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Sunday, May 8, 2011


The topic of food allergies is one which strikes close to home for me, and I am sure to many others. One of the earliest posts when I started writing this blog centered on food allergies, and how people need to be aware of them. In fact, it's the start of Food Allergy Awareness Week (May 8-14),  and I encourage everyone to go learn about them.

One question that has bugged me for a while, though, is how difficult it is to get restaurants to accommodate food allergies. At the same time, restaurants bend over backwards to have vegan and vegetarian options, openly trumpeting these features. This is strange, as often vegetarianism is a lifestyle choice, but allergies can be a physiological constant. Advertising allergy safety could, in fact, be good for the bottom line, as celebrity chef Ming Tsai discovered. Knowing that one could be safe from cross contamination means that a steady clientele can be nurtured.

I suspect that the issue comes not so much from the act of success, but from the risk of failure. After all, should a vegan dish be accidentally contaminated with butter from a carelessly reused ladle, and the diner could be none the wiser. But cross contaminate with peanuts or seafood with reused tongs, and the mistake could literally be fatal.

Dining together in company is one of the most fundamental bridges to community. Let's try to make it safe for everyone.

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