Here's How In-N-Out Burger's 'Allergy Button' Works

Going out to eat when you have a food allergy can be a bit of a logistical nightmare, but restaurants are progressing in their safety measures to accommodate allergies. It's vitally important that they do so because, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundations of America, 26 million adults and 5.6 million children have food allergies. That number is growing every year. Severity can range from mild to deadly, which is why it's so important for restaurants to take them very seriously. According to Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE), medical procedures to treat anaphylaxis resulting from food increased by 377% between 2007 and 2016.

Websites like Allergy Eats create a space for customers with food allergies to share their experiences at different restaurants regarding safety and accommodations. Every year they rank the Top 10 Most Allergy-Friendly Chain Restaurants, and in their 2020 ranking, In-N-Out Burger was the second most allergy-friendly chain. It had an average rating of 4.64 out of 5. This is no surprise because In-N-Out has a comprehensive allergen list on their official website. Also, according to the Celiac Community Foundation of Northern California, their entire menu (excluding their hamburger buns) is gluten-free, and they take extra precautions when someone has an allergy. Keep in mind, even if a restaurant lists certain precautions, there are no guarantees, so consider calling the restaurant ahead of time to ask about their procedures.

It's a real button and it alerts the staff to enact specific safety protocols

Jennifer Iscol, the President of the Celiac Community Foundation of Northern California, interviewed a customer service representative and a manager at In-N-Out to get the scoop on their allergy precautions. The employees told her that there is an actual "allergy button" that they press when a customer specifies that they have one. Once the button is pressed, it starts a line of communication about how the food needs to be bagged. Procedures include changing gloves when the order reaches each station, using different equipment, and using a different part of a grill or surface that's been cleaned and sanitized. 

Iscol commends some In-N-Out Burger locations for their safety, efficiency, and training, but mentions that they could improve their consistency. She notes that many people commented that their In-N-Out location was not as committed to safety as she described when she published this article. As the age-old saying goes, don't trust everything you read on the internet and put your safety first when dining out with a food allergy.