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"nuts" and other allergies

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
Had an Incident a couple of years ago where I had a 3 day conference for a major corporate client, met with the oganizer a couple of weeks before and was informed that on the 2nd day one of the participants was deathly allergic to peanuts to the extent that at her office there are notices posted "if you had peanut butter this morning brush your teeth".
I was asked to insure that no peanut butter to be served at that mornings breakfast, seems easy enough until you think about it, I had to remove peanut butter from the restaurant, room service, staff room, unofficial staff room, secret staff stash, double secret staff stash that Chef doesn't know about (yeh right) just in case someone asked for it and a helpful staff member got some for them (not likely the staff where unionized) all because of 1 person, but it had to be done, having someone taken out of the banquet room on a gurney can really screw up your timing.
So the questions are
  • How far should we go to accomodate 1 person
  • Can we ever promise that all the food we serve if allergy free
  • Can we refuse service without being accused of discrimination
  • Is it ok to tell 1 person in a large party to brown bag it
Any thoughts?
post #2 of 9
Researchers are not sure why there seems to be an increase of severe nut and peanut allergy. I would be interested in knowing how many people on average suffer from this allergy.
That said, it is a very real problem for some people. Untreated, sufferers can perish very quickly from anaphylactic shock. Most people who know they have this allergy carry a quick dose epinephrin shot, know as an epipen, to treat themselves if they inadvertently come in contact with the allergen they are sensitive to. They know that it's almost impossible to avoid all contact with nuts. I sympathize with these folks. Everyday living must be like walking through a mine field all the time.
It seems to me that you could offer to make every reasonable effort to eliminate nuts and peanuts from the facility, but that since you are a large establishment serving many clients and employing many workers, you cannot guarantee that all nut residue will be eliminated from the building.
As far as refusing service, you could be slitting your own throat with that one. If it gets around that you are unwilling to make reasonable accommodations for guests with food sensitivities, your bookings might take a nose dive.

So... to answer.....
1. do what is reasonably prudent to satisfy your client and guests
2. you can never promise that all food is allergy free-there are many different food allergies that people suffer from
3. you can refuse service, but wind up looking like a big jerk to any other potential client.
4. don't tell one person to brown bag it-it's ungracious and makes them look and feel singled out. Make a reasonable effort to help, but acknowledge that a person's health issues are their personal business.

Liquored up and laquered down,
She's got the biggest hair in town!


Liquored up and laquered down,
She's got the biggest hair in town!

post #3 of 9
If the person is really allergic to peanuts, I'd recommend that you tell them that a lot of food is processed in plants that also handle peanuts and peanut products, and that you can't guarantee that there won't be peanut residue somewhere, and recommend that they not attend. There really isn't any way you can ensure that everything is "peanut free".

About the worst thing you can do is say something that sounds like you'll try to accommodate them, then have them get a severe reaction. It would most certainly be lawyer-time.

Some people are so allergic that even dust from peanuts that used to be there can send them into shock. For someone that's truly allergic to peanuts, just serving them food that doesn't contain nuts might not be enough.

post #4 of 9
i usually use the "dishes marked (n) contain nuts. For all other dishes: nuts have not been used in the preperation of this dish, However, it was prepared in a multi-kitchen environment that is not free from nuts and therefore no guarantees are made or implied as to its safety"

infact thats on the bottom of my menu's word for word

my lawyer said its pretty much suit proof
post #5 of 9
I always get worried about this kind of stuff. My cousin as well as my sister's Boyfriend are very allergic and I dont want to endanger them.

My question though... I like to fry with peanut oil b/c of the high smoke point. Will french fries fried in peanut oil trigger the allergy? I assume so, but I am not really sure
post #6 of 9
last week I booked a vegan/celeiac 3 day conference, end of April.....
the next day I booked a vegetarian (head table celeiac) wedding reception.....

one of my dear friends/clients has severe gluten allergies, as in if a crouton is placed in a salad and picked out, she eats the salad.....gets sick for 5 days+....or something breaded is fried in a french fry get the picture. So for their larger buffet events everything is gluten free. No contamination from's been interesting working out menus.
She is outrageously appreciative that I came up with gluten free crabcakes, chicken wings, dacquise desserts.....amerettis, flourless choc. cake....etc....

chain restaurants have jumped on to the 'special diet train" .....guess where people with allergies go....and take their friends......

Peanut allergies are ugly......deadly.....
cooking with all your senses.....
cooking with all your senses.....
post #7 of 9

Peanut allergies

About peanut oil - of the 1.5 million people in the U.S. that are afflicted with a peanut allergy, most of them are able to consume peanut oil. Allergic reactions are the body's response to the protiens in foods, peanuts included. If a person is hyper sensitive then oil is a problem, however they most likely will know what it is they can or cannot have. As for serving them, I actually don't feel that it is impolite to refuse service, especially if you use alot of what they are allergic to. I work at a chinese restaurant and we use alot of seasame oil. If a person comes in that informs us that they are deathly allergic to seasame, then we politely inform them that we will not serve them as it is simply not safe (not to mention our *** if something were to happen). If they are with a group of people we welcome them to bring in outside food or even let them order delivery so that they will not be left out... a nice comprimise I feel.
post #8 of 9

i would think that

peanut oil would be a serious risk
wh about using something like ricebran oil or canola for safety reasons

when i need to do celiac baking i always use differnt bowls and equipment to make stuff on.
I think allergens have become so prevalent now because we have so much education on stuff that we didnt have before, that there are so many more sprays, pesticides and toxens used on food crops now than ever before, We disenfect everything within an inch of our lives now , far more than in the past and our bodies have lost a lot of resistance to things and the allergins are a way of telling our bodies that there is a foreign invader that it doesnt like , lets get rid of it. Serious Allergins are very scary stuff, Shellfish is another allergin that can be life threatening.
Over here you cant sue or be sued for stuff like this thank goodness, but there is a real awareness about keeping your customers well , safe and happy and not killing them ....... a dead customer is not good for repeat business:rolleyes: People with serious Allergies are generally very good at asking questions of hospitality operations in order to keep themselves safe over here.
when life hands you lemons, make lemon gelee, lemon meringue pie, or any other dessert your heart desires
when life hands you lemons, make lemon gelee, lemon meringue pie, or any other dessert your heart desires
post #9 of 9
just catered a lunch for an on going of the participants in the conference has soy allergies.

Easy enough right? thank goodness my dressings are normally olive oil.
She couldn't have Hellmans Mayo. Again one of the options was herb chevre veggy sandwich on bakery bread (apparently the bakery does not use soy).
Cookies were made in house with butter
Tortilla chips were fried in corn oil.

Mayo. easy enough to leave out, but if you don't know all the sanwiches would have it.

Peanut.....that's really rough.
cooking with all your senses.....
cooking with all your senses.....
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