Food Allergies: A Responsible Approach

None of these are a good way to end a meal.

I have one hard and fast rule when it comes to waiting tables.  No one dies on my watch.  I have had several guests leave the restaurant in an ambulance, but none of them have died.  It is a simple thing, but it helps me sleep better at night.  I may not be changing the world with this rule, but I cannot imagine the guilt of breaking it.

This is why I am particularly careful about food allergies.  Knowledge of food allergies is the most basic tool  a server has to prevent guests from facing life-threatening reactions in their restaurants.  This is too often treated lightly.  I once heard a surgeon say that the only minor surgery is the one someone else is having.  The same can be said of food allergies.  While it may not seem important to every guest, the difference between a peanut and a tree nut can be the difference between an enjoyable meal and a trip to the emergency room for some of your guests.

Read the full post at Foodie Knowledge

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About David Hayden

David Hayden is a restaurant marketing and training consultant based in Kansas City, MO. He writes a series of 9 blogs collectively known as The Hospitality Formula Network and is the author of "Tips2: Tips For Improving Your Tips" and "Building Your Brand With Facebook"

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  • Jessi

    Great post, I find it interesting that I have to tell a restaurant I have an allergy rather than an intolerance to shellfish and farm raised fish in order to get them to take me seriously. I might not die if you mess up and touch the shellfish or farm raised fish while preparing my meal, but 2 to 3 days of not being able to keep food down is pretty horrible to me. Thanks for bringing a little awareness.

  • Anna

    Thank you for your post and for being someone who doesn’t minimize the seriousness of food allergies. I’m allergic to wheat, and I do my best to pick things on menus that look likely to be safe. I always let the wait staff know about the allergy when I order and tell them that I’m flexible about having something else if there’s a problem with my first choice. Part of why I don’t eat out more often is because I worry about accidents, indifference, or misunderstandings. I do think that most people who work in restaurants are careful and aware, but there’s always the handful that are problematic. Thanks you for being one of the good ones.

  • yellowcat

    I have an intolerance for beef, therefore I am very sympathetic to people with allergies and I will go into the freezer and read every ingredient to make sure the customer isn’t going to have a reaction. People with allergies tend to know exactly what they can and cannot have and are very specific.

    However, people with gluten intolerances are a pain in the butt. If they see that your restaurant has items which are gluten free (meat), they suddenly become brain dead and think they can eat everything (pasta & bread).

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  • SGM

    So great and wise that you were able to appreciate all of this when you were training at that restaurant! There have been some wait staff who are familiar with food allergies when we go there (and our son has several) but then most are not. I wish it was mandatory to have “cheat sheets” on them at all times as well as proper training. Our son was so bad with even sensitivities to foods that it caused awful eczema everywhere for him. Thankfully he is much better now though that he takes his Belly Boost probiotic for kids and we are so thankful! Now I just can’t wait to see regulations at food service places as more and more common this is for so many.

    • tipsfortips

      Thank you for the kind words. The feedback I have received in the comment sections and through other channels has really had me thinking about this issue. I have decided this deserves more than a single post. I am still tinkering with the best approach, but should have some interesting posts on this topic by the end of the month. I think this is a problem restaurants have been too slow to address and would benefit greatly from being part of the solution. I hope you check back in and can provide feedback on future posts on this topic.

  • michelle

    great info, thanks for sharing!