Summer is coming to an end, and many parents will be taking their kids to college, away from home. It is often difficult for parents to say good bye. Many are worried about their kids because they won’t be living at home. For those parents who have kids with food allergies, they may feel extremely anxious and stressed. After all, they won’t be with their kids when they dine in the cafeteria or go out to dinner with their friends to make sure the dishes don’t have allergens they are allergic to such as peanuts, dairy, gluten, etc.
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Parents should start talking to their kids with food allergies at a young age about what they need to do when they dine out to ensure that they are not accidentally exposed to the allergen. Before going to college, remind them of what they should do when eating out. Below are some things that your kids should be doing before eating out.
Before going to a restaurant, your child should do some research on the restaurant. Visit the restaurant’s website and look at the menu. Look at the ingredients in the dishes. If there are ingredients they are not familiar with, they should look up the ingredients. This is especially important for sauces because many sauces contain nuts, but the name of the sauce itself does not indicate that. For instance, pesto sauce is often made with pine nuts. Therefore, an individual who is allergic to pine nuts should not have anything with pesto on it.
Even after studying the menu, your child should call the restaurant to inform the employees of their allergy and find out if the restaurant is able to accommodate them. They should make sure that even though a dish on the menu does not list any of the allergens they are allergic to, there is nothing else in the dish that may trigger an allergic reaction. For instance, a dish may not have peanuts listed as an ingredient, but it may be cooked in peanut oil.
Your child should bring an allergy card and give it to the server when dining at the restaurant. The card indicates the allergen your child is allergic to and may also have a picture of the allergen. This way, there is no confusion as to what your child is allergic to.
Tell your child to dine during off-peak hours, if possible. Perhaps they can eat about 30 minutes prior to busy meal times or even during the week when restaurants are less busy than meal times on the weekends. Dining during off-peak hours decreases the chance of mistakes or problems with the order as opposed to during busy times.
Make sure to remind your child to carry an Epi-Pen with them at all times in the event of an accidental exposure. An Epi-Pen should not be left in the dorm room or glove compartment of a car. Restaurants do not have Epi-Pens, and it is crucial that your child carries it with them all the time. When a severe allergic reaction starts, time is of the essence. Wasting precious time to get an Epi-Pen from the car may cost a life.
Individuals with food allergies may still be accidentally exposed to a food allergen. For instance, an individual with a peanut allergy may ingest peanuts due to the restaurant’s negligence, i.e., the dish was cooked in peanut oil, or the pot used to cook the dish was used to cook another dish with peanuts in it. When this happens, they have legal rights against the restaurant. They may financially recover for their damages and injuries sustained as a result of the exposure.
If you or a loved one suffered a severe allergic reaction or anaphylaxis due to a restaurant’s negligence in Pennsylvania or New Jersey, call the food allergy lawyers at White and Williams LLP to schedule a FREE consultation. 877.944.8396