Using the AllergyEats App and Website:
Is there a cost for using AllergyEats?
No. Use of this app and website is free.
Do I have to sign up to use the app or website?
You do not have to sign up to search the restaurant database, but you do need to sign up in order to rate a restaurant, save restaurants as favorites or others for future visits, as well as to follow another registered user whose ratings appeal to you. Signing up will also allow you to earn recognition points and receive periodic emails about new blog entries, etc. (if you choose to receive these).
Do I have to enter my allergies?
While you do not have to enter your specific allergies to search for a restaurant, the more information you enter, the more customized and detailed results you will receive. We particularly encourage you to enter your allergies when you rate a restaurant as that will benefit future users of the site with similar allergies as yours.
What if my allergy isn’t listed?
If your allergy isn’t listed, please Add Other Allergies. Regardless, AllergyEats is still valuable for a user without one of the listed food allergies or intolerances. To understand why, view What do the ratings mean?
Is AllergyEats used by people with severe food allergies, mild to moderate sensitivities, or lifestyle choices? How can I trust the results?
When visitors to AllergyEats become registered users, they are asked to check off all the allergens they are avoiding. We do not differentiate between food allergies, intolerances, or sensitivities, nor do we inquire if their dietary restrictions are lifestyle-based or related to other conditions. That said, the AllergyEats community is primarily comprised of individuals with life-threatening allergies or celiac disease, and our registered users are dedicated to finding accommodating restaurants for themselves and others in the community. The comments section of each review is a particularly helpful way to learn more about a specific diner’s experience. In fact, if you find a diner whose profile is similar to yours and you find their ratings helpful, you can favorite them and keep track of their ratings on your profile page.
The results of my search aren’t near the location I typed in. Why?
A few things could be causing this problem. Fortunately, they’re easy to solve.
1) Please double-check the spelling of the city entered and make sure you have the right 2-letter state code.
2) If you entered a ZIP code, please make sure it is the correct ZIP for the location you wish to search.
3) Check the search radius area on the search screen to see how wide of a search field is being returned to you. The default is a 20 mile radius. If the most highly recommended restaurants are on the outskirts of that search region, they may be too far away from you. Shrinking the search radius can solve this problem.
What should I do if I get too many results when I search for a restaurant?
Try decreasing your search radius (default is 20 miles) on the search screen.
I typed in the name of a restaurant on the search, but it’s not coming up in the results. Why?
A number of issues can cause this, but most are an easy fix.
1) Double-check that you’ve entered the correct city and state or zip code.
2) The spelling has to be exactly the same as that in the database when entering a restaurant name. Try entering a portion of the name (it doesn’t have to be the beginning) and running the search again. (e.g. Try “Paul” or “rama” instead of “Pauls Burgerama” since the database may only recognize “Paul’s Burga-rama”).
3) The database is updated regularly but not instantaneously. If this is a new restaurant, or if you believe it is simply missing, please click Add a Restaurant.
Am I guaranteed to have a safe meal at an AllergyEats highly-rated restaurant?
No. AllergyEats is a guide, not a guarantee. AllergyEats ratings have been created by your food-allergic peers and their families, NOT necessarily food allergy or dining experts. Further, even the best restaurants and dining facilities can make mistakes. ALWAYS bring your allergy medication and speak to restaurant staff when dining out. We recommend you also become familiar with our important Dining Out Tips.
Can I access AllergyEats on my mobile phone or tablet?
Yes. AllergyEats has FREE mobile apps for iPhone, iPad and Android smartphones and tablets, which can be found in the iTunes store and Google Play. While we do not have a dedicated app for Blackberry or Windows-based smartphones and other non-iOS or Android devices, the responsive design of AllergyEats makes it easily accessible and usable via your mobile web browser.
How can I get an answer to a question not listed in the FAQ’s?
Please click Contact Us and we will respond as quickly as possible.
How can I communicate a suggestion I have for your site?
We strongly encourage your feedback – positive or negative! Please click Contact Us and let us know what you think and how we can make AllergyEats more useful to you and the entire community.
Understanding the Results of a Restaurant Search:
What do the ratings mean?
The AllergyEats “Overall” Allergy Rating is denoted on a 1-5 scale as a measure of how well that specific restaurant has accommodated patrons with food allergies or intolerances, regardless of the specific allergy or intolerance, based on the reviews from actual food-allergic diners and their restaurant experiences. This rating is not derived from food allergy or dining experts, but from the broader community of food-allergic and food-intolerant diners. This rating is also not specific to what is or isn’t on the menu, whether specific allergens are present onsite, or anything related to the general taste and quality of the food. This rating reflects the “wisdom of the crowd” and is intended to reflect the real world experiences of the food allergy community as it pertains to the success (or lack thereof) of the food allergy accommodations made by the restaurant.
How can a restaurant be allergy-friendly if they serve the offending allergen?
Most restaurants that serve individuals with food allergies and intolerances do have an individual’s allergens on-site. However, truly competent allergy-friendly restaurants have been trained on how to accommodate food-allergic diners and have well-defined, proper procedures and protocols in place to help keep food-allergic diners safe. Such restaurants will help individuals select the right dish that doesn’t contain their allergens, offer suitable alternatives or alterations to a dish if possible, and ensure that cross-contact with the individual’s allergen doesn’t happen in the kitchen or elsewhere. [Note, however, that no restaurant should ever be deemed “allergy-safe” and there are no guarantees of a safe meal, even at the most allergy-friendly restaurants. Always bring all appropriate medications.]
What is the “Chain” rating?
The chain rating, where listed, is the same as the Overall rating except that it is a measure of ALL the U.S. units of the chain to which that restaurant belongs, as opposed to the rating of just that individual unit (reflected in the Overall rating).
What are the allergy-specific ratings and why are they different from the Overall rating?
Allergy-specific ratings, where listed, are calculated similarly to the “Overall” rating, except that the results are based only on the feedback of users with that specific allergy or intolerance. These ratings are only displayed for the specific allergies which the user has indicated in the search and only if individuals with those specific allergies have already rated the restaurant. Once again, this is a measure of how well the restaurant was able to accommodate these patrons, regardless of whether or not the specific allergens are present onsite.
Why do some of my search results have allergy-specific ratings and other do not?
Search result listings will only show an allergy-specific rating if the user has checked one or more of the allergy boxes on the search page and if others with the same allergy have already rated the restaurant.
What do I do if I disagree with the ratings?
By all means, rate your own experiences on AllergyEats! Your voice counts – as does every single voice in the food allergy and intolerance community. We truly believe that we are all in this together! The more ratings AllergyEats users enter, the better able AllergyEats is to help others make informed decisions about whether or not a particular restaurant might be a good (or bad) choice for their dining needs.
A restaurant came up as highly rated overall, but did not include ratings from individuals with the same allergies as mine. Is the rating still valid?
In our experience, we have found that most restaurants that can properly accommodate individuals with one specific allergy have the knowledge and training to accommodate people with others as well. However, this is not universally true, particularly if a restaurant’s “theme” involves a heavy focus on a specific food or ingredient that some may be allergic to. Therefore, we suggest that users consider this information in context. That said, the more positive reviews there are, the more strongly we would suggest considering that restaurant as a possibility and calling them for more information.
There aren’t enough ratings in my area. What can I do about that? Do mine even matter?
Absolutely, yours matter! Every region in the country that has a lot of ratings started with a few individuals adding their own. With almost a million restaurants in the United States, there are bound to be many restaurants that are not yet rated by a user and some regions of the country with fewer ratings than others. Feel free to spread the word about AllergyEats, knowing that the more people who use the app or website, the better they both are in helping everyone find allergy-friendly restaurants. (If you want materials or have questions about sharing AllergyEats with others, please click Request AllergyEats Materials.)
How are the ratings determined?
Ratings are based solely on the answers food-allergic diners have given to three questions related to how a restaurant accommodated their food allergy restrictions. Ratings do not reflect the quality of the food, price versus value, or anything besides the restaurant’s accommodations of patrons’ food allergies. Using a proprietary model that weighs the responses to the three questions asked of each rater, and averaging all the ratings of each given restaurant, AllergyEats determines the Overall Rating for every individual restaurant in the U.S. (as well as chain ratings and allergen-specific ratings). While individuals can rate a restaurant multiple times, only their most recent rating will count in the calculation (their comments of each individual experience will remain, however).
What influence do the restaurants have on their ratings?
Restaurants have no influence on their allergy-friendliness ratings. These are derived 100% by users.
At what rating score does AllergyEats certify a restaurant as “allergy-friendly?”
AllergyEats does not certify restaurants, nor does it define what level makes a restaurant “allergy-friendly.” The ratings reflect scores on a scale of allergy-friendliness that can be compared between restaurants. It is up to each individual user to decide at what rating level they are comfortable with a given restaurant.
What does Report mean next to a user’s comment and when should I use this?
AllergyEats restaurant ratings and comments are designed to be solely related to the allergy-friendliness of restaurants, not other aspects such as quality of food, attitude of staff, cost, etc. (unless these are directly related to food allergy issues). While the restaurant ratings always reflect this (due to our ratings process) and most of the comments do as well, sometimes a comment slips through that has nothing to do with food allergies. In these cases, we ask the community to help us help you by flagging these comments for us using the Report button. If a user believes a comment is not relevant to food allergies, he or she should click Report. That will then flag the AllergyEats team who will determine whether that comment should be removed (as irrelevant to food allergies) or not.
Rating a Restaurant:
User participation in rating restaurants is the backbone of AllergyEats. Every time a user rates a restaurant, it helps the entire food allergy community make more informed and more comfortable dining decisions. The more people who rate, the greater the value to all of us. This is a community effort. We are all in this together! In addition, the more ratings AllergyEats receives, the more attention these ratings get from the restaurant community, helping “underperformers” realize where their deficiencies are and how valuable it would be for their reputation and for their finances to correct those deficiencies and become more allergy-friendly.
Why do I have to become a “registered” user to rate a restaurant?
We need AllergyEats users to register before rating restaurants in order to maintain the integrity of the ratings process by preventing double-counting and “ratings fraud.” Becoming a registered user only takes a minute or so and your ratings help our entire food allergy community.
How often can I rate a specific restaurant?
Every user is encourage to rate every restaurant after each visit. While only the most recent rating of each individual restaurant will count toward that restaurant’s overall allergy-friendliness rating (replacing those before it by the same user), all of the comments from every visit will continue to be displayed on AllergyEats.
What if I want to change my rating of a restaurant?
Users can change their restaurant ratings simply by re-rating that restaurant with an up-to-date experience. The new rating will replace all prior ratings of that restaurant from the user, though all the comments that user has added from every experience will remain.
If I answer ‘no’ to the question asking whether or not the restaurant could accommodate me, why do I need to answer the other questions to submit my rating?
To get an accurate overall picture of a restaurant through the rating process, we need to ask that all three questions be answered. Further, a ‘no’ answer to the first question does not imply any particular answer to the second question (and answering the third is still relevant), so it is still important that we receive your responses to all three questions.
Creating a Profile or Logging-In:
Is my personal information shared with 3rd parties?
No. Your information is kept private.
What is the benefit of becoming a registered user?
The most important benefit of becoming a registered user is the ability to rate restaurants. The more people who rate restaurants, the better AllergyEats becomes for all of us in the food allergy community. In addition, by becoming a registered user you can “favorite” restaurants that appeal to you (for future reference), as well as follow other raters whose reviews and/or allergy profile may appeal to you. Registered users can also opt in to receive emails regarding new features and blog posts, and will also earn “recognition points” when contributing to the AllergyEats community.
What are Recognition Points and how do I earn them?
We use Recognition Points to recognize and reward registered users who have been most helpful in adding value to the AllergyEats community. Recognition Points are earned via the following criteria:
- Become a Registered User
- Rate restaurants with comments
- Have one of your reviews marked “Helpful” by another user
- Provide AllergyEats with a successful report (noting a restaurant that needs to be added or deleted from the database, or correcting information on an existing listing)
- Upload an avatar or picture to your profile
- Share reviews on social media
Outside of becoming a registered user and uploading an avatar or picture to your profile, which are one-time in nature, each instance of the other criteria will earn you Recognition Points.
We also consider awarding discretionary points to users who, in other ways, help the AllergyEats community.
App or Website Errors:
Why can’t I find a specific restaurant I’m looking for in the search results?
If you can’t find a specific restaurant, consider the following:
1) If you entered a restaurant name on the search screen, is it spelled correctly? Try entering a portion of the name (it doesn’t have to be the beginning) and running the search again. (e.g. Try “Paul” or “rama” instead of “Pauls Burgerama” since the database may only recognize “Paul’s Burga-rama”)
2) Did you enter the correct town, 2-letter state abbreviation or zip code?
3) If it is a new restaurant, it may not be in the database yet. Please notify us to Add a Restaurant.
4) Sometimes we simply have an error in the database. Please notify us to Correct Restaurant Info.
What should I do if your results show a restaurant that I know has closed?
Please go to Correct Restaurant Info so we can update our database.
How do I notify you of an error I’ve found on your site?
We greatly appreciate feedback of any kind, especially if you’ve found an error. Please let us know of the error via Contact Us and we’ll address it as quickly as possible.