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Eating out with a Food Allergy – Panel Discussion

Eating out with food allergy - panel discussion

In this panel discussion, Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia’s CEO Maria Said and trained Allergy Educators Wendy Freeman and Sally Voukelatos discuss eating out with a food allergy.

This recording includes:
- a short presentation outlining useful resources and strategies to help people with food allergies reduce the risk of an allergic reaction when eating out.
- answers to general questions about how to eat out more safely with a food allergy

Panel discussion recorded: Monday 27th and Tuesday 28th May 2024

Note: This recording includes the recorded questions and answers from both Monday 27th and Tuesday 28th May panel discussion sessions.

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Panel discussion: Eating out with a Food Allergy survey

Eating out with a Food Allergy – Panel Discussion Full

1. Question about teenage son eating out with nut allergy. Parent is concerned that because he is not wanting to make a fuss so he may not be doing all the checks to reduce risk. How do you assist older teenagers who are quite independent understand the importance of taking steps to reduce risk when eating out as well as when drinking alcohol?

2. Question about teenage daughter who has severe allergies to dairy and nuts and is petrified about eating out after negative experiences. How do I build her confidence in eating out so she doesn't miss out socially?

3. What is an allergen maxtrix?

4. Can you ask the restaurant to clean the grill and section off a part of the kitchen?

5. What do you do if the wait staff's primary language is not English, and they don't understand what you are saying?

6. Can restaurants and cafes list the ingredients of what is in their cakes and things so people with allergies know if they can have it or not, instead of asking the waiter's what's in them?

7. If someone on a plane is eating a bag of peanuts near you, do you need to worry about those allergens being airborne if you are anaphylactic to peanuts?

8. Are you aware of a website or any reference location listing safe restaurants or venues for different allergies?

9. Is there a process or information when students go on student exchange to other countries?

10. I have trouble with my daughter's coconut allergy, venues tend to focus on her more common allergies like egg and nuts and basically forget about coconut even when I tell them it's her most severe allergy. Any suggestions?

11. Íf travelling to a captive location, e.g. an Island resort, is it Ok when you ring to book and ask and inform of your allergies, they decline your booking? Or is this discrimination?

12. What do I do when I tell the wait staff my allergies and the staff reassure you there's nothing in it, but then you end up having an anaphylactic reaction?

13. My son has a food allergy to eggs. I would like to know what factors should we be aware of when eating out in order to assess the risk?

14. Can you offer advice on how to manage the anxiety that comes with eating out when you or your child has severe food allergies?

15. Are you able to share some positive experiences of dining out safely with food allergies to help us feel more confident?

16. I'm often questioned about my allergy as if I'm lying e.g. is it anaphylactic? Do I carry an EpiPen or Anapen? Is the venue allowed to ask this? Do you give them a response?

17. What specific question should I ask restaurant staff to understand their cross-contamination prevention practices?

18. What kind of support systems can be established to assist individuals with food allergies when they choose to eat out? Could partnerships between allergy advocacy groups and restaurants lead to safer dining experiences?

19. Do cafes use the same frother for all types of milk? What is the safest way to order coffee out there if you have a tree nut allergy, everywhere seems to have almond milk.

20. Should we disclose our food allergy to McDonald's, or any other fast food company, if they have an allergen matrix? Should we avoid fast food?

21. How long do you recommend waiting after testing food to eat, before continuing to eat the meal? My son's allergist says that the reaction will occur within a minute, but we often wait a few minutes.

22. What are my rights as a consumer with food allergies when we are eating out and how can I advocate for them effectively?

23. Are you allowed to bring your own allergy-safe food into a restaurant, for example a parent bringing food for their child with a food allergy?

24. Should I be telling my teenager to take two EpiPens with her when eating out or is one generally adequate?

25. How can we address and incorporate cultural sensitivities into food allergy manageent, especially in diverse communities where traditional food is a significant part of the culture?

26. Any advice for eating out with children wirh muliple severe allergies, such as tree nuts, peanuts, milk, and sesame? We still haven't eaten out.

27. What type of cuisines are known to be high risk for people with a peanut and tree nut allergy?

About the panel:

Maria Said AM

Maria SaidMaria Said AM, a registered nurse, has been a member of Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia (A&AA) since 1993. Her interest evolved when her second child was diagnosed with a potentially life threatening food allergy, asthma, eczema and allergic rhinitis in the early 1990s. She became national President of the organisation in 1999. Her advocacy and education role was initially voluntary however in 2004 she became a paid employee of the organisation.

In 2022 Maria was awarded the honour of Member of the Order of Australia for her tireless work in the field of allergy and anaphylaxis. Maria is Director and Co-chair of the National Allergy Council

Wendy Freeman

Wendy FreemanAs a general practitioner, Wendy completed post graduate training in allergy through the University of Western Sydney and worked in the allergy department at the Royal Melbourne Hospital until 2021. Wendy has been a volunteer for A&AA for over15 years and since 2021 has been employed as an A&AA Allergy Educator. Wendy is an associate member of ASCIA and a steering committee member of the National Allergy Council.

Two of Wendy’s three adult children are at risk of anaphylaxis to multiple foods (egg, dairy, fish, kiwi fruit, sesame seed, cashew, and pistachio) giving her many years of experience with the daily management of food allergies. 

Sally Voukelatos

Sally VoukelatosSally Voukelatos trained as a dietitian and has been involved for 20 years with Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia (A&AA), first as a volunteer, then from 2018, as one of the team of Allergy Educators. Her role has involved representing A&AA on government working groups addressing anaphylaxis training and policy development and she is a current member of the Allergen Collaboration. At A&AA she provides phone support and education and is involved in government submissions, resource development and policy review.

Sally is a member of the National Allergy Council (NAC) Advisory Committee; project co-lead of the NAC Food Service Project. Sally is an Associate Member of the Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASCIA) and a member of the ASCIA Dietitians’ Committee.