Finding safe foods is always a bit of work with food allergies. Reading labels and knowing which
brands are safe takes time and patience to become familiar with. After awhile, you adjust and fall into a routine to keep yourself and family safe. Routine is nice. Routine is safe… usually.
We go to Red Robin more than I’d liked to admit. Part of the reason is, I feel safe there. Their customer service has always been outstanding. The servers and hostess are very kid friendly and most importantly, they understand food allergies. There’s always a list of allergy alerts they type into the computer with our order. The waitstaff is careful to clarify any questions concerning our order, even if it means coming back to our table. We go there so often, I’ve printed our order on the back of our own allergy alert cards.
This past Friday, I was busy with Christmas shopping and trying to not freeze in the cold Wisconsin air. I found myself at our local mall. Having more than one store together lead me to window shop for more gift ideas. Mr. Naughty was great in his stroller for almost 1 hour. We were there longer than we should have been; I ordered takeout from Red Robin since it’s connected to the mall. I had switched purses and forgot to fill it with my allergy alert cards. I thought a verbal order would be ok as long as I clarified all our allergies. I ordered and watched all our allergy alerts typed in and both the waitress and myself did a check list before she submitted the order to the kitchen. Everything was in order.
I arrived home and started to prepare Naughty’s lunch. I even grabbed a cool fry and fed it to him while I got his fruit ready. I picked up the burger and unwrapped it only to find my hand drenched in mayonnaise. I open the lettuce wrapper and found there was generous portion of mayonnaise on the top and bottom.
I was mad.
Not because Naughty was screaming for the highly allergic burger. Not because it was past lunch time and I didn’t have a lunch. I was mad because Mr. Naughty could have had an anaphylactic reaction and died. He is highly allergic to eggs. I was fuming. Egg allergy was clearly labeled on the allergy alert. I decided it would be more productive to wait until I calmed down to call and speak with a manager.
I called later in the afternoon and spoke with the allergy manager. I explained what happened; how the correct allergy alerts were entered but were ignored. He apologized right away and asked for the order number so he could speak with the team that prepared the order. He called me back after speaking with his team. The cook admitted making the mistake and explained it never should have happened. The manager also went into further detail of how they have specific allergy cookware for food allergies segregated in bins. I mentioned the fact that my receipt was also oil stained and contained a mushroom on the back. Cross-contamination should be looked at when plating food. He say he would have a meeting addressing this today before his shift was over. He apologized again and offered to send me a gift card to cover the costs of the meals. I accepted the card and his apology.
Although this experience was upsetting at the beginning, I am grateful it happened. This is a reminder to not get too comfortable with routine and to always inspect food not prepared in your home.
Some other thoughts:
- Always check your child’s food before they eat for any obvious mistakes.
- Make sure to call the restaurant as soon as possible to inform them of the mistake so they can educate staff members.
- Never let your guard down. Even if you’ve eaten at a restaurant before.
- Mistakes happen. We’re human. Use it as a teaching experience.
Have you ever had a bad experience dining out? If you have I’d love to hear your stories and what you’ve done to make it better.