FAQ FOR PATRONS:
How is Allergy Friendly Philadelphia Different from other Food Allergy Guides?
We are different from other Food Allergy Guides because we review diverse types of venues, not just places to eat, from a food allergy perspective. We use a specific, consistent approach for reviewing each place, highlighting the information most helpful to the Food Allergy Community. We are also local, so as to provide the most comprehensive and relevant experience for anyone with one or more of the top eight food allergies in the Philadelphia area.
Can I Really Trust What I Am Reading Here?
No food can be guaranteed to be Allergy-Free, unless you grow it yourself or raise it yourself. The goal of Allergy Friendly Philadelphia’s reviews is to reduce your risk when dining out, playing, or visiting Philadelphia’s museums and historic attractions. Each review is accurate to its date of publication. Remember, ingredients and suppliers may change, so you should always discuss your allergens with your server when dining out. Allergy Friendly Philadelphia’s reviews serve as a starting point to reduce your workload when looking for entertainment and dining out that is allergy-friendly.
Many of the Places You Review are Vegan, but Does That Mean Allergy-Free?
The “Vegan” label alone does not mean that something is free of Dairy, Egg, Fish, and Shellfish. See this article by Foods Matter for an in-depth explanation of this confusing situation. Before I discovered this fact, I often made this mistaken assumption when feeding my children out. When I review an eatery, I ask a series of questions specifically tailored to the allergy community, including whether they use any pre-made Vegan products. These questions don’t guarantee that there will be no cross contamination of allergens, but nothing, even what you make in your own kitchen, from scratch, is 100%. Even then, there can be mistakes, such as this flour contaminated with peanut. The best thing you can do to keep yourself or a loved one with allergies safe is to reduce your risk to the lowest level reasonably available. Only you can decide what that level of risk is for you or your family.
Why Don’t You Include My Allergy in Your Reviews?
Whenever possible, we include information relevant to as much of the Food Allergy Community as possible, including whether you can special-order a meal free of your allergens, regardless of menu offerings. We focus on the most common allergens to serve the largest group of people we can while still maintaining thoroughness and consistency.
Why aren’t you including my favorite gluten- free restaurant?
There are many guides for people who suffer from a single food allergy. I am focusing on places that serve people with multiple food allergies. (BTW, for great information on Gluten-free dining in Philadelphia, see Gluten Free Philly!)
What Kinds of Things Do You Look for When Reviewing an Eatery?
- Whenever possible, I speak to the owner and/or manager of an establishment.
- I ask whether they make any claims to be free of Food Allergens, and about their understanding of Food Allergies.
- I ask about food handling, and whether they or their employees have had any Food Allergy Training, such as FAAN’s “Welcoming Guests With Food Allergies”, or Serve Safe’s Training.
- When possible, I observe them prepare foods for persons with Food Allergies.
- How do the employees respond when asked to serve an allergy-sensitive meal? Do they seem to understand the request, follow directions, and make me feel comfortable?
- If relevant, would they be open to making any changes to improve service to the Food Allergy Community?
What Kinds of Things Do You Look for When Reviewing Attractions?
- Do they serve food? Do they have allergy-friendly options?
- Are food service areas and attractions separate? Is food allowed in the attraction area?
- If they prohibit food, how well do they enforce this rule? Is there obvious food residue or food waste in the attraction area?
- Do they clean the attraction area? How often?
- If relevant, would they be open to making any changes to improve the experience for the Food Allergy Community?
FAQ FOR BUSINESSES:
I own an eatery; how can I help patrons with food allergies navigate my business?
The first thing you can do to be an allergy friendly establishment is to have the ingredient list available for the foods you offer. In addition, if you can label foods with common allergens (such as “contains nuts” or “contains shellfish”), that will help patrons identify foods they should avoid.
Additionally, there are some resources specifically tailored to the restaurant industry to help you and your business. The first place for any business to start is with the SafeFARE program through Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE). They can guide you to training programs, as well as provide free education materials. Training programs for restaurants include: ServSafe’s Allergens Online Course/Assesment, the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network’s (FAAN) publication, Welcoming Guests With Food Allergies , and AllerTrain, which has online, webinar-based, and in-person classes available. FAAN’s publication is free for download and distribution within your business, and ServSafe’s training is $22 and available in Spanish or English.
I own a play space or manage an attraction or museum, how can I help patrons with food allergies navigate their visit safely?
Please contact me at AllergyPhilly@gmail.com I would be happy to meet with you and identify areas of danger for people with food allergies, as well as help you create a plan to better serve patrons with food allergies.