Most people know someone who has allergies whether it is sneezing from an allergy to dust or getting rashes from a certain substance. An allergy is a condition where a foreign substance (allergen) that enters the body triggers the immune system to react in various different ways, most commonly by the inflammatory response. There are a variety of allergens that can cause an individual to have an allergic reaction, such as peanuts, wheat, gluten, dairy, rye....the list goes on and on. Living with allergies can be difficult at times, especially during the spring...YIKES! However, as John Mellencamp said, "Oh yeah, life goes on" (Song: Jack and Diane). Yes it is possible to have fun with allergies outside of the few months every year where everyone goes through two Kleenex boxes and four Kleenex portable packs. Our mission here is to help guide you Kleenex lovers out there regarding simple information about allergies, recipes for people with food allergies, and any questions you may have.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Recognizing Food Allergies in Foods

It has come to my attention that many employees working in either restaurants or fast food chains are unaware of what food allergies really are.  Sure they know the basics from the California Food Handlers course that they needed to take before being able to work, but many workers don't understand food allergies in full context.  Recently, I flew to Las Vegas where I would meet up with my connecting flight and had about an hour before my next plane would arrive.  I decided to eat some food since my following flight would be a few hours with nothing more than some water and snacks that I can't eat.  I went to Burger King which has a chicken sandwich that can be wrapped in lettuce but I mainly went for their fries.  Now I wasn't sure if the items were cooked differently since it was in an airport, so I asked an employee if the chicken was cooked in a gluten-free way and she told me that is was.  I got my food and sat down to begin eating, but when I looked at the chicken, something looked odd.  It looked like the chicken was deep fried in flour coating.  Definitely not gluten-free by any definition.  I made sure to check with the employee one more time with visual evidence and yet again she insisted that it was gluten-free. Obviously, I knew this was not true so I gave my sandwich to another and enjoyed my fries.  This wouldn't be that bad if this was just a one-time thing but as in most stories, there is another.  Over the past summer, I attended Carnegie Mellon University to take a few college classes in the major that I want to pursue.  People in the Pre-College program were allowed to stay in the dorms and eat dorm food for the entirety of the 6-week program.  After a few weeks, no...days, I was sick of the dorm food and decided to spend meal plans at a different place on campus where I could order all sorts of other foods.  For 4 weeks I was led to believe the fries to be gluten-free by one employee; however, a manager finally asked me why I kept ordering gluten-free food and eating their beer battered fries.  I was astonished that the employee did not tell me or just didn't know about their own companies food.  As an employee of a fast food place myself, I take pride in knowing what foods are cooked with items that are unable to be consumed by many.  It is the duty of the employee to know the difference between each allergy and how to work with the customer to find a solution to their problem.  I hope that employers begin to take this issue more seriously and train their new employees to be able to recognize these problems and find solutions.  Not only does it reflect poorly on the employee, but also the company in this circumstance for their lack of knowledge of their own menu.  Spread the word to people.  Make sure people stay informed.

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