Have you found a restaurant that meets your family’s food allergy needs?
The quick answer: “No, not really.”
Restaurant menus are changing these days to keep up with the new gluten-free rave (it has become somewhat of a rave for those for whom it is not medically necessary…not that there is anything wrong with cutting back on wheat, either). Many restaurants have added a few gluten-free items to their menus or have an entirely separate gluten-free menu.
The increase in gluten-free restaurant items and menus is certainly progress for that particular group of allergy/Celiac sufferers, but it does not include those who suffer from any other food allergy. I am not proposing that the restaurant industry do a complete overhaul to accommodate every allergy or medical need. I am simply stating that it stills leaves out a large number of people.
Sure, there are some restaurants where you can find something on the menu that does not contain the top allergens, but there is one very large hidden issue — Cross-Contamination. “Allergy-friendly” french fries are most likely fried in the same fryer as egg and gluten-containing chicken nuggets. “Allergy-friendly” hamburger is cooked up right next to that cheeseburger and guess what? The same spatula is used to flip both burgers.
Let me tell you a quick story…my son’s first anaphylactic reaction was at a restaurant from a supposedly allergy-friendly dinner (you can read the entire restaurant anaphylactic story here). No peanut oil was used for the french fries, no cheese was on the burger, and we even left off the bun to avoid any potential hidden ingredients. It didn’t matter…something cross-contaminated his food. It was certainly a wake up call to us. We no longer take for granted the potential risk of cross-contamination. When we do the occasional McDonald’s treat for him, I am anxious for the next hour, even though we check every morsel of the food before he eats it.
The answer to the question for my family is that there are a few places that we have found to be somewhat allergy-friendly, but you must always be on guard for a change in menu items, ingredients, and cross-contamination. As far as ingredients go, you can check most large chain restaurant’s menu on their website. However, you must keep in mind that ingredients often change and websites are not updated.
Finally, the website Allergy Eats is a fantastic resource for reviews on the allergy-friendliness of restaurants. You can read personal experiences as well as enter your own. Allergy Eats lists restaurants across the country, both chain and local. I highly recommend you check there before you head out for your next burger and fries.
For all the potential dangers in restaurants, you can see why we most often eat at home. I just no longer want to put my son at risk; the convenience is not worth it! But not only is it safer, it’s much easier on our budget as well. Plus, my family tends to like my cooking and that suits me just fine. 🙂
Have you found any restaurants that are allergy-friendly or not? Please share your experience with us. Also, you might want to consider leaving a review on Allergy Eats.
Shared at Pennywise Platter.