Eating out is a joy for most of us and food is often the focus of our social gatherings. But, for the more than 2.6 million Canadians who are affected by food allergies, eating out can be stressful. And for good reason.

Certain foods can cause a potentially life-threatening reaction, know as anaphylaxis, whose symptoms could include difficulty breathing, low blood pressure, and swelling. For those with food allergies, ingesting even a small amount of an allergen could be dangerous.

But eating out doesn’t have to be filled with anxiety. According to Beatrice Povolo, Director of Advocacy and Media Relations at Food Allergy Canada, those with food allergies can minimize their risk of allergic reaction by incorporating a few key strategies.

Be informed

“First and foremost, you need to do your homework,” explains Povolo. “Call the restaurant directly or check its website to see if they have an allergy policy and how they manage food allergy requests.” When possible, speak directly to the chef or restaurant manager to discuss your specific food allergies. Always disclose your allergy prior to ordering any meal, and always carry an epinephrine auto-injector such as an EpiPen® in case of emergencies.

Choose wisely

The Keg Steakhouse + Bar has been a pioneer in making it easier for those with food allergies to eat out. By instituting allergy protocols and encouraging staff to be proactive by asking patrons if they have food allergies, they’ve shown themselves to be a good choice for those with food allergies.

Well-known restaurants can be a good choice if you have allergies because they have a standardized menu and accessible nutritional information. “What differentiates us from other restaurants,” explains Steve McGoey, Culinary Director and Corporate Chef at The Keg, “is that we are completely transparent with what’s in our food and how we cook and prepare it. We inform our guests as best we can and allow them to make the decision as to what they consume or what modifications they would like to make to their food.”

Thanks to processes like these, eating out with food allergies can be much less challenging. Having the right information and clear communication can help create a much more positive and safe dining experience.

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