Food allergies versus baby food! How do you solve this conundrum?
I read a fascinating article from the Star newspaper in Australia (no relation to the Star weekly up here in the States). It pits a mother trying to bring baby food into a restaurant against a restaurateur who says she can’t allow it due to potential food allergy issues with her customers.
Given that AllergyEats is a community of individuals dealing with food allergies, yet also a group comprised mostly of parents, I found it fascinating just to wonder which side our readers would support. I think this could be a really profound discussion and strongly urge you to share your opinion. Please read the article and post your thoughts by clicking on Reply or Comments below. You can also share your opinions on our Facebook page, but I’ll end up re-posting them here anyway.
Here is the article:
Policy leaves bad taste
By Nicole Precel
A FIRST-time mother feels discriminated against after she was asked to leave a Williamstown cafe for feeding her child mashed baby food.
Simone Corbett, Croydon, said she had taken her eight-month-old daughter Chelsea, her husband and mother-in-law to Williamstown for a day out on 10 July.
She said when they entered Ferguson Street Provisions she was treated very well until she brought out a tin of Spaghetti Oops and SPC fruit cups.
“I sat there shocked for a while. I spoke to the manager and she said I was able to feed her pureed food,” she said. “But they start from pureed and then go to mashed.”
Mrs Corbett said the spaghetti mashed very easily and was OK for her daughter to eat, but was unsure of the spaghetti on the children’s menu and how her daughter would react to it.
“I have a responsibility to feed my baby, we were going to order, my mother-in-law was with us, my husband, we weren’t just using their café as a stopping point, we were ready to stay and get out of the cold,” she said.
Mrs Corbett said she was extremely embarrassed and felt she was targeted.
She said she came for a tourist day out after Mrs Corbett saw an ad about a baby store. “It took us over an hour to get there. I quite often go to Williamstown, it’s left a bad taste in my mouth, why would I want to go back there,” she said.
Ferguson Street Provisions owner Linda Coppola said her cafe specifically didn’t allow foreign food coming into the cafe, other than pureed baby food, to cater for the many customers with food allergies.
“We’ve got an insurance food safety program and are also catering to people with special needs,” she said. “We’ve got people with children that have allergies, they are grateful they have that policy implemented and they can be safe.”
Ms Coppola said there were notices on the windows and also on every table in the restaurant.
“This is our policy,” she said. “We do cater for a lot of people who have allergies, because we like to control the café and what comes into it – not to be nasty to children – we try to accommodate them as much as we can.”
She said the cafe catered for people with a range of intolerances including gluten intolerances, allergies to capsicums, and people with Celiac disease.
“We serve that food here, but if we serve it, we can make sure it’s safe for those people,” she said.
She said peanuts in particular were dangerous, and if someone brought a peanut butter sandwich into the cafe and then the child smeared it under the table, it could be disastrous if a customer with a peanut allergy came into the cafe. “We just want to be safe for everyone,” she said. “We love kids, it’s not that we have anything against children at all.”
So what do you think?
Is the restaurateur right that she needs to keep out foreign foods to protect food allergic diners? Should the mother be allowed to feed her baby food in the small space it would require? Is the restaurateur overreacting, yet still in the right as this is a stated policy on the windows and tables? And why is pureed food allowed in? Do you know of any similar situations or restaurants that would likely enforce a similar policy?
Please take part in this discussion. You can directly address the questions I’ve posed or share any other opinions you’ve got on the subject. I think this could be a very interesting dialog. (And if you know of anyone else who you think would like to see this, please forward the link to them – File, Send, Link by Email… on Internet Explorer.) Again, just click on Reply or Comments below.
And after you’re done sharing your opinons, or at least reading this post and comments, please go to the main AllergyEats site (www.allergyeats.com) and rate any restaurants you’ve dined at recently. As always, I would remind everyone that each new rating strengthens the value of AllergyEats and helps all of us.