Aller-G’s


…Saw some more cool tweets about allergies today, again from pnutfreeworld.  They all caught my eye, and put me in a slightly better mood.  I’m not allergic to peanuts, but a lot of other people out there are.  I’m allergic to shellfish, and all of us that suffer from severe allergies need to stick together… so I’ve been following allergy issues on the web more & more.  I thought I might share with the hopes that if you’re out there suffering form allergies, and you happen to stumble upon this blog… you’ll know that there’s a bunch of us out here… or if you have a friend or family member that suffers form allergies, this may offer you some insight into their world.

The first one that jumped out at me today, was this one…

Law Makes Allergies a Restaurant’s Responsibility, Too – A Massachusetts Regulation Requires Restaurants to Get Food Allergy Training

If you saw my blog the other day about the two thrilling tweets, this would be the conclusion.  Apparently it passed! I know… this is odd for me to celebrate.  Normally, I’m anti- anything that has to do with making more rules & regulations or expanding government.  But, this just hits too close for me on a personal level to not be behind it.  I just hope they go about it efficiently.

Basically, the law says that if you’re a customer, you need to speak up and inform the restaurant of your allergy, and if you’re a restaurant, it’s your responsibility to have all of your employees trained and certified on allergy safety and cross contamination issues.  I realize that this is not a fool-proof system, and that I don’t even live near Massachusetts, but it gives me hope that other states may one day follow suit.  I now have something concrete to write about to my local politicians… and say “hey, look… they’re doing something that makes sense”.

Sadly, the legislation doesn’t seem to point to chain restaurants… like Subway, where cross-contamination with the seafood sub is a major issue.  It does, however, give me hope that I will someday be able to dine in an upscale restaurant with no abnormal concern for my safety.

If you’ve read my trifecta of tirades on the food industry & cleanliness & allergy issues, (That’s 1, 2, & 3) then you know that there are others out there who think that implementing such training would not only be impractical, but it would be just not done at all or treated like a joke from all concerned parties.  I really, really hope that’s not the case once this is put into effect.  I would hope that this would be an issue that’s handled quite seriously… it is, after all, a life-or-death issue.

The second article’s title made me think, “damn right”…

Food on the road can be a minefield – Taking steps to minimize the risks from allergies

Now, this is from a Canadian publication, and they seem to have a lot more government regulation already… but I don’t really support banning things like they seem to want to do.  Education and training is what we need. This article is a nice list of websites and literature that you can look to for support in dining out while traveling abroad.

I’m going to have to look into these sites a little more, and see if there’s anything worth noting or sharing.

There are two not mentioned in the article that look promising… but they really need their databases updated if they’re going to be useful at all:  Can I Eat There? & Shellfish Free

I’m also hoping UrbanSpoon.com one day makes note of more than just gluten-allergy friendly restaurants… and picks up on the big 8.

This last one is cool on a geek front as well as an allergy front…

Peanut Allergy Blocker On The Way

The concept just blows my mind.  I’ve said before… even if I was given a cure tomorrow, I doubt I’d ever even want shellfish at this point… but at least I’d be able to eat food off of the same grill or out of the same fryer without hesitation or anaphylactic repercussions.

I’ve read a lot about the causes of allergies… and asked a lot of questions of doctors.  It’s amazing how much they don’t know… but this article is very enlightening, and it’s all broken down so it’s easy to understand:

Dr Suphioglu said that the work being done by his team also has potential benefits for all allergy sufferers. “Taking a step further back in how an allergic reaction occurs, we are also carrying out research into how we can prevent the allergen specific antibodies from being produced at all.

“In an allergic reaction, the body produces cell signalling molecules called cytokines to trigger the production of antibodies. If we can neutralise the cytokines involved with the allergic reaction, we can potentially block or reduce the production of the antibodies. In recent preliminary results we have successfully identified a substance that interacts with one of the key cytokines involved in the allergic reaction. We are now assessing the capacity of this substance to block or reduce antibody production in the allergic reaction.”

Dr Suphioglu is confident that his team’s allergy research work will result in better treatments for allergy sufferers. “I believe our research into understanding the molecular and allergenic properties of major peanut allergens together with our work on how to prevent or inhibit allergic reactions will contribute to the development of safer and more effective methods for peanut allergy diagnosis, prevention and treatment as well as benefit sufferers of other allergies.”

I’ve read a bunch of articles pertaining to the links between asthma and dust mite allergies and their relation to the severe shellfish allergies.  It’s really interesting stuff.  I hope all of these studies merge in the near future, and perhaps there will be an end to all my allergy-related rants!

More shocking & disguting revelations from your serving staff…


I wish I was done.  Perhaps this blog will wrap up all of my current thoughts on the subject.  Thanks for hanging in there, my friends.  And, I have received some comments on Facebook at Pittsburgh Beat, please comment here too!  Thanks to Trista & Dave for not being shy.  If you have no idea what I mean, this is a follow-up to my last two posts…

You may want to read those 1st.

The first article/slide-show that I’d like to tackle is also called 20 Secrets Your Waiter Won’t Tell You and linked to from one of the articles as 20 More Secrets Your Waiter Won’t Tell You. Apparently originality is lost here.

I’ll tackle the most appalling slides here..

What You’re Really Swallowing
In most restaurants, after 8 p.m. or so, all the coffee is decaf because no one wants to clean two different coffeepots. I’ll bring out a tray with 12 coffees on it and give some to the customers who ordered regular, others to the ones who ordered decaf. But they’re all decaf.
Charity Ohlund

Ridiculous.  What’s so hard about telling people of this policy, or cleaning an extra coffee pot?  Don’t they have dish washers for this kind of thing?  Any kind of secrecy is just wrong.  Granted, the opposite would be much worse for someone with a sensitivity to caffeine… but according to this  butthole, it happens quite regularly.  Is it too much to expect to get what you order?  Really?  I work hard for my money just like you, and ought to get what I want when I spend in your workplace.

What We Lie About
If you’re a vegetarian and you ask if we use vegetable stock, I’m going to say yes, even if we don’t. You’ll never know the difference.

I like that this is from someone anonymous.  Whoever you are, please take comfort in the fact that you are one of the lowest forms of human life on the planet and that there are not too many out there worse than you.  You’re sick.  You have a mental illness of some sort or a form of antisocial personality disorder… specifically the following symptoms:

  • Apparent lack of remorse or empathy; inability to care about hurting others
  • Tendency to violate the boundaries and rights of others
  • Disregard for the safety of self or others
  • Persistent attitude of irresponsibility and disregard for social rules, obligations, and norms

This is a serious illness, and I implore you to seek help.  This is just completely unacceptable behavior towards your fellow man, besides not doing your job correctly or with any sort of pride or responsibility.

I’m certainly not a vegetarian.  In fact, serve up any animal that’s not shellfish, an insect, or  having an opposable thumb, and I’ll most likely eat it or at least try it.  I love red meat… and white meat too… but there is not much better out there meat-wise than a nice steak, roast, or even a burger.  PETA annoys me to no end.

Still, I respect their life choices, life style, and dietary needs.  I have several friends and acquaintances that are vegetarian or vegan.  It doesn’t matter if their diet is because of personal choices, dietary needs, religious beleifs, or allergies. If I know they’re coming to my house for anything or if I’m taking food to a common event with them… I go out of my way to make sure that the food doesn’t contain animals or animal products.  Over the past few years, I even learned about things that I never thought of as animal products like gelatin-free sour cream.

I harp on the allergy thing because it affects me, but someone out there may have a severe allergic reaction to beef or chicken… and if the stock was made from fish or shellfish and someone lied to me about it… well, I might not be around to complain.

I just can’t imagine that in this day and age that anyone would think lying about something like this was acceptable.

What You Don’t Want to Know
Now that I’ve worked in a restaurant, I never ask for lemon in a drink. Everybody touches them. Nobody washes them. We just peel the stickers off, cut them up, and throw them in your iced tea.
—Charity Ohlund, Kansas City waitress

Explains why I’ve gotten so many lemons with stickers on them in my iced teas.  Aren’t there health codes or inspectors out there?  I’m vehemently against big(er) government, but I would gladly pay higher taxes for inspections to be more frequent and with higher penalties.  In fact…  I’ll sign up to do them at an incredibly reasonable price.

What You’re Really Swallowing
Skim milk is almost never skim milk. Very few restaurants outside Starbucks carry whole milk, 2 percent milk, skim milk, and half-and-half; it’s just not practical.
—Chris

Skim milk is gross, but…  Again, why with the dishonesty?  Why not just tell people you don’t have skim milk, then let them make the decision if they want it or not?  I’d leave a bigger tip if my server was honest with me about something like that.

What Drives Us Crazy
The single greatest way to get your waiter to hate you? Ask for hot tea. For some reason, an industry that’s managed to streamline everything else hasn’t been able to streamline that. You’ve got to get a pot, boil the water, get the lemons, get the honey, bring a cup and spoon. It’s a lot of work for little reward.
—Christopher Fehlinger, maître d’ at a popular New York City restaurant

Wow.  I love hot tea, but don’t order it out much.  From now on, every time I feel a waiter or waitress is treating me poorly, I’ll be sure to add to their aggravation and order this.  Also, I find it funny that this is from a maître d’.  Shouldn’t they be held to an even higher standard?  And again…  I don’t care what it is… if it’s on the menu, I should be able to order it, and it should not affect your attitude or opinion because… buh-bahhh IT’S YOUR JOB.

What We Want You to Know
In many restaurants, the tips are pooled, so if you have a bad experience with the server, you’re stiffing the bartender who made your drinks, the water boy who poured your water, sometimes the hostess, the food runners, and maybe the other waiters.
—Christopher Fehlinger

This isn’t common knowledge by now?  Surely everyone knows someone who works at a restaurant.

What You Need to Know About Tipping
The best tippers tend to be middle-class or people who have worked for everything they have, not the really wealthy or the kid who inherited the trust fund. Which is not to say that we mind if you use coupons. But when you do, tip on the amount the bill would have been without them.
—Judi Santana

Makes sense… people at about your level who work for all that they have.  The coupon thing makes sense.  Save a few bucks on the restaurant’s dime, not your server’s.

Well, those articles led me to Frothy Girlz where I looked for an apparently old blog post that keeps coming up to annoy the writer.  I didn’t find the original post, but I did find a gem entitled In The Weeds: There’s a Food Allergy Community? Really?.

People just love them some communities.  I mean, they must.  After my Reader’s Digest piece was picked up by both the Today show and Msnbc.com, the “food allergy community” opened up a peanut and gluten-free can of whoop ass on me.  Some scolded me for not caring if their children died, others asked for a full retraction and apology to the community, and others reminded me, again, that they could die.

Who knew there was a food allergy community?  Can you imagine the poor restaurant that is chosen for their weekly meetings?  The waitress nervously approaches the chef with an order the size of the Bible with all the special notes and codes and the words “COULD DIE!!!” hand written on half the tickets.

I’m disgusted by the cavalier attitude here.  I can’t imagine being a parent with a small child that had to deal with this.  It’s bad enough when it’s my own problem.  Yes, there’s a bunch of us out here, and we’re growing more vocal day by day.  Why?  Any more, it’s the small groups who have to power.  Wait until we start referring to ourselves ans a minority, and our right to eat out in comfort a civil right.  Wow, could we ever abuse that if we got it out at the right place and time to the right politicians.

I have dealt with a lot of food allergies in my serving career, and I care, I really do.   Every case was handled with extreme care.  I would go talk to the chef, who would roll his eyes and then have to stop the line and talk to every cook.  I then had to stop and tell every other server, busser, and assistant to make sure not to touch any plates at table 53 without washing their hands of any and all potential allergens.  She could die!  Meanwhile, the restaurant is completely packed and crazy and this person has put her LIFE in my hands and I have to trust – no, SHE has to trust – that all 95 people who could possibly come in contact with her or her food will completely sanitize their hands, the silverware, the plates, and the very air she breathes of any and all peanut dust.

A chef rolls their eyes?  That’s sad.  I think they’d get into the business wanting people to love their food, not die from it.  Sadly, in with the rest of this, she’s right on.  It should not be solely the responsibility of the server.  Restaurants everywhere need to be made aware of the inherent dangers of cross contamination in food preparation, cooking, & serving.  People suffering from severe food allergies are a small percentage of the population, narrow down the allergy & it’s smaller still.  I run into people that aren’t aware of allergies or their possible severity all the time.  Some people are taking steps to correct this, many others will be needed to join in & raise awareness.

But it’s too much for you, allergen sufferer, isn’t it?  I mean, if you could truly die, how do you throw caution to the wind and hope that your 12 reminders have done the trick?  Balls, you.

Yes, balls me.  Again, you have to weigh this against the social pressure to dine out, and desire to be like everyone else.  It’s much more than just the allergy that’s bothersome, and who doesn’t like to dine out every once in a while, especially in a place that doesn’t have a drive-through or a mascot?

That blog contained a vlog from this guy, who at best needs kicked in the teeth.  I can’t really go point-for-point because I don’t really feel like typing out transcripts.  If you’re interested in seeing what I mean, check out Would You Say “No Butter” to Julia Child!?.  He speaks of how I shouldn’t eat out because I can’t trust anyone but him… even though he’s an ass.  He does make one good point saying that people saying they’re allergic to things when they just don’t want them in their food is doing nothing but trivializing it for the rest of us.  But, “Anonymous waiter in Hollywood, CA”, don’t pass the buck, you’re still the arrogant bastard here.  Yes, I get it, you say things for shock value and to gain new readers… like I just said you need kicked in the teeth.  I’m sure you’re fine with that though, & enjoy the reaction.  If you’re teaching us to be better customers, who’s teaching you to be a better waiter?

Apparently people complaining upset the “In The Weeds” writer, and she posted another blog, again venting…

1)  From Shellshock: “Wow. The author is going to kill someone with the attitude towards allergies. I guess the terms anaphylactic shock and death are words not found in the author’s vocabulary.”

I covered the topic of food allergies already, but again, if you can DIE from someone messing up your food, you might as well ask your waitress to perform your next open heart surgery.  It’s really the same risk.  I’m not insensitive to your plight.  I’ll do my best.  But it really sucks that you could die.  Because if the Mexican kitchen workers don’t understand what I’m saying about “anaphylactic shock”…. damn.

Again, why not do your part and suggest to the owner/manager/chef that everyone be trained on food allergy awareness?  No one’s asking you to perform open heart surgery… we’re just asking you to be clean.  That’s all.  Don’t let dirty stuff touch clean stuff. Shouldn’t that be in practice anyway?

I mean this stuff is genius…

Education | For Food Industry and Service Professionals

To prevent allergic reactions, individuals with food allergies rely on accurate ingredient information and safe food handling procedures. The material in this section will provide food industry and service professionals with the information they will need to safely prepare, cook, and serve food to a guest who has food allergies.

Would that really be all that difficult?

Well, maybe I have one more blog left.  One dedicated to tipping… and my take on it.  I really hope to hear from some people in the industry about that one.

Can I Eat There?


Juts found this site, haven’t looked around much, but it looks to be awesome.

More upon further review…

http://www.canieatthere.blogspot.com