woman dining out

Accounting for Food Allergies when Dining Out

Food allergies are relatively common, treatable disorders that a surprising majority of people has. Despite this, we still hear horror stories about someone nearly dying because of peanut allergy or some other bad reaction to an ingredient they didn’t know the restaurant was serving.

But knowing exactly what goes into your food is key to avoiding this situation. Every restaurant, diner, distillery and bar from Spring Hill, Kansas to Salisbury, North Carolina should always keep food options in mind for both the owners and the patrons’ sake.

So, how exactly can you do this? Read on to find out.

Look for the sign

For patrons, this usually means either checking out or asking for the food options available. It’s a simple thing that can be easily forgotten, but something that you should keep in mind if you or someone you know has food allergies. Most jurisdictions will require some sort of showing that they use ingredients that can trigger allergic reactions at the door. If you don’t see a sign, always ask what exactly do they use for the food you’re ordering.

Keep alternatives on the shelves

There are times when customers will order something that can’t be made without a specific ingredient that they’re allergic to. While this isn’t a call for the patron to always get their way, a good option is to offer something that can be used as an alternative ingredient. There are many examples of these on the market, ranging from natural to synthetic variants.

For customers, that also means having a good idea of what ingredients can be used. Don’t be afraid to ask for a substitute if you still want to try something in a restaurant—you never know if they do have something along those lines, and it usually requires just a small adjustment on the part of the chef.

Avoid cross contact

chef plating the main course steak

Speaking of cooks and the kitchen, one of the more common ways food ingredients can trigger allergies (even if not specifically used in the meal) is cross contact. This means that the ingredients that trigger the reaction came from another source in the kitchen that came in contact with the other meal served in some way.

One of the best ways to overcome this is to just be thorough with your cleaning and routines in the kitchen. Never use ladles or pots for more than one type of dish at a time. When switching content, you should always wash the utensil thoroughly. Having clearly defined food preparation areas also help when it comes to avoiding this.

For customers, always be mindful about the possible sources of cross-contamination. For example, if you’re eating with a group of friends, you should always be aware of the type of food they’re eating in order to avoid an allergic reaction. This is especially important when it comes to group meals since those are the most difficult to account for when it comes to ingredients.

Being careful can go a long way into making sure your dining experience is as pleasant as can be. While you can certainly go above and beyond into making sure you’re protected against allergies, it’s always a good idea to keep some medication on hand, just in case.