Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Statistics & Stories

One of my favorite allergen goofs that restaurants make when dealing with me and my "no tomato" request is to simply remove the offending tomato AFTER THEY PLACED IT IN MY FOOD. I once had a waitress tell me, "well, there was a tomato on your turkey sandwich, so I remembered what you said and picked it off." (apparently I had said, please, rub something that I carry an epi-pen for all over my food, then remove it, and then believe that the potential for allergic reaction has been taken care of by you, my hero??) That was three years ago, and subsequently I have changed my request to "Please, no tomato in my sandwich, no tomato touching any other parts of my sandwich, no knife cutting my sandwich that has been used to cut another sandwich with a tomato, " etc...
Now, they look at me like I'm crazy, but yet again, my paranoia has been vindicated. Read the following statistics I found that were published in an article in the scientific journal of the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (ACAAI)

Ryan Ahuja and Scott H. Sicherer, M.D., of The Elliot and Roslyn Jaffe Food Allergy Institute, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, N.Y., found that food-allergy training was reportedly conducted in only 42 percent of personnel at 100 restaurants and food establishments.
While approximately 90 percent of managers, servers and chefs reported varying degrees of "comfort" with providing a safe meal, numerous misconceptions were disclosed. For example, restaurant personnel reported that consuming a small amount of allergen is safe (24 percent); fryer heat destroys allergens (35 percent); and, removal of an allergen from a finished meal was safe (25 percent).
Food allergy registries indicate that reactions in restaurants accounted for up to 25 percent of accidental exposures in persons with peanut and tree nut allergies, and 15 of 32 percent of fatal reactions to foods began from food obtained in a restaurant or food establishment.

Here is the link to the rest of the article:

Please make sure you read the above carefully...your food is being prepared by people who truly believe "fryer heat destroys allergens," and, my personal favorite, "removal of an allergen from a finished meal was safe." As I get older, I'm learning not to feel badly about asking a waitress for what I truly need and to stress the whole "tomato, removal of tomato, knife that touched tomato" scenario. Sometimes I even show them my med-alert bracelet, just so they know I'm not pulling their chain. The more articles I read like the above, the more zealous I will become in standing up for my "allergic rights," if you will. Fryer heat...Unbelievable...!?

Friday, May 18, 2007

I have never been this appalled....

As you are well aware, I scour the websites of chain restaurants in an attempt to bring you, my allergic readers, the most up-to-date allergen information. It is a part of my quest to make eating in a restaurant easier and less anxiety-provoking for myself, and it is my hope that others can benefit.
That being said, I came across the following today on the website of Old Country Buffet/Home Town Buffet/Country Buffet (they are all owned by the same company).
Food Allergies
We understand how important it is to know what you are eating when dealing with a food allergy. Given our many made-from-scratch foods, various ingredient suppliers, regional recipes and special promotion menus, the challenge of providing detailed information regarding allergies is extremely difficult. Our chefs are responsible for preparing a delicious array of food offerings. It is not practical to attempt to separate allergens from non-allergenic items. For example, our kitchen regularly utilizes ingredients that can contain some of the more common allergens such as peanuts, shellfish and gluten-containing items. Consequently, we regret that it is not practical to provide specific allergen information. We recommend checking with your health care provider or the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network ( for information regarding your individual needs.
Are they joking???? "Consequently we regret that it is not practical to provide specific allergen information?" Not practical?!! Sounds to me like a giant case of the lazies and a "we aren't liable, we warned our consumers" in the event of a possible problem. I urge ALL of my readers to join me in boycotting this malarky. Better not to eat there than risk the cross-contamination that THEY tell you is pretty much inevitable. DISGUSTING.
In case you need to see for yourself, click on this link and then scroll down....

Happy Eating (anywhere but here)
Your allergic diner

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

And I think to myself....

What a wonderful world, this world wide web. Look what your allergic diner stumbled across this weekend while doing some research on food allergies...
This website is updated by the kind folks at the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network, which has an overwhelming amount of resources for every facet of allergic life. I found this one interesting solely because they offer allergy updates on ingredients in supermarket-found products, and that these updates are provided BY THE COMPANIES THEMSELVES!
Little by little, the allergic consumers are going to take the world by storm...
In the meantime, enjoy this website. I hope you find it as helpful as I do.
Your Allergic Diner

Monday, May 07, 2007

The Allergic Diner goes to McDonalds!

Well, I am about to advocate something I never thought I would. Your allergic diner had a most delicious meal this weekend, at McDonalds, of all places! I have not eaten there in close to 7 years because I was afraid of triggering several allergies, and I could never get a straight answer as to what spices/oils etc. were used in their cooking.
But now:
Select any menu item, click "go," and you have a complete list of nutritional information, ingredient information, and allergen info.
Obviously, this should be eaten in moderation, but it was nice to get to take part in what every one else does!
Your Allergic Diner

Friday, May 04, 2007

America Runs On Dunkin....

Or so I'm led to believe by the commercials with John Goodman's voice-over.
Is that really the case? The non-allergic husband LOVES Dunkin' Donuts. Every weekend he has a bagel and two donuts from them. The allergic diner likes their munchkins (a lot) but I do not have a weekly requirement. I am somewhat troubled by the fact that their bagels taste far better than those fresh-baked at the local deli (though not troubled enough not to partake of them) but recently I have become a complete Dunkin' Donuts supporter. Look what they provide....
Click on ANY product for their full information.
Happy eating!
Your Allergic Diner

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Au Bon Pain

Au Bon Pain, a national chain bakery/cafe, has a fantastic website that I encourage all of my readers to check out. Not only do they give you a full ingredient listing by clicking on something through this link
(Select a group, then select the specific menu item, and underneath the allergy alert info is the button to click on for a full ingredient listing),
they also give you nutritional info on everything they sell. The FDA never made restaurants label their food, but Au Bon Pain kindly provides the same content that you would find on a can of soda or package of chicken in your local supermarket. In addition to allergen/ingredient information, they offer a weblist of which of their items are lower in carbohydrates, higher in protein, etc.
A fantastic website!
The Allergic Diner