Ten tips for eating out with a food allergy

Woman eating at cafe

Careful planning, asking the right questions and declaring your allergy will decrease your risk of having a reaction when eating out. Here are our top 10 tips to help minimise the risk of reaction when enjoying a meal out. 

1. Always carry your adrenaline (epinephrine) injector (such as Anapen®, EpiPen®) and ASCIA Action Plan

Always have your adrenaline injector (if you have been prescribed one) and your ASCIA Action Plan for Anaphylaxis with you.

If you have not been prescribed an adrenaline injector always have your ASCIA Action Plan for Allergic reactions with you.

2. Check out the menu beforehand

Looking at the menu on the restaurant website before you go will give you more information about the food choices the restaurant offers and if they can cater to your allergy. Be sure to look at the menu again when you arrive in case it is different.  

3. Contact the restaurant or café before you go

Speaking with the chef or manager about your food allergy before you go not only gives them a chance to prepare allergen-free meal options, but also gives you more information on whether you would like to eat there.

4. Avoid high risk restaurants

Some restaurants may use a lot of the food that you’re allergic to, and chances of cross-contamination can be higher. For instance, if you have a fish/shellfish/mollusc allergy, you may reconsider eating at a seafood restaurant, or if you have a peanut allergy, reconsider eating at some Asian restaurants.

5. Choose a less busy time

At busy times, restaurant and café staff are stretched and human error can increase. If you can, try to visit places outside of peak times so you and the staff have the time to discuss your food allergy.

6. Tell people preparing and serving food about your food allergy

Always tell people taking your food order about your food allergy clearly, every time, even at a restaurant where you have eaten safely before. The chef may have changed the ingredients or added an unexpected garnish.

7. Know the foods that commonly contain your allergen

Be aware that allergens can be hidden in dishes i.e. hummus contains sesame. You can download our free Allergen Cards that include a number of foods that allergens are commonly found in, and alternative names to watch out for on food labelling.

Consider ordering simply prepared dishes with few ingredients.

8. Use an A&AA Chef Card 

This card outlines the allergen/s you must avoid. Ask that the card goes out to the chef and returns with your meal. Having the card come back with your meal makes it more likely the right meal goes to the right person. Download yours now.

When your meal is served check it is the meal intended for you, free of your allergen.

9.  Avoid sharing

Do not be tempted to try someone else’s food. Do not share straws, cups or knives, forks or spoons OR food to avoid possible cross-contamination.

10. Takeaway and delivery apps

If you are ordering food online or through a food delivery app, disclose your allergy online AND call the restaurant to make sure your food allergy is understood.

 

REMEMBER! If you think you are having an allergic reaction, STOP eating and follow your ASCIA Action Plan. Women eating

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