[This AllergyEats Blog post guest written by Lisa Giuriceo, Facilitator of The Food Allergy and Asthma Support Group of North Jersey]
I am the parent of an eleven year old child with multiple food allergies to wheat, eggs, fish, peanuts, tree nuts, oats, rye, barley, sesame seeds, peas, and green beans. Our child was diagnosed with food allergies at nine months of age. From the beginning, my husband and I partnered with this philosphy: we would do all we could to provide our daughter with the tools to live a complete life while safely managing her food allergies. At the young age of 2-1/2 years old, our child had an anaphylactic reaction after consuming French fries at a restaurant in New York City. Thankfully, we had our Epi-pen with us and were able to get her immediate medical care at a city hospital. We thought we did all the right things as parents. We communicated our daughter’s allergies to the server and we were told the French fries would be safe for her to consume. However, we never spoke directly to the chef to find out that the fryer was indeed contaminated with wheat and egg allergens. After our feeling of guilt, we vowed never to make that mistake again.
My husband and I live an active lifestyle and we thoroughly enjoy dining out. We enjoy going to a restaurant to relax and have a wonderful time with our family and friends. Many cherished family memories have been made at restaurant tables over the years. However, any parent of a food allergic child will tell you that dining out safely can be a daunting task. Although years have passed since our daughter’s anaphylactic reaction, we always dine out with the memory of that terrible day of the reaction with us.
Throughout this eleven year long journey, we have discovered that Disney World is a good place to vacation because of the procedures in place at table service, sit down restaurants. At Disney, we are given the opportunity to speak directly with the chef to discuss our child’s allergies. After that discussion, she is served a safe meal free of her food allergens. This protocol at Disney World restaurants has allowed us to dine safely while on vacation.
It has not been so easy to find this service and awareness from restaurants elsewhere. After reading some positive review on the AllergyEats website, we discovered a true gem for food allergic diners, Legal Sea Foods. I must admit we were hesitatant from the start. It did not make sense to allow our child with a fish allergy to dine at a seafood restaurant. Read the rest of this entry »