Why You Should Consider Calling A Restaurant If You Have Food Allergies

Around 32 million people in the U.S. have food allergies, which equates to roughly 10% of adults and 7% of children, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. If all of those people stopped eating out the restaurant industry could potentially tank, so most places are happy to answer any allergen-related questions and make accommodations for safety purposes.

That said, it makes it a whole lot easier on the eatery in question if the diner takes one extra tiny step before heading to the restaurant — call ahead. "If guests with food allergies called ahead, we'd be able to accommodate them a lot better," Carolynn Spence, executive chef of Shaker + Spear in Seattle, Washington, told Insider. This is because many places prep and mix ingredients ahead of time, so it's not as easy as just leaving something out to make it allergy-friendly. Spence says that if the restaurant had time to prepare, "it would be a different story."

Dining out with food allergies

It might seem like you're being needy to phone the venue ahead of time, but it's actually quite the opposite. By calling ahead, the customer effectively gives the chef enough time to make allowances for individual requests. That's way easier to do during non-peak hours than it is during the dinner rush. Or, if it's not possible to tweak the recipe to omit a problematic ingredient, the customer can find out ahead of time and land on another, safer option. The chef can even give personal recommendations, which is always a plus.

Most food-related allergic reactions are caused by eight culprits like milk, eggs, wheat, soy, tree nuts, peanuts, shellfish, and fish. An allergic reaction is known as anaphylaxis, and can range from mild to deadly. According to Mayo Clinic, signs of anaphylaxis include skin reactions (like hives, flushing, or itchy skin), airway constriction, trouble breathing, swollen tongue/throat, low blood pressure, rapid or weak pulse, dizziness, fainting, diarrhea, nausea, or vomiting. So, if food allergies are a concern, take the expert's advice and call ahead before dining out. It will save the chef, but more importantly the customer, a ton of trouble.