Monday, February 8, 2016

Food courts and food allergies

There seems to be more and more shellfish being served in food courts and that is of a concern for anyone with a shellfish allergy. I am one of those individuals that carries an EpiPen due to my life-threatening allergy to shellfish.

It is amazing how many food court locations are now offering some sort of shellfish as part of their menu. It has been a real challenge to find spots where I can have a lunch without having to be concerned about cross-contamination being an issue. Before it was a rare thing to see shellfish being offered as part of food court menus but now it seems to be everywhere.

Pizza/Pasta locations now offer shrimp as a part of their pasta dishes, Sub locations now have a shellfish/seafood sub, Greek locations offer shrimp as a meat and the Chinese food locations are also offering shrimp as a selection. It makes the selection in any food court very slim when it comes to someone that deals with a shellfish allergy. There are individuals (customers and servers) that don't understand the risk of cross contamination, so any food being offered at a specific location (where shellfish is offered) is a risk.

The concern for peanuts in a lot of food court locations seems to have eased, but now it is the shellfish which is the issue. Shellfish allergies is one of the most common allergies for adults and who are the ones that are going into the food court either themselves or with their families? It is amazing when you address the issue of a shellfish allergy to staff, within the various locations in the food court. A number of them are not aware of the risks and issues of food allergies. The lack of knowledge of the staff makes it a bigger issue for someone to eat at these locations because of the risk that they are taking.

Food courts have always been a place for a quick meal especially when you are on the go. For me, a food court now is a challenge to find a location that doesn't offer shellfish. Being aware of your allergies and how to handle them makes going out a little easier. Of course, there will always be challenges when eating out but being able to find places where I can eat would make my life just that little bit easier.

For food court owners, remember that shellfish doesn't need to be offered everywhere. There are people that you are preventing from eating at your location due to that shellfish. If even a few chains decided to eliminate shellfish from their menu in the food court it would make it easier for so many of us to eat in the food court.

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