I just had a conversation with my parents as they are preparing dinner for tonight. One of the guests let them know that she can’t have peanuts, dairy or gluten and they needed help finding alternatives for a recipe. One of their ingredients said May contain milk so I asked whether she had an intolerance or a severe allergy but she had not provided that information. For most, a food sensitive individual could have a “may contain” but a food allergy makes that a definite no.
I’ve also heard complaints from chefs recently who make a special diet meal only to see that client eating off someone else’s plate. What do you think that chef will do the next time a special diet meal is required?
I think we’re doing a disservice by not communicating our special diets effectively like calling Celiac disease a gluten allergy or a food allergy as “minor”. If we don’t educate about the realities, how do we expect the general public (and those who serve us food) to understand and react appropriately?
A study published in October’s issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association says that American children get almost half of their daily energy from fast food. http://www.medicaldaily.com/articles/2403/20101005/40-of-american-childrens-diet-is-fast-food.htm
This is the one time where I think that it is positive that my family has food allergies. Those same allergies that keep us up at night also mean that it’s not easy to just grab fast food between activities. Therefore I believe that we eat more healthfully and with more thought and that’s definitely a good thing.
I just finished posting this post on the Facebook Gluten Free and Allergy Friendly Discussion Group but if you are not linked into that group, you can check out the post here:
I was driving back home from Victoria yesterday morning and saw a billboard on one of our local restaurants that said, “Celiac Menu Now Available”. How do you trust a restaurant with your Celiac Disease?
Last year the owner of a local pizza company talked to me about how they had developed a gluten free pizza at their current pizza business and that they were going to start offering it. I asked her what steps they were taking to avoid cross contamination and how they were verifying that their ingredients and final product was gluten free. Unfortunately, she couldn’t answer. This was not because she was an uncaring business owner, far from it. She just didn’t have any personal experience with food allergies to know that offering a gluten free pizza was about more than developing a recipe.
So what do you need to feel comfortable with eating out safely? While having an owner/chef who has food allergies or Celiac disease themselves can make us feel more comfortable, we all know people with food allergies who cut corners, eat products that “may contain” the avoided food or cheat on their gluten free diet because they are asymptomatic. So is it enough to have a “with it” chef or do you want to see a written policy?
You can put in your two cents by commenting on this blog post or you can go to the Facebook page link and make your comments there. Get in on the discussion!
Last Sunday, Rob and I had a booth at the BC Foodservice Show in Vancouver and it was quite the whirlwind of a day. We started serving up our new granolas, new trail mixes and our best-selling vanilla caramel granola and we just didn’t stop putting out samples to try as our booth had a continuous stream of people – including those who went around the show and came back for more.
Not only was it great to see so many people enjoying our products and taking samples of granola bars home for family, friends and colleagues, it was truly overwhelming to see so many people who needed special diets. We lost count of how many people came to our booth who personally had peanut/nut allergies, not to mention Celiac Disease or gluten intolerance. We do expect this response at consumer shows for food allergies but not at your average food industry show.
And for those who didn’t personally have food allergies/intolerances, very few needed any education about the need to offer specialty products to their clients. While some were not familiar with pure oats for a gluten free diet, all professionals who came to our booth had been receiving requests for meals and snacks that would meet the needs of various food allergies. We talked to deli owners, bakeries, ice cream producers, chefs, caterers, universities, schools and more.
What a difference from when we first started Nonuttin’ Foods and we had to explain why a peanut free granola bar was a necessity. While I still think we have a long way to go, it’s really nice to see that support groups, allergic people and allergic parents everywhere have begun to turn around a very slow moving industry. I look forward to the day when eating out with food allergies is a breeze.
In a previous post, I shared our family’s experience with Applebee’s in Minot, North Dakota. If you haven’t read it, you can go to the blog post at http://www.nonuttin.com/blog/archives/349.
The bottom line is that our server at Applebee’s, Jennifer, essentially ran back and forth between our table, the kitchen, and her manager asking questions, checking with the head chef, checking ingredient labels and truly taking our family’s 6 food allergies seriously. And she managed to actually serve us with a smile at the same time.
So we tipped her 30% of our bill. We often tip quite large but this was large, even for us. Some people might think that service of this sort should be the norm, and even if that’s true, it’s not what we run into on a regular basis. So to me, tipping far more than the norm is part of my dining out strategy. While I have no proof that this dining out strategy works, here’s my justification: Read more »
It’s been a while since I’ve written a blog post. With renovating here at Nonuttin’, having guests and holiday travel, I have to admit that I haven’t been very prolific with the writing. But with all of the traveling I’ve been doing with family, I have several blog posts to write about our experiences. That said, I’ll start with The Applebee’s Saga.
At home we have certain restaurants we feel comfortable with and don’t tend to deviate from those if and when we go out to eat as a family. Since we have 6 food allergies in our family, it makes for a challenge which is why we’ve gotten to know the chefs and owners of local favorites very well.
That’s all well and good but has no relevance if you’re traveling, particularly in a different country such as the US. Since we tend to dine where the owner is present, chains don’t often meet our needs. And even if we’re comfortable with a chain in Canada, we’ve discovered that as soon as we hit the US, there’s a whole new set of rules in that same franchise. Case in point, Applebee’s, which we went to while in Minot, North Dakota in July. Read more »