Unfortunately my visit to Figo Pasta at Perimeter last night did not go as well as the ones in the past. After eating there several times and feeling comfortable with their food allergy understanding, I decided to branch out to other sauces.
I was interested in the pesto sauce so I asked the woman taking my order if she could double check that there wasn't dairy in the sauce. She was knowledgeable enough to check the ingredient list and confirmed that she was “100% positive there [was] no dairy in the sauce.” Unfortunately for her, the ingredient list doesn’t seem to include garnishes…
The pasta came out looking beautifully bright green with white specs all over it. I immediately knew they had garnished it with cheese. The waitress actually handled it very well and was very apologetic.
Fortunately for me I was able to recognize the cheese before I ate it. Also, I have an intolerance; it could have been a much different story for someone with a true allergy.
The key thing about this is I don’t blame any of the staff there; I blame the behavior of quick service restaurants. They just don’t provide their employees with the information they need. If you garnish a dish, those ingredients should be listed as well. The employees should be trained to recognize food allergies and note them on the ticket so kitchen staff knows as well.
There are several comprehensive and free programs for restaurants to learn how to manage food allergies properly – from the front of the house to the back of the house. I hope this post will help at least one restaurant learn how to better educate their staff about food allergies.
The Culinary Institute of America has a great free, online program that I highly recommend to all restaurants.
The Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN), one of the world’s leading food advocacy groups, also has a program for restaurants.http://www.foodallergy.org/page/food-allergy-training-guide-for-college-and-university-food-services1