Thomas De Ville booked a birthday dinner for 14 at The Piano Works, a restaurant in London’s West End. In response to his follow-up to notify the venue that he had a nut allergy, he received the following message:
A “corkage fee” is the price a restaurant charges to serve you wine that you have brought along, in this case over $20 US.
De Ville opted to skip dinner with his girlfriend and join the party for drinks later on. According to his sister, the restaurant attempted to charge him and his date for the skipped meal, but later backed down when they complained.
She told Metro.co.uk:
My brother already feels uncomfortable constantly having to check in restaurants about food and having to sometimes flick through a massive confusing folder at the table, with stuff he can have in it and then to try and make someone feel even more uncomfortable by signing a disclaimer before they eat is just disgusting.
The Food Standards Agency (FSA) — the UK equivalent of the FDA — requires restaurants to accomodate diners with food allergies by providing accurate allergen information.
Said Keith Millar, Head of the FSA Allergy and Intolerance Team:
If you are asked to sign a waiver by a food business because you have a food allergy, we recommend that you do not do so.
All food businesses have a legal obligation to provide safe food for their customers.
They must know what is in their food and must manage cross-contamination of ingredients and meals appropriately.
Food businesses should also let their customers know when the risk of cross-contamination is real and unavoidable.
The Piano Works issued a statement via Twitter in response to the incident, which read:
We’re passionate about food, our meals are made with high quality ingredients and we do our best to cater for people with food allergies. However, we cannot guarantee an environment completely free from allergens so traces of some ingredients may still be present in our meals
Easyjet has banned the sale of nuts on flights to help protect passengers with allergies. We are not prepared to abandon the use of nuts in our menu as we would have to include the other thirteen allergens…
But if you can suggest an alternative to our policy we’d be very happy to consider it.