Restaurants and Food Allergies – A Problem?
I have been allergic to dairy products among other things for quite a few years. So when I visit restaurants, I always politely request “no cheese, or sour cream.” The next thing you know I get an entrée with a cream sauce on it. Most food servers don’t even know that this contains dairy products!
Since the menus are never explicit about exactly what the allergen ingredients are in the entrees, I will ask the food server if a certain dish has dairy products in it if I’m not sure. Sometimes I’ll ask if it contains something else I am allergic to. They automatically look at you like you are the pickiest person on the planet! Then I have to explain that I am allergic to dairy products and other certain ingredients. They will get a concerned look, and tell me that they will talk to the chef to find out what is in the entrée I am questioning.
They usually come back to the table and explain that the chef doesn’t know what is in some of the sauces or ingredients because they are sent to them pre-packaged or bottled. So I sometimes take a chance and order an entrée thinking that it is okay. Even tarter sauce for fish sometimes is made with sour cream, even though I like it made with mayonnaise and I’ve had to stop eating it after trying it out.
One time I ordered dinner that I was allergic to unknowingly and immediately I started getting a reaction and had them take it away, I then just ate the bread that came with the meal. I was very pleased when they took my order off the bill, but it could have been avoided in the first place if they would have been more knowledgeable about the ingredients.
I really appreciate the fact that it is now mandatory that the allergen ingredients are listed on most all types of products in the grocery stores! Especially when the label plainly states that the product contains milk, instead of having to read through the long list of ingredients that often list milk as “whey” or “casein.” When you are allergic to dairy products especially, it is always wise to learn the different terms for dairy because not all products are plainly written on the food labels. Some products say “dairy free” on the front label but the ingredients label lists casein, so the labels need to be checked thoroughly.
While we are on the subject of food labels with allergen information, a thought comes into my mind (okay…I’ve been thinking about this for a long time!) Why aren’t restaurants required to list the allergen ingredients plainly on the menus next to the entrée description? Are we allergy sufferers asking too much?
I guess if I didn’t have food allergies, I wouldn’t really care whether the restaurants did or not. But if a person does ever experience what it feels like having an instant food allergy reaction or some of the “soon to follow” reactions, they would really want this information on all restaurant menus.
How extremely nice it would be to not have to bother the food server, and have a dinner where I wouldn’t have to be worrying whether or not, I am going to pass out, have difficulty breathing or worse!
Food allergies are more and more common everyday. I am for getting this valuable information on all restaurant menus! When will this happen? Soon I hope.