Severe food allergies and eating out

On two occasions in the last month or so, I have had problems fining suitable food when eating out.

I am severely allergic to eggs.

A few weeks ago, a chain pub said they could not guarantee anything egg free! I used the loo and Mum & I promptly left!! I find it very anoying that food establishments are unable to provide food lists - they often buy stuff in that has been prepared elsewhere and no list provided.

Good ole independent pubs are Usually OK, so I thought! My friend took me out to lunch on Tuesday to a proper pub - had a nice looking menu, bu the only thing they could offer / say was egg free was Steak or ham! I had steak, ( had ham for the last few days before in sandwiches) which I wasn't too keen on, but was nice anyway.

Christmas menus are a nightmare too! One one occasion I paid £15 for tomato soup ( gave me gut ache as so cheap & acidic) plain dry chicken & veges and melon for pudding!! (Beafeater type place)

Last Christmas, the choice was so restrictive too! ( I am going to find a decent pub for this years meal with my SJA colleagues! no more rubbish choices !)

I feel that restaurants especially chain ones such as Beefeaters etc will not guarantee anything allergy free, are covering their back just in case!

Does anyone else have problems with eating out? On occasions I have been told, 'Oh, it may contain nuts' .... nuts?? eggs? there is a vast difference! One comes from a tree ( or peanut plant) and one comes from a chicken.

I know the anaphylaxis campaign have mentioned things in the past about eating out, but my last few experiences are not good.

Kate

11 Replies

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  • Kate, I have taken to calling in advance and telling them they have ""gluten free vegan"" coming in and so far I have always had a call from the chef or sous chef to go though my meal to make sure it is OK. I struggle to find anything if I randomly go out and usually end up with a salad as that is ""safe"". The problem with big chains is the meal is pretty well semi prepared in advance so there is no room for a chef to be creative.

    On another note now I have my own wheels I am going to spend a few hours going around the local super market looking on packaging to see what else I can find that I can eat which is not in the free from range. Some brands of baked beans are fine for a ""gluten free vegan"" I am sure there are other things out there it will just take a slow trawl around the aisles to find them.

    Bex

  • Hi,

    I know i havn't posted for a long time but reading this post i wanted to reply.

    Here is website with a list of restaurants that cater for coeliac disease.

    Also, Wagamamas can be added to that list.

    I have many allergies and i find many restaurants are very accomidating, it can be useful to cary little cards you can make on the pooter saying your allergies to give to the chef.

    coeliaclist.co.uk/

    nutty

    p.s. i know this doesn't help for eggs and i'm not sure if there is one for eggs sorry

  • Hi

    Thanks, I do call if it is planned & Booked etc , but Tuesday was a decision by a friend to go to that specific pub as she said it was 'nice'!

    Yes, I have a card which I hand over and make sure they wave it at the kitchen peeps too!

    Had one occasion where some eggy croutons had been added then removed from a meal (but not the crumbs) , fortunately only caused lip swelling but there was one hell of a ding dong going on in the kitchen after I said about it and they didn't charge me for the meal. I had my own surge of adrenaline as I had my Grandma with me and didn't want to scare her with anaphylaxis.

    At least I know Sainsbury's cafe is fairly safe! LOL!

    Kate

  • Hi Kate,

    I am allergic to milk and eggs, i find that using common sense when out and about really helps, not saying you dont but it does help.

    I use tesco home delievery and you can read ingredients on products before you buy. I have found KFC a safe place to eat as long as i remeber to ask for the burger without mayo.

    I have also found that big pub chains are good, learn what you can eat by heart and then order it, i normally avoid all soups. I normally order something and chips, or something and jacket potato. Things with rice if they say they are tomato based are ok.

    As you go on with food allergies you can of learn what you can and can't eat. Something i seem to live on at my church coffee shop is either a dry ham and pineapple sandwich or chips and chilli, or dry jacket pot and chilli. Chilli is safe it contains no milk and no egg. erm ok sorry have woffled on, i posted a while back an egg free chocolate cake on favourite cakes thread i think. have a look for it!

    any more allergy stuff please pm me.

  • Kate,

    Your story sounds so much like my daughter's when she became vegetarian way back in the early 90s.

    There was no choice then, in the restaurants. Heavens! they were only just catching up on offering a kids menu. I remember a rather dry salad on which was perched a whole hard apple. I'd asked if they could do a child's salad but this was such an alien notion to them. I remember feeling like crying when the only really edible item amongst the grated carrot, limp lettuce and mound of coleslaw was this one apple of which she manfully nibbled about half. 16 years on, the restaurant in question has had several make-overs and owners but, driving past, I still remember that apple.

    I carry a mum's guilt that I could not provide somewhere that she could eat happily with us when I could remember restaurants in the 1960s with yummy salads containing many fresh and tasty items. My father and I would count all the different items on his plate and yes,if you couldn't have something like eggs or ham, they would happily do a mixed cheese salad. 12 different items of fruit and salad vegetables in the days before exotica like kiwi fruit and bean sprouts.

    Its a lot easier now, though if we are out somewhere new, daughter always asks if the veg soup or tomato pasta sauce is made from vegetable stock? We've found many a vegetable soup or sauce has a meaty base.

    Good luck in the eating establishments catching up with food allergies too. I would hope this takes less time than good vegetarian dishes took to appear on menus.

    Best wishes

    Moira

    PS found the cheaper establishments cottoned on fastest.

  • I have anaphylaxis to latex so eating out is a complete nightmare, as kitchen and waiting staff just don't get this type of allergy. They don't understand that if they are wearing latex gloves in the kitchen that the proteins are spread to whatever they touch. Also you are never sure if the packaging of the food has contained latex or equipment used to cook the food has latex in. Restaurants that give out balloons or use them for display are also a complete nigtmare.... Its like playing russian roulette.....

    So I can understand and sympathise with the problems you have with egg allergy. I have given up on trying to go out with work colleagues to restaurants especially if it is done on the spur of the moment, as normally can't eat anything or if they have baloons have to leave. Normally I cook food fo myself so I know what is in it and what type of packaging has been used. If I have to go anywhere I make sure that I take my own food. Anyway I hope you find somewhere where you can eat safely....

  • Hi Plumie,

    it is the potential cross contaminations that cause the problems... they often can't guarantee food hasn't been prepared in an egg free environment e.g knives used on egg product then used on my meal - e.g. some sandwich places use one knife to chop all the sandwiches.

    I am suprised that you found the big chain pubs OK - they are my worse. Either nothing safe or only one thing on the menu but then it is stripped of all sauce etc! I ask them to check packaging if it has it. A lot of meals are brought in so there can be a continuity issue with contaminates if it has gone through 2-3 stages of preparation and packaging. The basic food stuffs may have warning on, eg raisins - nut warning. Raisins made into Rum & raisin ice cream at a different establishment. nut warning may not be carried over onto ice cream packaging. Ice cream repacked into little dishes etc .... then served... just an example. So the establishment may not have the full picture and will say that all puddings may have nuts in!

    Yes, tescos OK but I still check when it arrives, in case a new improved recipe pops up.

    I never go to KFC! Yick! Not my type of food.

    When I eat out I like to enjoy a tasty meal and have a choice of 2-3 dishes if possible. I am lactose intollerant and should really avoid milk, but find it easier to get something egg free to eat if I can tollerate a bit of milk. Egg = anaphylaxis in any tiny amount.

    Kate

  • Bit of a topic swerve here, but in response to Nutty's post below - I know the bloke responsible for the Coeliac List website, so I'll let him know that Wagamama is okay too.

  • Kate, I went out on a whim with my Mum, Sister and son's GF. We called the resturant to say we were incoming they put me through to the chef and after a quick converstation we agreed on something with a pasta which I took with me but only because I did not fancy potatos. On arrival I handed over the pasta and they cooked it and put on it a lovely roasted vegetable and tomato sauce and unasked they did me a fruit salad for pudding. I think they charged £5 for meal and pudding which was also excellant value! So it is worth calling in advance even if it is only 15 minutes in advance.

    Bex

  • I'm allergic to food colourings, artificial flavourings and preservatives and have salicylate sensitivity, so eating out can be a bit of a nightmare for me and for a while after I started the low salicylate diet I avoided eating out completely.

    If it is a pre-booked meal I now always ring / pop in to the restaurant in advance and have a chat with the staff (usually the chef) and choose my meal in advance. I stress to the staff the dangers of cross contamination as even the tiniest bit of coloured cheese which came into contact with a sandwich (supposedly made separately for me) I was eating at uni a couple of years ago put me in hospital with severe anaphylaxis. When I arrive for the meal on the day I make myself known to the staff / chef and reiterate the need for no cross contamination. As I usually go out for meals with the same group of friends we usually go to one of 3 or 4 restaurants and I have got to know the menus which makes it easier to choose and speak to staff. I have known the restaurant Ask to create a unique salicylate free pasta dish for me and on another occasion a local restaurant made a pizza without tomato sauce for me.

    If it's a spur of the moment decision sometimes I end up having very plain food - just chips or tuna jacket potato or something similar. Quite often I will refuse last minute invitations to lunch if I know the place wont have anything I can eat, or I make another suggestion of venue.

    I'm still always scared when eating out but my confidence has grown. I can't eat anything from the menu but Nandos have a special folder for people with allergies which lists every single ingredient in all of the food products they use right down to the ingredients in their sauces and mayo! It makes interesting reading. Pizza Hut has a downloadable breakdown list of all ingredients on their website. Pub chains are sometimes a problem for me as their is often little flexibility in their menus and they don't usually have skilled chefs who can adapt meals for you! I'm very allergic to the natural colour annatto which is used to colour lots of orange / red / yellow foods especially cheese. It's surprising how many pub / restaurant staff think cheese is naturally that colour!

    Interestingly I have recently discovered a restaurant in York which I am yet to try but is completely vegan and gluten free and very allergy friendly. I'm neither vegan or gluten intolerent but I'm intrigued by the restaurants attention to allergies and would like to go along and try it out. For anyone ever visiting York it's called El Piano el-piano.com/ and is just around the corner from my office.

  • I used to be a big advocate of you can still eat out live normal life etc with severe allergies with a bit of planning until i was diagnosed with a severe wheat allergy. Avoiding nuts and eggs was easy, when you add the combination of wheat ontop things get more complicated.(Have a look at the wheat free stuff most of it has eggs/nuts in, try explaining that stock cubes/gravy has wheat in it...)

    I used to stick to large pub chains and have jacket potato and steak or gammon or go to Macdonalds/burger king/pizza hut who have always been really helpful.

    My worst experiences were a few years ago when BHS and bella pasta refused to even sell me a drink as i had nut allergy and i not having the confidence to create a scene i had to sit there while everyone else ate!

    Debenhams do a food allergy list sheet if popping in while shopping and John Lewis and Fenwicks have always been really helpful. For eating in the evening now that I have to avoid wheat as well as eggs and nuts (anaphylaxis) i have found we just don't. It's too mch hassle. I have got my pred right down to 9mg from 90 and my lungs are really good now so for me as my asthma in mainly induced by food allergies eating out just isn't worth the risk anymore.

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