Food Allergy Counseling

Food Allergy Counseling
Sloane Miller, Food Allergy Counselor (Picture © Noel Malcolm 2013)

Friday, July 24, 2009

Cautionary Tale for Both Patron & Restaurant

The other night, the bartender of a restaurant I frequent, told me the resto had just had an allergic experience that would interest me.

A couple came in with about five other people and they all sat and ordered. The woman identified herself as anaphylactic to nuts. The kitchen, the bartender said, went out of their way to create a safe dish for this patron. They used clean pans and clean utensils and the head chef made her dish himself. The table was served and the allergic patron proceeded to taste her boyfriend’s pasta, which had walnut pesto. (The BF's pasta dish was identified as walnut pesto on the menu - I just checked). According to the bartender, the allergic patron started yelling at the waiter, “Why didn’t you tell me HIS dish had nuts?” And then: “Does anyone have an Epi-pen?” The restaurant directed her to the nearest ER where she proceeded to go with her boyfriend.

Even though this story is now told to you third hand and certainly details are missing, generally speaking: how many issues can you see here and how would you fix them?

8 comments:

Gretchen said...

Oy. My opinion is that this woman:
1) should be more knowledgeable about her own situation
2) should carry her own Epi-Pen (I find it hard to fathom that someone who truly has any sort of anaphylactic food allergy would go out to dinner without one!), and
3) should know not to taste someone else's food without being 100% sure that it's SAFE!

My 7 year old daughter is allergic to tree nuts like I am, and SHE knows not only that she shouldn't taste anyone else's food (at school, camp, Girl Scouts, etc.), but that she should not share her own food with other people, in case they might have a food allergy that she doesn't know about.

A Spot to Reminisce said...

A few issues-- pretty much the same ones pc already mentioned.

It is the woman's responsibility to take charge for her allergy. Why on earth was she eating someone else's dish without checking it? To blame it on the waiter is just irresponsible and/or uninformed. She needs to educate herself.

Second, why isn't she carrying her own epi-pen!?!?!?!

Third, I would have likely called 911 rather than drive to the hospital. Especially if I had to be 'directed to the nearest' one.

potentialandexpectations said...

Oh, so disheartening on so many levels. Utterly amazing that the *allergic person* would make such a mistake. My mother has done similar, when we went to Outback Steakhouse and they were fabulous, bending over backwards to accommodate my daughter's twelve food allergies and making her a safe dinner, and then my mother slipped her a tomato off her salad because she "could see there was nothing on it." I nearly killed her.

But that's a bystander making a mistake... For the allergic person themselves to make such an error is crazy! Actually... thinking about it, perhaps some people just have that kind laid-back attitude to their alleries -- if my mother were allergic, I think she'd be just as casual, because it's in her nature. Just recently she lost a cap on her tooth because she decided that the Mold&Mildew spray worked so well at getting rid of the stains in the bath, she'd spray it on her toothbrush to see if she could scrub the coffee stains off her teeth -- never mind that it's toxic. She survived fine, but the cap fell out two days later, and she finds that annoying but still doesn't seem to see the danger of putting bathspray in her mouth -- which just blows my mind.

If the diner at your restaurant was of a similar temperament as my mother, it is not surprising that she tasted someone else's food and wasn't carrying an Epi-pen.

sallybranwyn said...

I find this infuriating for the same reasons people mentioned above.
However, on the top of the list of issues here for me is that this woman now makes restaurants wary about serving anyone with food allergies. As someone with celiac disease, I'm annoyed because it's issues like this (people not taking responsibility for their own mistakes and blaming the restaurant/servers) that give us a bad name.

We have to keep in mind that while we suffer with these issues everyday, we're asking for understanding and care from restaurants, not for them to treat us as irresponsible children.

MamaKate said...

That woman is a twit. If she is allergic to trees nuts, she should ask her boyfriend not to eat nuts when he is out with her and certainly not sit next to someone eating walnut pesto! Must less tasting said pesto!

My husband never eats nuts when he is out with me. We are too worried about the kiss of death.

Gaile said...

everything mentioned above, and this: how is this woman not dead yet? Did she indeed start showing symptoms? Because I just find it really hard to believe someone who knows they are anaphylactic to nuts would a) do such a stupid thing and b) be alive to do it, as these kinds of behaviors aren't usually unique occurrences.

Little Fish said...

Well obviously I second everything that has already been said, but I'll add one more thing. One of the million things I find infuriating about this story is that it could damage the restaurants reputation. If the other dinners around her only saw her get up and start screaming that she ate something she was allergic to and needed the ER they may assume that the restaurant has been careless and may even go home and relay the story to friends who have dietary issues who will then never go back there and continue to spread the story.

Meg said...

1. The restaurant did a good job with the woman's food. HOWEVER... one of my very best dining experiences with my daughter, who is allergic to nuts, was when the staff were careful to identify ANY dishes that came to the table with nuts. It was, indeed, over and above the call of duty, and I was incredibly grateful. It also proved to be intensely helpful, because not 20 seconds after the waiter identified a dish with nuts, the person eating it offered a bite to my daughter, and my daughter and I were able to point out that it had nuts.

2. She should have had an epi-pen and benadryl on her. Even cute clutches can fit them.

3. She should have known better than to take a bite of food without confirming it didn't have nuts.

4. She shouldn't have blamed the restaurant for her own mistake. Her mistake, I have to say, is totally understandable- everyone forgets now and then. But it was her mistake, not the restaurant's, and despite the fact that a trip to the ER really wrecks an evening, she shouldn't have blamed the restaurant or its staff.