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To think if you are the allergy expert in a restaraunt

(73 Posts)
WhyCantIuseTheNameIWant Sat 08-Aug-15 15:36:13

Then you should have a basic understanding of food allergies?
Trying to find a suitable meal for 2 year old dd the other day.
She is allergic to wheat. Not gluten. Wheat.

Quite often, GF products are ok for her, as they are wheat free too.
But there are a couple of companies, mostly catering for coeliacs, that use modified wheat in their products. These are no good for my dd.

I understand that most people don't know the difference, or have no reason to investigate this. It's the first time I have had to deal with it myself.

But if you are the so-called allergy expert, you would know the difference? Or at least listen when the customer explains what the poor child can eat?

VikingLady Sat 08-Aug-15 15:43:15

Similar issue to dealing with DS's dairy and soy allergies. The number of times we've been told "the ...... Is gluten free" as if it's the same thing!

BuggerLumpsAnnoyed Sat 08-Aug-15 15:52:13

I understand your frustration. But in general restaurants don't pay very much, and higher people on a part time basis. No restaurant is going to teach it's staff about all the alergies. Better they can tell you the ingredients and you can make an informed decision.

I work in a Chinese restaurant, and the chefs don't speak very good English so it is very difficult to explain to them what wheat and gluten is, but they can tell me what they use.

ItsAllGoingToBeFine Sat 08-Aug-15 15:57:13

If you are the allergy expert then yes ,YANBU. However, outside of specialist restaurants staff/chefs can often be pretty unaware, especially if using premade food. Many also (sensibly) will not guarantee a food is free of something as it is very hard to avoid "traces of".

I'm afraid you are going to have to get used to asking, and reading lots of packets (even in restaurants).

jeanswithatwist Sat 08-Aug-15 15:59:14

you need to take control and ask to see ingredients of a meal that you think may be wheat free. it's the only way. never trust the opinion of someone who works in a restaurant as it is not their job to recommend what your dc can eat. fwiw my dd has peanut allergy and could (lord forbid) die if she ate something with peanuts in. i work out what probably won't have any ie nut oil in and then ask to check ingredients. it's a nightmare, i don't know how serious your childs allergic reactions are, but my heart goes into my mouth whenever i go somewhere to eat with dd that we haven't been before. i take responsibility too and tell the staff this, that way they are more helpful and stop thinking about pound signs and the possibility that i might sue them

saveforthat Sat 08-Aug-15 16:03:18

Did the member of staff really introduce themselves as an allergy expert? Most restaurants would just provide a list of ingredients. You should be the allergy expert for your or your child's diet

whatisforteamum Sat 08-Aug-15 16:08:05

There is new legislation in and as a chef i had to take an allergens test before about April i think.The front of house staff have allergy awareness however when asked they have a laminated list to present to the customer as ultimately it is the patients/parents descision based on the information provided.Also seperate knives or chopping boards need to be used and we have a fryer that mustnt be used for breaded items.Hope this helps.

paxtecum Sat 08-Aug-15 16:11:29

The problem with restaurant food is that is usually been 'messed' with.
Chips should be fried potatoes, but often they are seasoned and that can involve using msg which will give be stomach ache for at least two days.
They often seem to have a sort of batter on them too.

Steamed fresh cod seems to have msg on it too.

Avoiding wheat whist eating out will be difficult.

LazyLouLou Sat 08-Aug-15 16:29:34

Allergy expert in a restaurant?

Ye gods! Now I know just how far out of touch I am. Living out here in Sticksville can be such a chore. I mean... I have to read the whole fucking menu and decide for myself whether or not a food is safe to eat. OK, I can ask the waitress/chef for their advice, but had I only known I could ask the food allergy expert!!!!

I am moving to Entitledsville with immediate effect!

saltnpepa Sat 08-Aug-15 16:58:34

My nephew has severe allergies and when I take him out to eat we sit down and I ask can the chef come out to talk to me about what he can eat. Once you've got the chef on side the rest is easier because that is the person preparing your food. Never trust some 19 year old on a gap year with your childs life and that is basically what we are doing every time we trust some young kid with a laminated sheet. Not doing it, he's not even my child so I have to get it right.

whatisforteamum Sat 08-Aug-15 17:22:03

No disrespect intended but why would you want to take anyone with a severe allergy out for a meal.
I agree with other posters as i work in a branded restaurant the print out is there to guide the customer as much as possible and as chefs we do our best for a variety of dietary requirements and however in a high volume place such as where i am it is a big ask when we get specific requests as our time is very limited from orders placed to delivery to the table.
Much as i think every customer young and old is valuable i think it has all gone a bit too far.I would cook for my own relative if they had an allergy rather than put the onus on very busy chefs and waiting staff who cater for the masses.I speak as someone who was a veggie before vegetarians were catered for so i just eat in then i know how food is prepared.

Andro Sat 08-Aug-15 17:37:39

I have to read the whole fucking menu and decide for myself whether or not a food is safe to eat.

The problem there is that what appears safe, quite often isn't. The current fad of adding cheese to everything from biscuits, to frosting and even to the utterly bizarre foods such as a chicken curry means I have to ask about everything all the time.

No disrespect intended but why would you want to take anyone with a severe allergy out for a meal.

You may not have intended any disrespect, but you have managed to be very insulting! Living with an allergy is excluding at the best of times, suggesting that we should be kelp behind closed doors to make others' lives easier is just offensive.

enderwoman Sat 08-Aug-15 17:47:16

Considering that we are a pretty litigious country I'm surprised that there isn't a requirement for restaurants to display allergens for each menu item.

My son's a coeliac and I frequently confuse waiters and waitresses for confirmation about marinades, rubs not containing wheat and gluten. I don't expect all waiters/waitresses to know every ingredient since so many restaurants rely on food prepared elsewhere but it would be helpful to have a list of ingredients with allergens highlighted in bold like they do for supermarket ready meals.

Mistigri Sat 08-Aug-15 17:54:15

It's very frustrating but YABVU to expect restaurant staff to have any understanding of allergies when the vast majority of the population, including many medical professionals, don't have a clue.

Your safest bet is chain restaurants where the manager should have a booklet which lists all potential allergens in each dish. It is much more hit and miss/ risky in smaller restaurants.

Ultimately the responsibility to keep yourself (or your child) safe is your own. It's important to make sure that your child realises this as early as possible - if in doubt, don't eat it.

LazyLouLou Sat 08-Aug-15 18:23:11


I did add that I could ask waitress/chef for information

My whole post was an incredulous and exasperated exposition on the apparent reliance on other people to understand and deal with your personal issues on first meeting.

I was expressing my amazement that anyone would rely upon a waitress to decide what is or is not safe for their child with allergies to eat instead of taking responsibility themselves

I was expressing incredulity at the thought of 'an allergy expert' even existing in real life

I was somewhat angry that anyone would think that taking a child with allergies out to eat and not have thought about the possible problems in advance - and hence being able to make a better choice.

I was, in short, laughing at the naivety/laziness/entitled behaviour that could lead anyone to express themselves as the OP did.

UrethraFranklin1 Sat 08-Aug-15 19:19:40

An allergy expert in a restaurant? Are you expecting a trained medical professional? Because all that means is the sap who was forced to read a couple of leaflets about peanut allergy and coeliac disease.

It's your job to know, don't expect anyone else to have a clue.

AmpleRaspberries Sat 08-Aug-15 20:09:24

OP I get where you're coming from. It is not entitled to expect a chef to know the ingredients in their food.

I have a DD with allergies, which fortunately she will grow out of. Of course it's my job to keep her safe, but it is also a legal requirement for restaurants to provide allergy information. It's not that easy to tell just from the menu, I have asked about pasta with tomato before now only to be told it has milk in it.

In my experience the biggest problem is that people don't take allergies seriously, the implication being that you are being awkward rather than just wanting to enjoy a normal meal out without making your child ill.

CombineBananaFister Sat 08-Aug-15 20:19:50

We have an ingredient bible that is given to the customer so THEY can check the ingredients and make an informed choice but then we are branded to within an inch of our generic lives grin a restaurant probably has chefs and variances on dishes and a bit more individualism where the staff can't say for sure what you can have. Better to ask for something YOU are happy with to be made from scratch.
Bit surprised an allergy 'specialist' wouldn't know your particular issue but as others have said - on minimum wage it might just mean they have had a bit of training on the most common food intolerances

museumum Sat 08-Aug-15 20:24:48

Legislation now covers the 14 most common allergens. I haven't looked them up but I'd be surprised if wheat rather than gluten is that common?

saltnpepa Sat 08-Aug-15 20:26:02

No disrespect intended but why would you want to take anyone with a severe allergy out for a meal. What an insult! How about if disabled people have difficulty with access then they should just stay home? Sounds the same to me. It is important for everyone to live a full life. End of story. Your ignorance is extraordinary.

saltnpepa Sat 08-Aug-15 20:30:03

Food allergies are part of life now and places that make money out of food have to make sure their food is safe and they have trained staff to advise customers. It is that simple. LazyLouLou I suspect you live an entirely sheltered existence, that or you're just not terribly bright.

LaurieFairyCake Sat 08-Aug-15 20:30:48

I'm just a touch confused

Surely the vast majority (like almost a 100%) of gluten free stuff is wheat free too since wheat is the most common product containing gluten?

Apologies if I'm being unintentionally daft or giving offence - I swear none is intended

Corygal Sat 08-Aug-15 20:38:26

New laws mean staff must be trained in the 14 allergens in food so they can identify them and alert customers. But the onus remains on the person with allergies, or their responsible adult, to choose what they will eat.

Food intolerances are a different animal. There's a huge difference between food allergies - eg peanuts - which cause sometimes nasty immune reactions and food intolerances - eg anything - that may give you personally an upset stomach.

The trouble is that a lot of people claim they're allergic to a food eg tomatoes that you can't actually be allergic to - when they may just be intolerant. Restaurant staff can't help with that. And it isn't their responsibility either.

saltnpepa Sat 08-Aug-15 20:46:47

New laws mean staff must be trained in the 14 allergens in food so they can identify them and alert customers. But the onus remains on the person with allergies, or their responsible adult, to choose what they will eat. Obvious. Sorry but is just obvious. No person with food allergies or caring for person with food allergies would ever suggest otherwise. I think the debate is about accurate information being available by someone who speaks English, that usually helps too!

WizzardHat Sat 08-Aug-15 20:47:16

Laurie - most gluten free things are wheat free, but you can get codex wheat, meaning that some kind of process elves perhaps has taken all the gluten out and left the wheat starch and some other stuff. It's used to try and give a more convincing GF substitute but I've known people with straightforward wheat allergies who could still eat other gluten containing food. There's at least one kind of GF flour you can get on prescription that is codex wheat

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