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...!?

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