Just like most other ventures, dining out with food allergies goes better with planning and communication.
- Check food allergy websites (allergyeats.com) and restaurant listings (yelp.com) to get ideas.
- Look at menus to see if items listed look appropriate for your child. If your child is allergic to milk, you might want to avoid a menu/restaurant with cheese as part of most offerings.
- Chain restaurants and hotel restaurants with table service (i.e. not fast food) often have national training for food allergies.
- Call ahead to ask if the restaurant has experience with food allergy safety.
- Someone in a position of responsibility will need to direct the plan for your allergy needs. Whether on the phone or in person, talk with a manager or chef. If you don’t feel confident that the staff understands food allergies, try another restaurant. Trust your impressions.
- Consider using a “Chef Card” that lists your allergens and reminds about cross contact safety measures. These links have examples:
- Be prepared. Even the most experienced and prepared staff can make mistakes. Always carry your child’s allergy medications (epi injector, etc) and your Emergency Action Plan.
- If your child is traveling with another adult be sure that person knows details about your child’s allergies including how (and when) to administer emergency medicines. Review all steps in your Emergency Action Plan.
- Consider dining at off-peak hours. Staff may be better able to manage safety details when the kitchen is less busy.
- Confirm allergy details when your meal is served.
- Bring safe snacks in case your meal is delayed due to extra care in the kitchen.