Families coping with food allergies are faced with critical decisions every time they dine at a restaurant or order take-out from a local eatery. With little regulation and even less training of restaurant staff in how to organize kitchens and prepare food to avoid cross-contact with allergens, a diner with a severe food allergy must learn to interrogate management and make snap decisions regarding their willingness and ability to accommodate their restrictions.
So you’ve notified the manager and have been assured that muffin you are eyeing is free of your allergens of concern. Is it safe to consume?
We urge you to see this “Food for Thought” report from Carolyn Robinson of Seven Sharp News in New Zealand. Like the US, New Zealand is struggling to cope with skyrocketing rates of food allergy.
In her investigation, Robinson poses as a consumer with a severe milk allergy and visits numerous local eateries, collecting take-out from those that assure her their food can be made milk-free. She then brings the foods to a lab for professional testing for milk trace.
Here is the report, courtesy of One News Now:
The results are horrifying: many of the samples tested positive for significant milk contamination.
Though the report is based on an investigation that is far from scientifically rigorous, it does show that a consumer with food allergies faces significant risks in spite of assurances by management that the foods they are about to consume are safe. We believe a similar investigation conducted at local establishments throughout the US would produce similar results.
As always, we urge our readers to avoid establishments that prepare foods with their allergens of concern. Though the management of such establishments may mean well and may believe they are taking all necessary precautions to keep you safe, they present a significant risk unless their employees are trained and their kitchens are organized to prevent cross-contact.