Monday, March 22, 2010

Online Allergy-Friendly Restaurant Guides

by Kelley Lindberg


Wouldn’t it be great if there were a website that listed all your local restaurants and told you how they handle food-allergic customers and which allergies they accommodate?

I’ve found two websites that may help do that someday. But both sites will require help from all of us to fill in the information.

AllergyEats.com is a website created by a father of two food-allergic boys who got tired of driving around looking for a safe restaurant. So he’s created this site. It’s a database of over 600,000 restaurants all over the country, and you can search the list by city, zip code, state, or restaurant name. Then it will display all the restaurants in your area, along with any ratings that other food-allergic people have entered.

I typed in Layton, and got a list of over a hundred restaurants within five miles of my zip code (who knew there were so many!). But the site is new enough that no one has rated any of the restaurants in my area yet. So I entered a rating for Red Robin based on my experience there back in the fall (I wrote a blog entry about that Red Robin experience.) Some cities, like Boston and Los Angeles, have quite a few restaurants that have been rated. Other cities have no ratings yet (but you can still use it to find a listing of almost all the restaurants in the area). If you’re traveling, check it out.

The other website, FoodAllergiesToGo.com, also depends on ratings from customers, and so far there are no listings for Utah. It lists only restaurants that users have entered. But you can find a few restaurants in many other states and a few other countries, so again, if you’re traveling, it’s worth checking out. I entered the same Red Robin review there, so Utah should have at least one allergy restaurant review show up soon.

With every newly diagnosed person with food allergies, one of the first questions they ask is about safe restaurants. “Where can I eat now?” “Can my kid eat fast food anymore?” “I’m sick of cooking and I need a break, but where can we go?”

On the Utah Food Allergy Network (UFAN) email forum, members often post those questions and other members send emails with great suggestions. But only people on that forum can see the answers. These websites will make it easier to share that kind of information with people all over the state and the country, neighbors, tourists, relatives, and the newly diagnosed and desperate (we’ve all been there!).

It may take a year or two before enough people have found these websites and entered ratings before they really become useful, but it seems like a godsend for those of us who have to deal with food allergies on a daily basis.

So please, if you have favorite restaurants that have been really helpful with your food allergies (or restaurants that were terrible, and you want to post a warning), go onto both of these websites and record your experience. It only takes a minute, and it can help take the stress out of someone else’s dining experience.

4 comments:

Douglas Jones said...

This is great information and a nice starting point. Hopefully, word will spread so ratings and comments will be posted to share with others.

Kelley J. P. Lindberg said...

I can just imagine what great resources these sites will be someday soon!

ann@FoodAllergiesToGo.com said...

www.FoodAllergiesToGo.com would love to have reader input. In addition, I travel often and contribute new information on a regular basis. Next stop is Munich, if and when the volcano settles down. Thanks for the great article.
Ann@FoodAllergiesToGo.com

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