Eating out with allergies: the ‘rules’

IMG_1611THERE I WAS, poised to press ‘publish’ on my next post: our top 10 allergy friendly places to eat from 2014. Finding safe spots is never easy, but over the past year we’ve clocked up a few favourites.

Then I realised I should probably preface this post with The Rules. They are the steps we take, and the key things we consider, whenever we eat out. I’m sure others will have more to add, but this is simply how we go about things. Here goes:

* I always ring and email in advance to check the manager and chef are aware, and in some cases we pre-order our meal. It starts as a sussing-out call – do they sound as if they know what they’re doing? If not, forget it. If they do, I’ll go into greater detail, stress that we need the food to be prepped free from cross-contamination, and find out what dishes are likely to be safe for Sidney to eat. I’ll usually summarise the allergies and what we’ve mutually agreed in an email before our booking date. If nothing else, it’s only fair to give a place advance warning where possible and to explain fully what we’re after. Continue reading “Eating out with allergies: the ‘rules’”

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Brave new world & breadsticks

DSC_0456NEWS that a posho West End restaurant has been forced to close its doors wouldn’t usually fill me with glumness. But, oh, how I am bemoaning the loss – temporary or not – of Locanda Locatelli.

The celebrated Portman Square hangout has been left homeless following a gas explosion in the five-star Hyatt Regency Churchill hotel that houses it.

And now its chef-patron, Giorgio Locatelli, says he may abandon the site and try to re-open elsewhere.

So why my gloom? Well, because a visit to Locanda Locatelli last year marked the beginning of a brave new world for us as a family. It’s where we ate our first meal out, fully catered for Sidney. Continue reading “Brave new world & breadsticks”

We cannot guarantee…

imagesSO today I had a call back from the head of the primary school we expect Sidney will be going to.

I had a mini tour of it a few weeks back and it seemed very warm and jolly. We were shown round by some older kids who were pretty clued up when I asked if any pupils had food allergies; I also spoke to the SENCO (the Special Needs Co-Ordinator) at the time, and she said all the right things. As soon as I walked into Reception I clocked the tots playing with egg boxes and lentils (!) but she assured me that equipment and lessons would all be made safe.

Then the head rang me today, because I requested a quick chat with him before we apply in January, and the first thing he said was: “It’s about allergies, isn’t it? Well, I have to say we can’t guarantee anything.” Continue reading “We cannot guarantee…”

Nearly. But not this time.

gjon-mili-star-hurdler-jim-humphrey-showing-off-his-high-hurdle-formGAH, WE fell at the final hurdle. We failed the baked egg challenge.

It was so close. Over the course of the morning, Sidney managed a whole muffin with no reaction and we were five minutes from being given the all-clear to go. In fact, the nurses had written his letter confirming a successful trial and we were gathering our coats when The Hive appeared. Continue reading “Nearly. But not this time.”

An open letter to Henry Dimbleby, author of the School Food Plan

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FROM September, the Government is to fund free school meals for every infant and primary school child in England. The groundbreaking policy is the brainchild of Henry Dimbleby, founder of the food chain Leon and author of the compelling School Food Plan.

There are excellent reasons for this, many of which are outlined here. But for parents of young children with food allergies, the policy has yet to prove itself.

There have been a few brief kerfuffles on Twitter over exactly how catering for allergies fits into the plan. To his immense credit, Dimbleby has responded to many of these questions personally and asked me and other ‘allergy parents’ to email him with our concerns. So here’s the letter that I sent to him: Continue reading “An open letter to Henry Dimbleby, author of the School Food Plan”

The good news (with a little tiny ‘but’)

images-4OUR VERY wonderful allergist, Dr Robert Boyle, has just released some new findings that should make reassuring reading for parents of children with diagnosed food allergy.

After collating data from 13 studies worldwide, he and his research team at Imperial College London have calculated that for children and young people with a food allergy  aged 0-19, the chance of dying from anaphylaxis in any one year is 3.25 in a million.

To put that in context, in Europe the risk of being murdered is 11 in a million. Continue reading “The good news (with a little tiny ‘but’)”