Starbucks. They’re everywhere, they’re convenient, and if you’re a coffee drinker, you’re either a fan or would rather cross the highway to grab a cup of Dunkin’.
Either way, if you are coping with food allergies — especially to milk, almonds, oats, or coconut — you have to be extra careful because there is a significant opportunity for cross-contact because shakers, blenders, and steamers are often shared by multiple baristas who are busy prepping drinks while rushing to get them out to customers as quickly as possible.
The problem is further complicated when the person taking your order is not the person making your order, leaving the door open for omissions and misunderstandings where special allergen handling instructions can be lost or misconstrued.
This TikTok entitled “Holding Starbucks Accountable” is making the rounds where user @theallergicgirl does a wonderful job explaining what went wrong during a recent visit to a Starbucks she doesn’t normally frequent:
@theallergicgirl This is no hate to @Starbucks ♬ original sound – Mia
Kudos to @theallergicgirl because her video covers a lot of ground every person with food allergies should know.
First, it’s always better to stick to a few establishments where you are familiar with the staff and you’ve found they’ve taken your food allergies seriously.
Second, if possible, you should watch your food or beverage being prepared to ensure the staff is taking proper precautions to avoid cross-contact, including using properly cleaned/sanitized equipment. In some cases, this may mean taking an unused implement from the back, but keep in mind that some equipment — like the milk steamers used to make cappuccinos — may not be able to be sanitized. Often, “sanitizing” these means a cursory rub with a rag that has been used to clean the counter.
Last, always check with the server to make sure proper precautions were taken in the preparation of your food or beverage. If you don’t feel confident, don’t be afraid to send it back and leave the establishment.
Your safety is paramount and trumps all else.