Food Allergy Living Blog Tagged Results


allergy friendly restaurant

Dining Out With Food Allergies

Posted 10.19.10 | Sarah O'Brien


When you have a child who suffers from food allergies, going out to dinner may seem impossible. Imagine all the questions you have to ask, items you have to keep track of, and letting go of kitchen control! Fortunately many large restaurant chains have picked up on how important it is to make sure they offer options and service to families managing food allergies. Many have standardized menus, which often include ingredient information, which can provide you and your family with some safe allergy friendly food options.

Do Your Research

A great resource for ensuring you find chain restaurants with allergy-friendly food options is the internet. Most major chain restaurants have websites where you can view their menus before you visit. This gives you a chance to identify safe options for your little ones with food allergies before you go!

Keep in mind that websites may not be updated frequently and ingredients may change, so it’s always a good idea to speak to a manager at the location where you're interested in dining before you go. This will help you ensure that the restaurant really is food allergy friendly and cross-contamination won’t be a problem.

Always Double Check

As parents, we always want to make sure our kids are safe, so I recommend always checking to make sure the restaurant is still food allergy-friendly even if it’s a restaurant you dine at frequently. And always be sure to tell your server about any food allergies to ensure that you have happy and healthy dining experience. Many times, they'll be happy to send the chef out to speak with you personally about your dietary restrictions!

So Many Options, So Little Time

Some great examples of food allergy friendly chain restaurants were compiled by AllergyEats, which has a goal to help members of the food allergy community make informed decisions about where to dine. 

By being able to read about how well or poorly a restaurant has accommodated other diners’ with food allergies, you can narrow down which restaurants you might like to visit. AllergyEats lists more than 750,000 restaurants across the country and invites people like you to rate them. who chose them because they specifically address food allergy concerns. Among the large restaurant chains, you can likely find reviews of locations near you including (but certainly not limited to!):

  • Boston Market
  • Carrabba's
  • Chili's
  • Chipotle
  • Longhorn Steakhouse
  • Outback Steakhouse
  • P. F. Chang's
  • Romano's Macaroni Grill
  • Ruby Tuesday

All of these restaurants include helpful information about the top 8 allergens (milk, egg, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, soy, and wheat), both in their restaurants and online. But it is also important to do your research before trying out any new restaurants to ensure reliability.

Wait: Who is 'AllergyEats' and why should I trust them?

If you're not familiar, AllergyEats describes itself as "the leading guide to allergy-friendly restaurants in the United States." That's a big claim? How can they possibly back this up? 

AllergyEats is a free, peer-based website and app (for both Apple and Android devices) where people find and rate restaurants based solely on their ability to accommodate food allergies. The site, app and related social media forums allow families with food allergies to help each other reduce guesswork and limit some of the anxiety surrounding dining out with food allergies. We're all about free, and you can't beat social support systems where you can get input from families like your own!

You can easily search restaurants in AllergyEats platforms by your location, so you can find allergy-friendly restaurants near home or around the country when you travel. As always, it's still important for you to ask questions of restaurant staff to make sure you're comfortable. Another family managing a less-severe food allergy might report that the restaurant met their needs, but their needs may not be the same as yours.

We think that's at least a great start when you're looking for a restaurant that might be able to accommodate your needs. As always, consider giving the restaurant a phone call first to ask them how they can meet your specific requests.All of these restaurants include helpful information about the top 8 allergens (milk, egg, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, soy, and wheat), both in their restaurants and online. But it is also important to do your research before trying out any new restaurants to ensure reliability.

What are your favorite allergy-friendly restaurants to dine at?

- Sarah


How an iPhone Can Help Manage Your Food Allergies

Posted 9.10.09 | Christine Graham-Garo

As anyone dealing with food allergies knows, grocery shopping and eating out can be daunting tasks. Fortunately, new technology is making managing food allergies a little easier. By making use of some handy iPhone apps you can get help identifying safe food options in the grocery store and when you are traveling or away from home.

Allergy Companion NoPeanut features a list of foods to avoid at popular chain restaurants in the United States and Canada, emergency and allergy restaurant cards in multiple languages, and links to information about allergens. Cost: $2.99.

Eat Safe! is designed for travelers with food allergies who don’t speak the language of the country they are visiting. It uses graphics to show what items people are allergic to, including Milk, Eggs, Peanuts, Tree Nuts, Fish, Shellfish, Soy and Wheat. Cost: $2.99.

iCanEat OnTheGo Gluten & Allergen Free(TM) helps you search for allergen free items from 15 fast food chains in the United States. The application allows users to select from one or any combination of the 9 most common allergens including eggs, fish, gluten, milk, peanuts, shellfish, soy, tree nuts and wheat. The app hides items that contain the selected allergen and lists only the safe options from a database of over 1,500 menu items at Arby's, Boston Market, Burger King, Chick-fil-A, Dairy Queen, Domino's, Dunkin' Donuts, KFC, McDonald's, Pizza Hut, Qdoba, Sonic, Subway, Taco Bell & Wendy's. Cost: $4.99.

Pepper Stuff Gluten-Free Restaurant Cards From Celiac Travel provides allergy cards in multiple languages that individuals with celiac disease can show at restaurants when they are traveling abroad. Cost: FREE.

WebArtisan Food Additives provides information about what several hundred common food additives are derived from and notes which ones are gluten-free. Cost: $3.99.

All of these apps are available for download in the iTunes store. Have you used any of these Food Allergy Apps or do you know of any others? Let us know in the comments section!

-Christine


Another Allergy Friendly State!

Posted 12.11.08 | Nutrition Specialist

Back in May you might have seen my colleague’s entry on allergy legislation that would require restaurants in the state of Massachusetts to notify people of possible allergens in their food while dining out. New Hampshire is the next state to jump on this allergy-free bandwagon.

Sen. Lou D’Allesandro (D-NH) is in the process of drafting a bill to make the state’s restaurants a bit more allergy friendly.

The bill would require all restaurants to “prominently display a poster about food allergy awareness in the staff area and to include on all menus a notice of the customer’s obligation to inform the server about any food allergies,” according to an article on seacoastline.com.

Sen. D’Allesandro’s bill is very similar to the Massachusetts bill, which was passed in the Massachusetts Senate in May and is now under consideration in the Massachusetts House of Representatives.

I am very excited about the continued focus on food allergies by government officials and will keep you posted on how this bill progresses!

- Nita


Food Allergies and Dining Out

Posted 7.19.17 | Guest Blogger

When it’s time to dine out, every parent with a child who suffers from food allergies has a hard time letting go of kitchen control.  This is because allergen avoidance is always the most necessary form of prevention and this is often easily accomplished in the comfort of your home. However, a late soccer practice, meeting, or simply just wanting to enjoy the cuisine of a favorite local restaurant can make allergen avoidance difficult. Eating out puts the responsibility of allergen on both the diner and the restaurant staff.

 

Research shows that there is ample opportunity for restaurants to improve their food allergy safety practices. According to the Food and Drug Administration Food Code, the person in charge at an establishment (i.e., the manager) should be knowledgeable about food allergies. We cannot guarantee that all staff will be knowledgeable, but that shouldn't discourage families from eating out. We want our children to be able to enjoy the typical and “normal” parts of everyday life, and there are a number of steps that we can take to be safe.

 

Fortunately, many large restaurant chains have picked up on how important it is to make sure they offer options and service to families managing food allergies. Many have standardized menus, which often include ingredient information, which can provide you and your family with safe, allergy-friendly food options.

 

Do Your Research

A great place to start is to research the restaurants you are interested in! Most major chain establishments have websites where you can view their menus before you visit. This gives you a chance to identify safe options for your little ones with food allergies before you go.

 

Keep in mind that websites may not be updated frequently and ingredients may change, so it’s always a good idea to speak to a manager at the location where you're interested in dining before you go. This will help you ensure that the restaurant really is food allergy-friendly and cross-contamination won’t be a problem.

Another great resource when doing research is AllergyEats, which describes itself as "the leading guide to allergy-friendly restaurants in the United States."

 

AllergyEats is a free, peer-based website and app (for both Apple and Android devices) where people find and rate restaurants based solely on their ability to accommodate food allergies. The site, app and related social media forums allow families with food allergies to help each other reduce guesswork and limit some of the anxiety surrounding dining out with food allergies. We're all about free, and you can't beat social support systems where you can get input from families like your own!

 

As always, it's still important for you to ask questions of restaurant staff and make requests to make sure you're comfortable. Another family managing a less-severe food allergy or an allergy to a different food might report that the restaurant met their needs, but their needs may not be the same as yours.

Always Double Check

As parents, we always want to make sure our kids are safe, so I recommend always checking to make sure the restaurant is still food allergy-friendly even if it’s a restaurant you dine at frequently. Always be sure to tell your server about all food allergies to ensure that you have a happy and healthy dining experience. Many times, they'll be happy to send the chef out to speak with you personally about your dietary restrictions!

 

Once you’ve identified a restaurant with potential, call them during non-peak dining hours (Fridays and Saturday afternoons are generally super-busy, so try a weeknight, which is typically slower). Ask to speak with the manager or a chef and find out if they can prepare a safe meal for your child. If they say "yes" don't be afraid to ask them what steps they'll take so that you can feel confident. Some parents prefer to “try out” the restaurant without the children to get a feel for their ability to accommodate. If you get the feeling that they are unwilling, unable or just don’t “get it,” move on.

 

In the meantime, you may want to prepare an allergy card for the chef that specifically lists your child’s allergies. Having a list of foods that aren’t safe for your child, and possibly a list of suitable substitutes for common ingredients, can make it easier for the chef to keep track of. This adds an additional reminder, particularly if you are dealing with multiple food allergies.

Go Prepared to Eat

Before you leave for the restaurant, bring a few staples in case the restaurant does not have everything you need. For some parents, bringing a safe food in a thermos or a safe sandwich is an excellent alternative. It's easy to bring a little dairy-free margarine and some vinegar and oil for salads, too! (Dressings often contain dairy, soy, wheat, nuts and/or seeds). Lastly, if your child has been prescribed an epinephrine auto-injector, make sure you have it with you before you leave for the restaurant.

 

Do you have any additional tips for eating out? Comment below!


More Allergy Legislation in the Works…

Posted 5.27.08 | Sarah O'Brien

Restaurants in the state of Massachusetts are on the way to becoming more allergy friendly.

A bill that requires training on food-allergy issues for restaurant staff and the placement of a tag line on all menus advising diners to notify wait staff of any allergy concerns is under review in Massachusetts.

The bill would also establish a program allowing restaurants to be certified as “food allergy friendly” if the establishment meets the strict requirements set forth by the law, including listing of all ingredients used in the restaurant on the menu. The bill, sponsored by state Senator Cynthia Stone Creem (D-Newton), has already passed in the Massachusetts state Senate and is under review in the state House of Representatives.

A similar law has already been established in New Jersey.

On the national level, U.S. Senator Christopher Dodd (D-CT) and U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) hosted a hearing entitled “Addressing the Challenge of Children with Food Allergies” on May 14. The purpose of which was to raise awareness to the need for increased funding of allergy research and training.

For more information and to listen to the testimonies that occurred at the hearing, visit Allergy Moms.

I hope, as I’m sure you do, that this legislation keeps on coming!

-Sarah


Chef Cards

Posted 6.17.14 | Rob McCandlish, RDN


How do you handle eating meals out at restaurants with food allergies? We were at a food allergy conference recently when we heard one of the speakers mention a great idea – a chef’s card. When you aren’t able to call the restaurant ahead of time, a chef’s card may be the best idea yet.

What is it?

The idea behind a chef’s card is simple: it’s a piece of paper you take with you when you eat out, and hand it to a restaurant’s wait staff or kitchen staff to explain your food allergy(ies). Some families have been doing this for years, but we really like the name “chef’s card,” and the idea of something other than a full piece of paper. A credit card-sized piece of paper is small and easy to have with you at all times, just in case.

A chef’s card allows you to explain in detail what foods you need to avoid. Rather than asking the wait staff to communicate your allergy to the kitchen, the wait staff can deliver the card to the chef or kitchen staff who will be preparing your food. It can be especially helpful in communicating a list of “trouble” ingredients that they may not realize contain your food allergen(s).

How can I make my own?

You can print your own chef’s cards on thick paper like card stock. Find a great template such as this interactive one from FARE. If you’re looking for a peanut allergy chef’s card, Allergy Free Table offers one here. Or to print your own, try a printable blank template, such as a packet of printable business cards or postcards that are already perforated. You’ll want to include your main food allergens and ingredients that are likely to include them. It’s also a good idea to leave space for the wait staff to write down your table number.

Have you found a chef’s card to be helpful?

- Rob


Web-based Food Allergy Resources

Posted 8.7.14 | Rob McCandlish, RDN


This is a guest post from Leslie Stiles. Leslie Stiles received her BS in English Literature at University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana and obtained her Masters in Human Nutrition from University of Illinois in Chicago. She works as a Senior Clinical Nutritionist at a children’s hospital in Chicago, IL.


A diagnosis of a food allergy may come as a shock to your family, and that shock may continue when you go to the grocery store and start to look at nutrition labels. You might find yourself asking “What can my kid eat?!”, “Will they be able to eat typical kid food like birthday cake and pizza?”, or “What will I pack them for school lunches?” The list of questions can be endless and overwhelming to say the least. Luckily, thanks to the world wide web, there are some accessible resources that will both educate and inspire you about allergen-free cooking and shopping.

This blog post is intended to present some tried and true resources that I often share with families. I encourage you all, as readers and family members of children with food allergies, to share your own tried and true resources in the comments section. It’s important for us to share information and help each other stay informed.

For all things allergy-related, the Food Allergy Research and Education organization (FARE) website is chock full of useful information. I recommend spending some time exploring all it has to offer and bookmarking it to refer to later.

Allergy Free Recipes

The Kids with Food Allergies website has created an easy-to-use, searchable recipe database. You can search for recipes that are free of the top 8 allergens and corn.

The American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology website has a lot of great information about food allergies, in addition to some tasty allergen-free recipes. Each recipe is marked with a key stating which allergens have been omitted.

Recipe Substitutions

If you think your child with a dairy and egg allergy has to miss out on your Great Aunt Mildred’s famous banana bread, think again… You may be able to substitute other ingredients for the butter and eggs. The Kids with Food Allergies website gives a good overview of the function of each allergen ingredient in a recipe and provides suggestions for good substitutions. Unfortunately, not all allergens have substitutions that will function in the same way, so the end product may not turn out exactly the same as the original, and you may want to find a new recipe.

Allergy Friendly Manufacturers

We are lucky to live in a time when there are more allergy-friendly manufacturers than ever before. Children’s Hospital of Orange County has created one of the best resources I’ve come across thus far listing all allergy-friendly food manufacturers. You can check it out here.

Eating out at Restaurants

Want to find allergy-friendly restaurants in your area? Then Allergy Eats is the place to go! You can simply select your food allergy, type in your address, and voila - you have restaurant options. Each restaurant receives a rating, both overall and per allergen. You can also rate a restaurant yourself. To make it even easier to use, Allergy Eats has created an app that can be downloaded onto your smartphone.

Again in the food allergy community, we rely on each other for information and to stay informed. Do you have a tried and true online resource that you’ve found helpful? If so, please share it in the comments section.

-Leslie Stiles, MS, RD, LDN

Image source



About Us

Food Allergy Living is a resource for parents of children with food allergies, brought to you by Nutricia, the makers of Neocate. For more in-depth information about our purpose & authors, see our About Food Allergy Living page.