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Labeling foods isn't enough page 3
New legislation is merely a good start in the real world of food allergies

RICHARD AMRHINE
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Date published: 1/16/2005

By RICHARD AMRHINE

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The industry is beginning to pay attention. According to an editorial in the trade publication National Restaurant News, "From quick service to fine dining, operators are looking at ways to improve their menus, the ingredient information they dispense to customers, and the allergy-related training of their staffs."

We are always elated to discover places that respond understandingly to our concerns, and that have ready access to the ingredient lists for the dishes they prepare.

Too often a server expects us to be satisfied that he is "pretty sure" the kitchen doesn't cook its french fries in peanut oil--a fairly common practice. "Pretty sure," however, doesn't cut it.

Recent experience suggests that if we pursue ingredient or cross-contamination questions with a manager or chef, they will either a) produce the information needed to reassure us, or b) offer no "guarantees" about anything on the menu and suggest that boiled pasta, plain except for butter, would be a good choice.

My daughter shouldn't feel that she needs to apologize for having a food allergy. If restaurant menus can indicate which dishes are carb-free, they can indicate which are free of certain allergens.

Legislation is a necessary step in assuring food-allergen safety, but it is important that restaurants and manufacturers become aware and act on their own volition. That's the best way for us all to enjoy increased confidence in the foods we eat.

RICHARD AMRHINE is a writer and editor with The Free Lance-Star.


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