I have been allergic to dairy products among other things for several years. So when I visit restaurants, I always politely ask “no cheese or sour cream”. The next thing you know that I have an appetizer with a cream sauce. Most food servers don’t even know that this contains dairy products!
Since the menus are never explicit on what the ingredients of allergens are in appetizers, I will ask the food server if a particular dish contains dairy products if I’m not sure. Sometimes I will ask you if it contains anything else I’m allergic to. They automatically look at you as if you were the most demanding person on the planet! So I have to explain that I am allergic to dairy products and other specific ingredients. They will have a worried look and will tell me that they will talk to the chef to find out what is in the appetizer that I am questioning.
Usually they come back to the table and explain that the chef doesn’t know what’s in some of the sauces or ingredients because they are sent to them prepackaged or bottled. So sometimes I take this opportunity and order an appetizer thinking it’s okay. Tartar sauce for fish is also sometimes made with sour cream, although I like it made with mayonnaise and I had to stop eating it after trying it.
Once I ordered the dinner I was unknowingly allergic to and immediately started getting a reaction and had them taken away, then I just ate the bread that came with the meal. I was very happy when they took my order from the bill, but it could have been avoided in the first place if they would have been more knowledgeable about the ingredients.
I really appreciate the fact that it is now mandatory that allergenic ingredients are listed on almost all types of products in grocery stores! Especially when the label clearly states that the product contains milk, instead of having to read the long list of ingredients that often list milk as “whey” or “casein”. When you are allergic to dairy products in particular, it is always advisable to learn the different terms for dairy products because not all products are clearly written on food labels. Some products indicate “dairy free” on the front label, but the ingredient label lists casein, so the labels need to be checked carefully.
While we’re on the subject of food labels with allergen information, a thought comes to my mind (okay … I’ve been thinking about it for a long time!) Because restaurants aren’t required to list allergenic ingredients clearly in the menus next to the entrance description ? Are we suffering from allergies by asking too much?
I guess if I didn’t have food allergies, it wouldn’t really matter to me whether restaurants did it or not. But if a person ever had to experience what appears to have an instant food allergic reaction or some of the “soon to follow” reactions, he would really want this information on all restaurant menus.
How nice it would be not to have to disturb the food server and have dinner where I shouldn’t worry if I’m about to pass out, I’m having trouble breathing or worse!
Food allergies are increasingly common every day. They are to get this valuable information on all restaurant menus! When will it happen? I hope soon.