15 November 2012

Transparent Menus, please.

Have you ever seen a food allergy guide at a restaurant?
<--------That is what it looks like, sometimes, if they even have one at all, yet they say "dealing with food allergies is easy." 
If a food facility even has this, it's a step in the right direction. Hopefully it's up to date. 

Imagine walking into a restaurant, really hungry and having to navigate a menu like that and cross reference it to the actual menu, and if you have food allergies that aren't on their list (usually 8), you almost want to shoot yourself. 

As a "foodal" (food allergic person) we have to ask for a food allergy guide (as I said, if it is available) and when they hand it us it has columns and dots and you have to start cross referencing every little thing- It almost makes us lose my appetite. The buck stops for us as soon as we read things like "creamy" and "pasta" and "corm"- all part of top 10 food allergens. While it sounds fantastic... we have a new concern: "Can I feed my hunger and eat here safely." 

After 20 minutes of cross referencing menu items on some of these allergen guides, we think we've come up with something "safe" and then the server informs us, "We don't have that" or "that does have nuts in it" or "we've changed the ingredients." 
Then the cross checks to the kitchen and the waiting, the endless waiting and all the questions... 

This is what my life is like and 220 million others in the world as well.

"TRANSPARENT menus and foods" are on the demand, not just for the food allergic but for a huge group of consumers who want to know what they are putting in their body. We feel we have the right to know what we is going in our bodies. Some of us have to know, because it's do or die- literally. Even a trace amount could send us to the hospital. 

Here is a good transparent menu description:
For Example: Salmon with Steamed vegetables .. Salmon, olive oil, rosemary, lemon juice, salt, pepper, yellow squash, zucchini, butter.

We'd also like to know that staff can confidently serve us,  instead of being "almost sure" or with "I think so. You should be good." Those are not the answers that breed confidence. It's best if the chef or manager or both have time to come out and speak to us.

A recent comment from a parent with a food allergic child on developing a "transparent menu"- also related to the certification process.  "Thank you "Food Allergy Gal" for being a leader. As the parent of a seven year old with severe food allergies, this training is invaluable. We would absolutely frequent restaurants that have passed your certification. It will make our family dining experience MUCH less stressful and MUCH more enjoyable for our little girls. She is a trooper, but it breaks my heart each time her options are severely limited. I look forward to updates!"

Read this article from a university student who is asking for transparent menus as well: 

Always hire a certified special dietary needs consultant to guarantee safety of guests and your restaurant. LaraHolland, is an approved, certified leading provider of allergy management programs for commercial kitchens.  Get an Electronic, easy to update, easy to read, AllerSmartMenu. 

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