete separation of preparation, If you make bread on site for example there will likely be traces of flour everywhere, whizz up some nuts, same problem. You could say roughly what's in it but can't guarantee it hasn't got 'contaminated' somewhere down the line. It is unworkable.

It must be hard suffering with the allergies but to put the burden of proof onto the restaurants is not fair, there's enough bureaucracy as it is with current health and safety measures to strangle a small enterprise.


Edited by Gary Marshall (log)

you don't win friends with salad

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My fiance has severe allergies to nuts, seeds, beans, corn and all related oils and extracts.  Dining out with him is like playing Russian Roulette, particularly in restaurants where English is not the primary language spoken.  When we order Chinese take-out, he asks what oil they use to fry in.  If it's "all vegetable oil" (blessedly, he's not allergic to soybeans), we order and take our chances.  If he experiences no adverse reaction, we go back.  It's unfortunate and a huge pain in the ass, but necessary if we ever want to eat something other than what I've cooked myself.  We understand it is our responsibility to avoid his particular allergens, but would absolutely love it if restaurants would be willing to share a list of exact ingredients with diners who request them.  It's almost shocking that, in our litigious culture, this is not already mandatory, but I suppose it would be damn near impossible to police. 

On a side note, Wegman's (excellent grocery store nearby) has a Chinese cafeteria-style take-out section, and its chef personally walked my fiance through the ingredients of all the dishes he could and could not have.  It turned out that there were, like, three safe dishes (including plain white rice) that he could have.  I reminded him that, since he only ever asks about cooking oil at other restaurants, that he has no idea what he's eating half the time and has to rely on his physical reaction to foods to know whether or not they are safe for him to eat.  Not a great system at all.  Were it not for the battery of allergy medications always coursing through his veins, he might have reactions all the time, and much more severe reactions at that.

This completely bears out the experiences of other allergy sufferers I've spoken to (some family, a few friends and several I've interviewed formally over the last few months).

They get 100% of my sympathy, total support when I'm cooking for them or eating with them and, as far as I'm concerned, they deserve medals for working with people to deal with the situation.

I'm checking through my contacts with allergies now and I'm not turning up a single one who doesn't find the FSA suggestions patronising and unnecessary. Interestingly, several have pointed out that this kind of thing also undermines the sympathetic support they get from food retailers and fellow diners that makes it possible to function.

It's making them angry too.


Tim Hayward

"Anyone who wants to write about food would do well to stay away from

similes and metaphors, because if you're not careful, expressions like

'light as a feather' make their way into your sentences and then where are you?"

Nora Ephron

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i heard the 'no nuts will be served on the plane' speech for the first time last week, and it did more irk me than command sympathy, fair enough if you've forgotten your epi-pen but surely it is the punters responsibility to take care of themselves?

you've got to wonder where it will all end....

To be fair, obviously there are degrees of nut allergy. My three year old is allergic to nuts (and egg), and there was an occasion recently when I ate some cashews then absent-mindedly kissed her without having wiped my mouth first; she developed a rash within five minutes.

Luckliy she's pretty sensible about her allergies and in any case we never go anywhere without an epi-pen so that we can inject her if anything happens.

However, just being near nuts doesn't harm her, and certainly I wouldn't be worried about nuts on a plane (unless they were trying to blow it up...)

On the other hand, I know another child who is so much more severely nut-intolerant that simply being in a room with nuts will make his throat start to swell, and if he ingests even a piece of one he would probably die. Not sure that an epi-pen would help much unless he could be got to hospital quickly as well.

It seems reasonable to me (and does actually happen) that when he flys somewhere the other passengers should have the position explained to them be asked to be understanding about not be served nuts on that flight. I think that this would be a more reasonable approach than a blanket ban on nuts on planes.

As parents of a child with food allergies, it's obviously our responsibility to check on ingredients when we go out, and we tend to avoid any "bought in" food unless we can see the packaging to check the ingredients. I have to say that everywhere we eat out both FoH staff and chefs are incredibly helpful about the issue.

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If someone tells me they have allergies I am very conscientious about checking ingredients etc, so far as bringing a packet of hash browns out to a customer on one occassion to check the ingredient list.

I certainly don't want to be responsible for someone dying on me, or have someone collapse wtih anaphylaxis.


www.diariesofadomesticatedgoddess.blogspot.com

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With regard to the plane/nuts situation I think they just want avoid the worst case scenario of someone dying on a flight, potential litigation and trauma for everyone on board etc. Makes sense.

They just need to stop the pissed up air rage brigade now :blink:

" may day, may day, we have a nutter on board, armed to the teeth with KP special roasted...help."


In the long run...we are all dead (J M Keynes)

Heston's Disneyland for Sexless Fortysomethings...(Naebody)

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So what happens if the snack I have brought aboard with me contains nuts? I can't eat it? Will I get sued if someone with a nut allergy has a reaction?

I have no problem with warnings on labels or asking the chef but if your allergies are so severe that you cannot even be in the same room then maybe you need to figure something out.

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So what happens if the snack I have brought aboard with me contains nuts? I can't eat it? Will I get sued if someone with a nut allergy has a reaction?

I have no problem with warnings on labels or asking the chef but if your allergies are so severe that you cannot even be in the same room then maybe you need to figure something out.

Like people choose to have such severe allergies?


Cheryl

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People do have to be proactive but the suppliers have to be concientious. (sp?)

I have an acquaintance who is severly allergic to eggs. She bought a bread product from a well known chain grocerie's deli. The label did not say eggs on it although it did have them so she had an allergic reaction.

She didn't sue but needless to say she doesn't go to that store anymore.

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So what happens if the snack I have brought aboard with me contains nuts? I can't eat it? Will I get sued if someone with a nut allergy has a reaction?

I have no problem with warnings on labels or asking the chef but if your allergies are so severe that you cannot even be in the same room then maybe you need to figure something out.

Like people choose to have such severe allergies?

No I don't for one minute think we choose to have these allergies but I do think that once we are aware of them we need to understand that we cannot make the world safe for us so we must make ourselves safe from the world. In other words, my food allergy should not impact your right to enjoy your food.

It is much more difficult where children are involved but even when my son was (mis)diagnosed with coeliac disease I never once thought that it was anyone else's responsibility to keep him safe. Cooperation was encouraged and appreciated but no one else was held responsible for his well-being.


Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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My son has multiple, life-threatening food allergies.

The only place I would ask for someone to not eat the things that he's extremely sensitive to would be on a plane. While he does fine in a restaurant, movie theater or sports venue with people eating peanuts, shellfish or nuts around him (as long as he's not touching/inhaling lots of debris from the food), I'm not terribly comfortable with the same thing in a flying tin can full of recycled air.

I wouldn't equate asking for a peanut/tree nut free plane flight with eating in a restaurant. In a restaurant, if you don't feel "safe", you can leave, you can get fairly prompt medical treatment via 911, and you don't have to breathe the same recycled air as 100 people who opened their nut packages simultaneously.

My son dreams of travelling some day. I'd hate to tell him that he's going to be limited to places he can get to only on trains, buses or by car.

On a day to day basis, yes, it's my job to keep him safe, but it would be nice to know that he'd be able to safely take a trip on an airliner.


Cheryl

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I have no problem with others eating whatever they wish, wherever they wish, because, for me, what they eat does not trigger an allergic reaction. But I don't have a legume or nut allergy, and those are the most severe because airborne particles can, indeed, kill you.

MomOfLittleFoodies is spot on about recirculated airplane air. It can distribute the pathogen to an allergic individual and cause severe reaction. Even if a life-saving dose with an EPI kit is administered, there is the possibility that it may not be enough. Occasionally, the symptoms improve only to return more severely within a few hours. This is why you have to get to a hospital after an injection, so you can be monitored for six hours in the event you need intervention. The special circumstances of airplane travel prevent an immediate trip to the hospital, thus compounding the potential danger.

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i heard the 'no nuts will be served on the plane' speech for the first time last week, and it did more irk me than command sympathy, fair enough if you've forgotten your epi-pen but surely it is the punters responsibility to take care of themselves?

you've got to wonder where it will all end....

Well it is much cheaper for the airlines to stop serving nuts and serve those other rather odd snack things. So they are happy to help. I remember when BA took the cashew nuts out of the mixed nuts in First Class. They saved a fortune annually.

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So what happens if the snack I have brought aboard with me contains nuts? I can't eat it? Will I get sued if someone with a nut allergy has a reaction?

I have no problem with warnings on labels or asking the chef but if your allergies are so severe that you cannot even be in the same room then maybe you need to figure something out.

if you ever saw a child have a reaction to peanuts you would not even pose that question .....you would keep your nuts in your pocket and not open them on a plane where no one has a choice to breath the nut dust or not..this is one thing I am in full agreement with ...kids die of reactions to nuts ..some out grow this ..some don't and some folks develope nut allergies in the midst of a peanut butter sandwich ...this is not one of those "overreactions" this is a fact


why am I always at the bottom and why is everything so high? 

why must there be so little me and so much sky?

Piglet 

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i heard the 'no nuts will be served on the plane' speech for the first time last week, and it did more irk me than command sympathy, fair enough if you've forgotten your epi-pen but surely it is the punters responsibility to take care of themselves?

you've got to wonder where it will all end....

The problem is that sometimes 1 epipen isn't enough. I was told this by a nurse who was explaining to me why I should carry more than 1 epipen when I go out with my younger daughter. She had her first allergic food reaction that was more severe than a little itchy lip. We went out to a chinese buffet (oh the horror!) We hadn't been there in some time since she is now willing to eat a lot more types of food then her picky self used to eat. (But that's another story) She ate all the stuff she used to eat and then got itchy, then got sick in the parking lot, then got itchier then got covered in hives from her neck down her whole torso.

We gave her benedryl, which did the trick and her breathing/airway was never affected. I have no idea what she reacted to since she had no tree nuts in her food. the doctor told me I could have used the epipen and taken her to the ER. But then the nurse told me that if you are farther from a hospital the 1 epipen might wear off and you would need a second. So someone who was flying would have to carry a large supply in case they reacted to those sneaky peanuts.

so it's really so bad for you to have to do without peanuts?

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I just received an email from guest who is supposed to come to the restaurant this weekend. Here is her list of allergies:

aspergillus niger, brewer's yeast, cow's milk products, egg whites, oats, tuna, baker's yeast, barley, beans (kidney or soy) beef, casein, cashews, cilantro, corn (meaning maltodextrin & dextrose, too), gluten, lemon, millet, peanuts, shrimp, walnuts, wheat, whey, bananas, ginger, safflower oil, chicken clams, codfish, dates, egg yolks, gluten, honey, oats, orange, parsley, pineapple, pistachio, plums, raspberries, sage, shrimp, sunflower seeds, vanilla, walnuts.

and YES she is a vegetarian and she only likes cooked food (no salads) and she hates mushrooms. Life in the restaurant world! Any thoughts folks?

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