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To ask people who have food allergies or whose DC have food allergies

(45 Posts)
LetsTryAFreshStart Wed 19-Nov-14 21:57:43

when you're eating out and you want to know whether a particular dish contains something you're/your DC are allergic to, would you ask the person serving you before you ordered it if it contained x? Or would you just order it and then kick up a fuss afterwards when you realised it contained the ingredient you're allergic to and make a fuss about not being told it contained it?

I imagine most people would go with the first option, no?

I know this is an odd question but I do have a (very boring) reason for asking.

MoreSnowPlease Wed 19-Nov-14 21:59:29

Of course the first option...the second option risks death

Sirzy Wed 19-Nov-14 21:59:29

Yes alway check before ordering.

blackeyedsusie Wed 19-Nov-14 21:59:33

ask first. I did have a probelem though when we asked for a jacket potato and they served it with coleslaw... which was not mentioned on the menu.

ouryve Wed 19-Nov-14 22:00:27

DS1 and i only have intolerances, but for an allergy, I'd definitely find out before ordering. It would be ridiculous not to. Even for DS1's intolerance to cheese, I'd ask ahead if the item listing wasn't clear because I hate cleaning up puke at midnight.

SleepyMcgee Wed 19-Nov-14 22:02:32

My DP is wheat intolerant and always asks before ordering as to do the second option risks everyone being covered in a poo explosion.
I'm intrigued though about your boring

Pinkje Wed 19-Nov-14 22:03:09

Hmm, this is a reverse is it? Yes, I am allergic to shellfish and I always ask when ordering anything with fish.

jalopyjane Wed 19-Nov-14 22:04:17

I never ask before ordering as its fairly unusual ingredient. But I'd never kick up a fuss about it hmm

MrsMook Wed 19-Nov-14 22:09:45

We were caught out by a roast dinner. We asked for no gravy, and it wasn't until it was served that it turned out that the meat was cooked in the gravy which had potential to trigger the milk/ egg/ soya intolerance / allergies as its one of those variable foods that you can't reasonably anticipate the ingredients of. His reactions were enough to make him poorly and uncomfortable, fortunately not dangerous.

It's just a pain when asking results in lots of blank looks and much flicking through the folder as no one has a clue. Then there's the blanket disclaimers. If you don't ask, then you're creating your own problem.

Delphine31 Wed 19-Nov-14 22:15:33

This is a difficult one. I completely understand the pain it is asking staff who don't always give helpful answers. Nowadays they will all say the stock line about not being able to guarantee anything due to presence in kitchen etc. rather than answering the straightforward question 'Does this have x in it'?

I will always ask if the dish is something with multiple components. I have a nut allergy so will always check about a roast dinner in case it comes with some sort of stuffing.

On the other hand, like a PP used as an example, if I were to see a 'jacket potato with cheese' on a menu, I would think 'great that's simple' and not bother checking. I could then be caught out by nutty coleslaw or salad with a walnut dressing. I would consider this to be my fault for not asking.

I'm afraid it is our responsibility to spell things out rather than rely on menu descriptions.

LetsTryAFreshStart Wed 19-Nov-14 22:20:17

Pinkje I'm not sure if this would be classed as a reverse but I will reveal the (boring) reason why I asked this.

I work in a cafe and today someone ordered a Christmas pudding but didn't realise it contained nuts until she cut into it. She then complained because she was allergic to nuts and she hadn't been told it had nuts in.

I thought it was odd because she didn't ask if it contained nuts in the first place or told anyone about her allergy. She just went ahead and ordered it. But I would have thought that if you were allergic to something you would ask beforehand.

blanklook Wed 19-Nov-14 22:35:48

The customer was wrong. She was vv u

Anyone who has allergies should ask beforehand, especially if the item they are ordering is likely to have the allergens in it. Times 1000 if they have an anaphylactic reaction to those allergens and could die.

The problem is, loads of people can have mild reactions that are unpleasant but not life-threatening.

It could be helpful if you marked 'contains nuts' on something like that on your menu, but I do realise you may sell various types and some will and some won't contain nuts. As far as I'm aware, there is no legislation for food retailers like cafés and restaurants to declare all of the allergens in their foods unless they are specifically asked.

It's not your fault, because she ordered it without asking first. Unfortunately, not all people affected with allergies are also intelligent enough to know how to prevent an incident.

blanklook Wed 19-Nov-14 22:41:34


Delphine31 Wed 19-Nov-14 22:43:10

That is extremely odd behaviour for someone with a nut allergy.

Christmas pudding has nuts in it more often than not. In fact, I expect it to have nuts in it so given my allergy I would never even consider ordering it at a restaurant.

Your customer was being very unreasonable. Desserts in particular are one of those things that people with nut allergies should (and do) always ask about.

People like this do nothing to help those with allergies not be seen as awkward sods.

DoJo Wed 19-Nov-14 22:45:07

It depends - if I had ordered a jacket potato with cheese, I wouldn't bother to check, but if I had ordered something which could have a nut hidden in it, such as a Christmas pudding then I definitely would, even if it didn't normally have nuts in the recipe.

ChristmasSparkle Wed 19-Nov-14 22:45:10

I'm allergic to eggs and intolerant to milk. I always ask before ordering as mayonnaise or coleslaw type stuff ALWAYS randomly appears if I don't, regardless of whether I asked for it or not! angry

I work in a cafe and today someone ordered a Christmas pudding but didn't realise it contained nuts until she cut into it. She then complained because she was allergic to nuts and she hadn't been told it had nuts in.
She should have thought to have asked first. What are you supposed to be, psychic?! confused

Delphine31 Wed 19-Nov-14 22:45:45

Ooh I've always wondered if this happens on Mumsnet. Two different posters asking about the same thing but from different points of view.

Or is the other thread also you OP?

TinklyLittleLaugh Wed 19-Nov-14 22:53:03

I am always slightly amazed that people with allergies eat out. You are totally putting your trust in some random stranger aren't you?

Lonecatwithkitten Wed 19-Nov-14 22:54:10

I always ask now. I cook a lot so I fairly good a guessing the ingredients, but I was caught out once when I ordered a salad that had an incredibly detailed list of ingredients, but failed to mention the croutons which were every where. There were five other salads on the menu that all listed croutons.
I find small independents the most helpful at checking, a lot of chains now produce a gluten free and those that don't have lots of eye rolling when you ask.

kippersmum Wed 19-Nov-14 22:56:23

This is a tricky one, I have a friend who deals with food allergies & it is a full Epi-pen job if milk or kiwi fruits come anywhere near us. I have another friend who has put herself & 2 daughters on the most restrictive diet I've seen, for eczema..... each friend is an end of the spectrum & whilst I understand concerns about eczema having seen the reality of living life with an Epi-pen, I'm not sure that both conditions should be treated the same.

I'm sure eczema is bad, but it won't kill you... I think severe allergies should be taken more seriously

LetsTryAFreshStart Wed 19-Nov-14 23:01:10

Delphine31 that other thread was me too, yes. I was going to post why I asked that question in the first place on that thread but it also got me thinking about what people with allergies do when eating out. So started a new thread to get more views on the whole "what do people with allergies do" thing.

Like I said on that thread, I hate dried fruit so I don't think I've ever eaten Christmas pudding before so I don't really know if nuts are a usual ingredient in them. Someone at work did think it was odd she didn't ask beforehand as "Christmas pudding does usually have nurs in". A quick read online seems to bring up similar - that it more often does than not. Which just makes it even more strange.

Someone else did suggest that she might not really be allergic and might have just been awkward - it was pointed out that it looked like she'd eaten some of it but that just seems a bit far fetched to me. I like to give people the benefit of the doubt.

LetsTryAFreshStart Wed 19-Nov-14 23:02:12

^nuts, not nurs.

Delphine31 Wed 19-Nov-14 23:03:28

Tinkly, I gather that there are people with allergies who don't eat out.

My nut allergy is extremely severe, but I was brought up to not let it stop me doing things. It does pose some limitations such as avoiding Thai, Indian, Chinese restaurants as these cuisines use a lot of nuts.

But otherwise, I have not had any serious reactions that have been a restaurant's fault. I've had mild reactions probably as a result of cross-contamination but I see that as the risk I choose to take by eating out.

If I'm going out for a meal at a poncy (ish) restaurant with more inventive dishes, I always email the restaurant in advance and ask the staff to check my menu choices directly with the chef. This works very well.

I love food, and I love eating out. It forms an important part of my social life so for me it's worth the risk.

I have told my parents that if I do pop my clogs as the result of eating at a restaurant or a friend's house that I want them to be absolutely clear that it was no one's fault. There is only one person responsible for me avoiding an allergic reaction and that is me.

Delphine31 Wed 19-Nov-14 23:06:52


Unfortunately there are people who say they are 'allergic' to things when what they mean is that they don't like them.

Again, this sort of thing is really unhelpful to restaurants and to people with real allergies.

It is quite possible that this lady only has a very mild allergy to nuts - not all nut allergies provoke an anaphylactic response. So she may have nibbled a bit and realised about the nuts without showing signs of a severe reaction.

Whatever the case here, your customer was completely unreasonable in ordering something so risky without checking first.

trixymalixy Wed 19-Nov-14 23:10:08

Both my DC have allergies. We don't let it stop us from eating out, but I always ask before ordering what is suitable for them to eat.

It'll be interesting to see if the new food labelling coming into force in December makes eating out easier.

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