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Jessica Fowler
English 1020

Am I High Maintenance?

Growing up I was the youngest and I have always been daddy’s little princess, but that
doesn’t mean that I deserve to wear a crown. I say this because I
don’t think I need to be waited upon and my food served on a silver
platter, but when it comes to my health yes, I want complete focus
on my food. Fortunately for me Gluten-free food is becoming more
accessible at the local grocery stores, not to mention it’s the new
fad! So things seem to be great for those with Celiac, yet why is it such a burden to eat out. I feel
that restaurants, especially well know chain restaurants, should be knowledgeable and know how
to handle food properly for those not only with Celiac disease but also with other allergies. I
don’t mean to be high maintenance, but I do have expectations.

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There are many reasons that point to why restaurants have not yet hopped on the boat with
the new and uprising gluten-free fad. Gluten free food can end up costing more because of the
extra work to ensure that it was manufactured in a safe
environment, or may need to be specially ordered. Also at places
that serve pasta, corn noodles just take longer to cook. So it could
be considered a waste of time or just more work all together when
also considering that some recipes have to be changed completely.
Nevertheless I don’t believe these are good enough reasons to
ignore this issue.
It is estimated that up to 15 million Americans have food allergies; these diseases affect 1 in
every 13 children under the age of 18 and can be potentially deadly (Facts Section 2 “How Many
People Have Food Allergies”). There are allergies everywhere so why is it that the government
has not made it a requirement for education in this area at restaurants, or better yet the food
handler’s permit department. The topics covered in the food handlers permit course are as
 Introduction to Food Safety and
 Food-borne Illness
 Microorganisms
 Conditions Bacteria Require for
Growth (FATTOM)
 Allergens
 Safe Food Handling
 Understanding Cross-contamination
 Receiving and Storage
 Safe Food Service
 Food Handler Hygiene
 Cleaning and Sanitizing
 Pest Control
 Keeping food Safe During
 HACCP Food Safety Management
This information is taken from Food Handlers Training Courses. (Section 4 “Topics Covered in this Course

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From personal experience, they barely skim Allergens and
Understanding Cross-contamination which are the two
important topic when dealing with meals for those who are
food sensitive. I believe that this is one of the main
contributors to uneducated food workers.
Phoebe Damrosch Author of “Are Restaurants Responsible For Your Food Allergies?”
makes clear in her article that her view on the subject does not quite match up with mine.
Damrosch clearly states her opinion, “I'd say that restaurants are obligated to inform any guest,
allergic or not, exactly what is in his food; but they don't have to deal with the
allergy if they don't want to” (Damrosch par. 5). So in other words we should be
happy they are willing to inform us. Which I can agree is true but for the
restaurants that go out on a limb to offer these accommodations need to be
knowledgeable about them first!
In many cases starting off with “I need a gluten free meal” is nothing but confusion to the
waiter when ordering food. They either don’t know what gluten is, or they don’t take me as
serious as necessary because they think I just have a dislike for it or is simply following a fad.
Damrosch quotes a friend, “Those people give the rest of us a bad name," and she follows with
agreement, “And I have to agree. I have a serious intolerance for them” (Damrosch par. 7). I have
noticed though when out at lunch with my friend who has a peanut
allergy he doesn’t have employees assuming the worst in him like
they do me. I have found that “I have a peanut allergy” is much more
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well know and registers with the waiter better therefore they know that if they make a mistake,
my dear friend could merely drop dead. Damrosch further proves this point, “If a guest says she
is allergic to something, the kitchen has to assume that it is life threatening — not that the
customer might develop a rash...” (Damrosch par. 7). So I have decided that I could solve this
issue by rewording my request and saying “I have a gluten allergy, which includes wheat, rye,
and barley.” The word allergy is well known and is interpreted as a serious matter.
Tragically in more cases than not restaurants will not have any kind of gluten-free
alternatives and for those that do have a separate menu, you cannot automatically assume they
know how to properly serve you. Since being diagnosed, most the time going out to eat has been
nothing but a pain in the butt! Always having to explain myself and what I need can get
irritating. Even after all the work in explaining myself I still can’t always trust that I won’t go
home sick. The only way to gain trust for a restaurant is through trial and error.

To end on a good note Palo Alto Medical Foundation offers some tips on eating out. In
“Finding Ways Around Allergies & Sensitivities” they offer a few tips to help those with food
sensitivities that can still enjoy a good meal. Stay away from things like hamburgers or
milkshakes, they usually contain many harmful ingredients event though they may seem simple.
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Also see if you can substitute or take out anything that you cannot eat. For example if you want a
hamburger but cannot eat gluten see if they can swap the bun for lettuce. And of course, don’t be
afraid to be picky, after all you going out to enjoy your meal (Sabetan Section 2 “Eating at

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Works Cited
Damrosch, Phoebe. "Grub Street." New York. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Apr. 2014.
"Facts and Statistics." Food Allergy Research & Education. Food Allergy Research &
Education, n.d. Web. 06 Apr. 2014.
"Food Handler Training Courses - Food Safety - Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health
Unit." Food Handler Training Courses - Food Safety - Leeds, Grenville and Lanark
District Health Unit. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Apr. 2014.
Sabetan, Roujheen. "Finding Ways Around Your Food Allergies & Sensitivities." Food Allergy
& Sensitivity Tips. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Apr. 2014.

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