Situation Food Allergy: An unsafe meal


Situation Food Allergy: You find a full tree nut in your “allergy-safe” dish. What do you do?

This scenario is taken from a real situation, which happened while my parents, sister and I were celebrating a special dinner at what was one of my favorite national chains, P.F. Chang’s. Over the next few weeks, I will be writing a series of occasional posts about my incident, about my talks with their national headquarters, and about my takeaways. I have recommended P.F. Chang’s to a lot of people with food allergies over the years. Unfortunately, after talking with P.F. Chang’s, I can’t in good conscience recommend them to someone with a food allergy. More on that in upcoming posts.

Today, let’s start with a simple scenario.

Your family of four is celebrating a special dinner at one of your favorite restaurants. When you arrive, you follow the allergy protocol. You talk to a manager about your allergy, inform the waitress, and order from the special menu. When the meal arrives, you double check with the waitress that it is safe.

Indeed, it looks awesome.

Your family begins to the enjoy the meal. Since you also ordered a safe appetizer first, it takes you a few extra minutes before you dig into your main meal. As you always do, you give the meal a quick glance. That’s when you see it.

“Dad, what is this?”

Your dad grabs your fork and looks at the item.

Is it garlic? A vegetable?

Nope. It’s a tree nut. A full tree nut.

Panic ensues at the table…

“Did you eat anything yet?” he demands.

“Are you OK?” my mom gasps, reaching for my Auvi-Qs. “Look at me…”

After he confirms you are OK, your dad grabs the plate and rushes to the manager. The manager’s expression tells you everything you need to know. Indeed, it is a full tree nut. Indeed, someone in the kitchen messed up.

Your trust is once again shattered. The celebration meal is ruined. And your anger towards your allergy is as toxic as the nut you almost ate.

What would each family member do in that situation?