Having a food allergy can transform eating out at a restaurant from an enjoyable trip to a stressful and potentially life-threatening event. You may have minor reactions to certain foods that will cause irritations that ruin our enjoyment of a meal, whilst others may suffer from extreme allergies that can be triggered by trace amounts or cross contamination and can cause life threatening anaphylactic shock.
Whilst true food allergies are rare, many people suffer from some sort of food intolerance or sensitivity to certain food types. These food intolerances aren’t likely to cause life threatening problems as allergies do, but they can cause discomfort enough to ruin your meal.
Most food sensitivity comes from difficulties digesting certain foods. This can lead to abdominal pain, or worse!
If you suffer from a serious food allergy or just have certain requirements to avoid certain intolerances, there are a few things you need to remember when you head out to a restaurant, especially if you are eating there for the first time:
Thanks to the glory of the internet we can now download the menu for our next restaurant trip directly to our smartphones where we can decide what we are going to eat ahead of time. This also gives those of us with food allergies the chance to check which dishes contain any of the major allergens; milk, egg, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, wheat, fish or crustacean shellfish.
Don’t be embarrassed to communicate any allergies you have to your waiting staff, either when you arrive at the restaurant or ahead of time. If they cannot confidently identify which foods do and do not contain certain allergens, get them to find someone who does; all restaurants are required by law to be able to identify every ingredient used in their dishes and most will have a written record of all of this to make sure no contamination occurs.
If you have a severe allergy that means that even the trace of certain ingredients can trigger a reaction, then make sure the restaurant is capable of catering for your needs before you visit the restaurant.
If, after speaking with waiting staff and chefs you still don’t feel comfortable with their answers or their ability to cater to your requirements in a safe manner, don’t be hesitant to leave and find another restaurant.
Always double check when your food arrives that it is actually allergy friendly. During busy times in a restaurant simple mistakes can be made when running food so it is always important that you check your food for any visible signs of your allergens; grated cheese, soy sauce etc. because sometimes these things can be added by mistake at the end of plating up.
Even after all precautions have been taken, sometimes mistakes can still be made and someone with a sever allergy can come into contact with their allergen. If this happens it can be life-threatening, so always ensure you have an epinephrine auto-injector, Benadryl or any other allergy medication to hand during your meal.
Here at Royal Nawaab halal restaurant in Manchester we take extra care to ensure that food allergy sufferers are able to enjoy their meal with us; we clearly display any allergens present in our dishes and waiting staff are always on hand to answer any questions and assuage any fears you may have when you eat with us.