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Top 15 tips for dining out with food allergies

Research presented at the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology Annual Scientific Meeting (ACAAI) investigated how people prevented an allergic reaction to foods at restaurants.

Food allergies can be fatal when it triggers a severe allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. As a significant number of these fatalities come from foods ingested outside the home, researchers sought to discern the strategies people use to prevent life-threatening reactions and the efficacy of their methods.

In the study presented at the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology Annual Scientific Meeting (ACAAI), Ade and colleagues deployed a questionnaire to a food allergy network in Ohio to assess eating behaviours in restaurants among its members. When the researchers examined the answers, they found that people who used more preventative strategies experienced fewer reactions overall. Among those who had never experienced an allergic reaction in restaurants, there was an average of 15 risk-reducing actions applied. When an allergic reaction is nearly lethal, members who only utilized six techniques previously, also increased it to 15.

The study suggests these 15 top tips to minimize the risk of food allergies when dining out:

  1. Speak to a waiter as soon as you arrive
  2. Order food with simple ingredients
  3. Double check your food before eating
  4. Avoid restaurants with a high likelihood of contamination
  5. Ask to speak to a manager
  6. Go to a restaurant with allergy accommodations
  7. Inform those you are dining with about your food allergies
  8. Choose a familiar restaurant
  9. Order familiar food at a familiar restaurant
  10. Ask to speak to a chef
  11. Ask how the food is prepared
  12. Call ahead of time to check the ingredients they use
  13. Ask to read any labels
  14. Wipe the tables
  15. Supplement a part of the meal

Although these tips may seem laborious, Ade notes that “these are things that become second nature for some people, and it probably takes less than five minutes to do […]”. As a result, dining out does not have to be a health hazard nor an anxiety-inducing experience due to the fright of anaphylaxis. The risk of allergic reaction by food consumption can be mitigated by being vigilant.

Written by Helen Marzec


  1. Ade, J., Kerns, L.A., Glick, A., & Apperson, C. (2018). Preventing Food Allergy Reactions at Restaurants: Comparing Strategies Used Between Reactors and Non-Reactors. [Abstract]. Retrieved from
  2. Safest way to dine out for those with food allergies is using up to 15 strategies. (2018). Retrieved from
  3. Gordon, S. (2018). Dining out with allergies is tough, but these steps can help. Retrieved from


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