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Allergies and eating out - SAFELY

What happens when you find eating out is the most confusing and sometimes dangerous activity we can do. If you ask anybody suffering from an allergy, or sensitivity they will have many stories of how they "ate the wrong thing" or "how the staff didn't understand what they meant by allergy or sensitivity"


How can you make it easier?

Firstly it is important to differentiate between an allergy and an intolerance.

An ALLERGY is an immune system response when exposed to a food. The most common foods that cause an allergic response are peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, milk, fish, shellfish, sesame and soy. An allergic response happens quickly after the food is consumed and may cause swelling, a rash, vomiting, nausea, problems with breathing, or in the worst case scenario - Anaphylaxis

A FOOD INTOLERANCE is where a food will cause symptoms, commonly gastrointestinal-type symptoms but does not involve the immune system. A food intolerance is often caused by chemicals naturally present in foods and the symptoms can take from hours to days to be noticed and quite often the food is not considered the cause if symptoms take a long time to a

Four steps required to safely eat out if you have an allergy:-

1. Choice of Restaurant

2. Communication with staff

3. Check your meal when it arrives

4. Enjoy your evening

Choosing the restaurant

  • Check whether the staff understand your allergy and that it is potentially life threatening

  • If possible discuss your allergy with the chef and perhaps have a suitable meal pre-ordered

  • Ask about cross-contamination

  • Make sure everyone understands the implications if you accidently consume something you are allergic to

Communication with staff

  • Talk to the staff, and if you have any concerns, try to make sure you discuss your order with staff in front of someone who can witness your conversation

  • Find the most responsible member of staff available when asking if your order is free from the allergen

  • Listen carefully to the reply

  • Try to encourage staff to write down that the dish should not have any contact with the allergen for example "nuts"

Check your meal when it arrives

  • Don't be afraid to move things around on the plate to look for evidence of contamination

  • Be prepared to be the last person in your group to receive their meal

Make sure you enjoy your evening

  • Most of all, whilst there is no doubt that an allergy or intolerance can cause sickness or in the case of a serious allergy, can result in the need for emergency attention. i

  • if you are unsure about the ability of a food establishment to take your requirements seriously, then it is better to take some of your own food, or choose a different restaurant.

If you think you are having a reaction:-

Tell those around you, and the most responsible staff member. If you have an EpiPen, then follow the training you have received and use the EpiPen. Ensure that those around you know about your medication.



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