Plan ahead for safe, enjoyable dining out with food allergies by consulting Barrington IL specialists
An estimated 15 million people have food allergies in the U.S., according to University of Chicago researchers. Food allergies among children alone have increased 18 percent in the decade between 1997 and 2007.
While these allergies may make you apprehensive about dining out, more restaurants are recognizing that it’s good business to have the means and protocols in place to serve the many potential patrons allergic to specific types of foods.
Just as you have modified your diet, and the way you shop and prepare foods at home, it takes a little bit of planning to ensure dining out is enjoyable and safe.
Before you go
The Food Allergy Research & Education nonprofit created the SafeFARE program. These tools are for both those with food allergies and for restaurants creating a safer dining experience.
Start by using SafeFARE’s online restaurant search. You can type in a number of parameters, such as cuisine and neighborhood, to identify those restaurants deemed “food-allergy aware.”
Results from this database represent businesses that have completed food allergy training programs and have maintained an annual verification process through certified industry associations.
It’s also a good idea to review the menu at your potential restaurant in advance. Call the business outside of rush hours (between 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.) and ask to speak with a manager or chef. You can discuss your food allergy with him or her and gauge how he or she will be able to accommodate your request.
At the restaurant
Even if you feel comfortable with the dining establishment and professionals you spoke with in advance, you should never leave home without the medications prescribed to you by Drs. Askenazi, Hahn, and Patel. This may include your epinephrine delivery device and any other quick-relief meds you may have. You should also wear any medical ID bracelets with information about your allergies, in the event that you have a reaction.
The big risk at dinner is associated with cross-contamination. If foods for those with allergies are not prepared in an area separate from other guests’ meals, there is the chance the allergen may affect your food. Likewise, different utensils and cutting boards should be used to prepare your food to, once again, reduce the possibility of an offending substance ending up on your plate.
Even something as seemingly innocuous as “plate stacking,” whereby the server brings out multiple meals at a time by balancing several guests’ plates, can spell disaster for your meal if your food is exposed to an allergen from another person’s meal.
If you are in doubt about how the food was prepared or if something seems “off” when you look at the meal, go with your instinct. Have your server send the food back. It’s best to exercise as they say “an ounce of prevention” rather than requiring a “pound of cure,” especially when it comes to food allergies in which avoidance is the only treatment.
As specialists in these types of allergens, the Advanced Allergy & Asthma Associates and Food Allergy Center of Illinois can discuss your options for dining out with food allergies in Barrington IL. Let us help you minimize your risks, so you can still enjoy social events like dining out, by calling 847 888 8802 to schedule a consultation.