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Food Allergies--a thread open to all

Poll Results: How much responsibility does a restaurant have for a customer's food allergies?

 
  • 0% (0)
    The restaurant should be responsible for accomodating a customer's allergies
  • 40% (12)
    The restaurant should do their best but not be legally responsible
  • 20% (6)
    The restaurant's servers should be helpful but in no way liable
  • 40% (12)
    It is the customer's responsibility to watch out for themself
30 Total Votes  
post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
Food allergies have been a popular or maybe unpopular subject lately. As a non-pro, I was wondering what you all think as far as how much a restaurant should accomodate anybody's particular risks. Perhaps the poll options don't cover every shade of the question, but just wanting to have the question out there, with amateurs included.
post #2 of 17

give a hug and send them packing

What did you expect from me!

Regards
post #3 of 17
I think both parties have a responsibility.

The allergic person needs to ask about foods/additives they are sensitive too. Restaurants need to provide accurate responses. If a restaurant provides false information that leads to harming the diner, I think the restaurant has some liability.

I don't have a problem with a restaurant declining to serve a customer who they feel they can't safely accommodate.

But both parties have responsibility, just that the restaurant has to be given a chance to respond on their ability to handle the limitation.
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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post #4 of 17
Thread Starter 
I don't think it is right for me to ask a restaurant to change what they are doing to accomodate me. If they agree to it, that's nice. If not, I understand completely. I wouldn't go to McDonalds asking for a vegan burger.
post #5 of 17
I try to accommodate those with allergies. I tell them to call me the day before or the morning of their visit. I have a regular on Fridays who is allergic to pepper. We have the same menu every Friday of Fried chicken, a fish dish, mashed and gravy, etc. I hold some gravy and potatoes and a fish portion with no pepper. He wrote a note to the board of directors of the restaurant thanking me and the restaurant. Another who is allergic to blue cheese who I look out for (I make a few dishes with blue cheese)..it is just good PR IMHO. But liability? No as long as nothing is misrepresented, the chef is not a doctor if the person's allergies are life threatening they should be responsible enough to find out what the food they are eating contains before they eat it.
post #6 of 17
It loathes me to hear, even at silly places like P.F. Changs, the pretty much sounds like a tape recorded "speal" of "any food allergies" line...

you have a food allergy....."ask" if a dish has it in it....


back when I was a kid (about a few years ago!) people didn't have allergies.......they managed.

they wiped their own *** too....and kids actively traded, more than penny stocks, PB&J's at the lunch table......


now, empathizing with a restaurant owner/chef...if a customer says "hey I'm allergic to X can you leave it out" .....I say "yes, but it might affect the overall taste but I'd be happy to leave it out"

Pure ignorance is doing something like I see some people do, and people request silly silly things like at a thai place...request no peanuts because im allergic in a dish with Peanuts in the title!
post #7 of 17
Information is the key. A lot of servers (or cook staff in chain type places, for instance) don't know what the ingredients are of the food they serve. If the proper information is given, the customer can make appropriate decisions.
post #8 of 17
I choose number 2.
post #9 of 17
As a sufferer of nut allergies I beleive it is my responsibility to find out if nuts are present within a dish although most places do now include a Contains nuts on the menu which is useful.

I have always found everyone to be helpful when I ask if food contains nuts - even going to check if they are not sure.

Most places will even leave them off if they are just included as a garnish etc.
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post #10 of 17

Both Are Responsible

Having worked at a 4 star/diamond it galls me at times what some lesser quality establishments do. Omissions are not that difficult.

A friend and I went in to lunch. We ordered our meals. My friend plainly stated that he was allergic to onion to the server. He said "Please, understand, I am not simply allergic to onions, I'm deathly allergic."

We never made it to our main dish. The salad with no dressing had onions in it somewhere. We spent our afternoon in the emergency room.

Unfortunately, for the restaurant they footed the bill for the visit. Luckily, for them, we had both worked in the industry and they only paid the deductible and there was no lawsuit.

We aren't sure if the server never told the kitchen, if the lettuce was next to the salad, if the salads were premade and the onion was removed off the top leaving the juice of the onion on the greens.

In this case it could just have been better server awareness training. Many people out there are not severe allergy sufferers and think - so what's the big deal with a little itch or rash.

Thanks for the thread.

Marian
post #11 of 17
Number 2 for me
post #12 of 17
Once again Yeti, you pose an intriquing question.
It is interesting to see that both numbers 2 and 4 are tied with the most votes.
I even get this in my stores at least once a week. I have people that have allergies with shellfish. But the love fin fish. Never the two should ever meet. I hold extensive training with my staff about the dangers of cross contamination. I make them understand how important it is that they even change the ice in the cases and to not even set anything down on anything that has not been sanitized. No matter how busy they are.

Great Question, Yeti. Looking forward to your next one.
Fishmonger Ran
"The health benefits of eating fish, far out-weigh any risks of eating it"
http://dontfearfish.blogspot.com
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Fishmonger Ran
"The health benefits of eating fish, far out-weigh any risks of eating it"
http://dontfearfish.blogspot.com
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post #13 of 17
Maybe people once were also less aggressive and vulgar, too.
I'm not allergic to any food but i'm quite a bit older than you, for sure, and i knew a woman who would probably be in her 90s now, who was deathly allergic to cotton, of all things. She had to be very careful because in those days people were not aware of allergies or of anaphylactic shock and when she would ask if there was margarine in a dish the waiter would sometimes say "no, of course not, only butter" even when the dish did have margarine. Margarine often has cottonseed oil in it and she would have to get an ambulance in those cases.

So it's not true that people didn;t have allergies or that they managed. Probably fewer had allergies than today (more people were breastfed once, which probably prevents many allergies, and we're exposed to loads of crap in the environment and in our "food" that probably induces some allergies and they weren't in the past) and certainly there weren't as many people wanting to have allergies. But those that do and those that did frequently risk and risked their lives because of the glibness of some cooks and waiters and even "friends".
"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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post #14 of 17
I can't pick one poll option. I guess that I would have to choose option four, that if you have an allergy you are the best person to defend yourself from it. That said if, as a customer, you are assured that your allergy can be worked around and it is not -- the restaurant should indeed bare some of the responsibility.

I was diagnosed (wrongly, as it turns out) more than ten years ago as shaving a shell fish allergy. This meant that I had to take some serious measures to protect my self. It became pretty easy to spot a resto that was able to deal with my problems. My fav Japanese place has it in their infrastructure to run a frier that no shell fish touches. They even kept a small amount bonito free "dashi"." That inspires confidence. What makes me nervous is when a server insists that an allergy can be accommodated without asking details on the condition or without checking with the kitchen.

--Al
post #15 of 17
Interesting question, although I don't think the poll options (or really any poll options) can fully answer this question. First and foremost, I think it is the customer's responsibility to watch out for their own allergies. If you have a peanut allergy, don't order a PB&J, don't order Pad Thai, don't order Kung Pao Chicken. Common sense, but it really seems to be forgotten nowadays. Secondly, I do think a server should be helpful to the customer to find a meal that will not include whatever allergy that customer has brought to the attention of the server (part 1 again). That requires the server to be informed on what ingredients are in what dish, and if they do not know, they should not hesitate to go to the back of the house and find out. Finally, I think the restaurant should try to be as accomadating as possible with the customers regarding their allergy, but I have seen some customers really push it to the limit. I wouldn't be surprised if someone with an onion allergy would order onion rings, hold the onions. I've heard stupider things out of customers' mouths. The issue really is on the customer with the allergy, though. I don't think a server, chef, or restaurant should be responsible for someone else's issue.
"Not all chemicals are bad. Without chemicals such as hydrogen and oxygen, for example, there would be no way to make water, a vital ingredient in beer." -Dave Barry
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"Not all chemicals are bad. Without chemicals such as hydrogen and oxygen, for example, there would be no way to make water, a vital ingredient in beer." -Dave Barry
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post #16 of 17
Thread Starter 
Ken, your signature quoting Dave Barry is great!!!!

I have had an allergy that was life-threatening, and I voted the 4th option. I voted that because I'm not going to let my life depend on another person's knowledge or lack thereof, and I don't think anybody in the food biz should be responsible for something that serious.
post #17 of 17
Wow, I have recently had an experience regarding a food allergy and a restaurant.

I was on vacation at DisneyWorld and on Day 3 we went to eat at the Yak and Yeti in Animal Kingdom. We ordered the Mahi Mahi. Here is how it is listed on the menu.

"Crispy Mahi Mahi - Filet of mahi mahi, Japanese bread crumbs, Cantonese sweet and sour sauce, jasmine rice and stir-fried veggies. - $19.99"

I am severely allergic to peanuts. Since this was a new restaurant, I had my boyfriend taste the food first. He thought the sauce was questionable and we ended up asking the waitress if there were any peanuts in it. I took her word for it and ate a couple of bites of mahi mahi dipped in it. After about 5-10 minutes I knew i didn't feel right. We tried to make it back to our hotel, but I didn't make it. On the bus ride over I had to get them to stop and I ended up getting sick in some bushes in front of everyone. The bus left us. I felt dizzy and my heart was racing. I was having an anaphylactic reaction but luckily did not go into shock. Eventually, we got back to our hotel room and I was doped up on Benadryl and slept for a good 6 hours. I was also beet red. The next day we were going home, so essentially that one meal ruined our whole day and we were only there for 3 days total.

I just think that the wait staff should be better trained in matters like this and should be more careful. I did call WDW to complain about this, but never heard anything back. Even though I did learn my lesson (I should ask the chef straight out), I think restaurants should be more careful and educate their staff better.
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