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Food Poisoning/Allergy Protocol...thoughts?

I have a lethal allergy to sea food. I've had it forever, and either avoid being around it, ordering anything that might have it, or tell the server about it, to relay the chef.
That being said, I realize that I take risks whenever I eat out. Recently, I went to a place where I'd eaten a numbe of times. I told the waiter about my allergy, and didn't think anything more about it. Long story short, wound up in the emergency room with a needle being jabbed in my leg to bring me back from the brink.

So here's my question. Should I have told the restaurant about it? I mean, I did take the risk by eating there (vietnamese place and super yummy).... I'm not about to sue them, I don't want to make anyone feel bad...


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  1. I think you should mention it to the restaurant. You are their customer--the reason they exist. Without regular customers, restaurants will fold. If you remember the dish, mention it to them.

    1. definitly tell the restaurant , next time somebody might not be so lucky. Hopefully they will learn from the mistake

      1. Don't you carry an epi-pen?

        I know that lethal food allergies exist. I have one to peanuts. If you have a anaphalactic reaction to seafood, why don't you carry an Epi-pen, and why do you eat at Vietnamese restaurants (hard to avoid the fish sauce)? Also, ALWAYS tell your dining companions about your allergy and where you keep your Epi-pen. They make trainer Epi-pens, so you can have your friends & family practice injecting you.

        For people who want to learn more about deadly food allergies and how to react to them, visit the food allergy site:


        2 Replies
        1. re: bluemonster

          I had my epipen w/me. Somtimes, reactions are delayed, depending on the situation. In my case I felt myself getting a reaction, I immediately left, chewed on a some benedryl to see if that would do it, by the time I got to the emergency, it was quite clear to my friend that the pills wouldn't cut it, and of course the emergency room staff didn't do anything, so he was forced to give me my shot right there in the emergency room....

          1. re: rednax8

            Thanks, that makes me feel better. I know of two people (not friends, but distant acquaintances) who died from food allergies from "hidden" ingredients in food. Neither had an epi-pen on them.

            I can't believe that the ER didn't do anything for you... if it ever happens again, call 911--the paramedics can give you a stronger dose of Epi sooner than waiting at an ER.

            Good luck!!!

        2. Rednax8, glad your story had a happy ending. Just curious, are you allergic to all sea food? Do you think it was cross contamination or something in your dish? I am deathly allergic to shellfish & am always wary when ordering in Asian restaurants (shrimp paste, using same oil for deep fried food). For this reason, I don't eat at these restaurants often. Egg/spring rolls are about the only thing I order that are deep fried but sometimes I wonder...

          1. Yep, DEFINITELY tell the resto. While you're not about to pursue a lawsuit, the next person to have a reaction may go the other route. Also, the kitchen may need a refresher course in cross contamination. I have a severe nut allergy myself and take an epipen wherever I go. While I always inform my server of this I do realize that eating out is always a crapshoot. I'm sure the resto will thank you for letting them know (hopefully they'll also take the opportunity to apologize). My gosh, I'm glad you're okay!

            1. I've seen some allergy sufferers carry a business card (you can print it yourself on the computer) that says:

              "I have a lethal allergy to seafood. I cannot eat foods that contain any amount, even a small amount, of (provide a list, include fish sauce) without risking a trip to the Emergency Room and possibly death. Please guide me as to what menu items I can safely eat." You give this to the server, who gives it to the chef on duty.

              I agree with the other posters who have asked you directly about the risks you're taking,
              the use of an epi pen, and informing friends. By the way, you made yourself feel bad beacuse you didn't want to make anyone else feel bad. Please take better care of yourself.

              2 Replies
              1. re: maria lorraine

                And I've also seen restaurants ask allergy sufferers to vacate the premises for fear of an attack and future lawsuit. Depending on how sensitive one is to seafood it may be the only option. One grilled/fried shrimp may "contaminate" the entire kitchen with sizzling oil and vapor for the rest of the day.

                1. re: tom porc

                  When I had my restaurant a customer with a large group had a lethal allergy to peanuts and who asked me what she could eat. After discussing what was prepared where in my kitchen, it was agreed that she shouldn't eat anything at all. I just couldn't take the risk of preparing something for her that might not be cross contaminated (and she didn't want salad).

              2. I would tell them so that hopefully they will take the time to better educate their staff about food allergies, as other posters have noted. I understand the impulse to not make them feel bad, but if you explain that you are trying to help them avoid a "next time" they should understand. I find myself embarrased sometimes to have to explain the problem - especially when it becomes a Big Deal - know how I mean? You're trying to give information that may be useful, and they freak out... good luck.
                In other news, benadryl has a new quick dissolve strip that acts much faster than the pills... I find them very useful in these situations.

                1. I don't get how you didn't have a reaction right there in the restaurant? I also am deathly allergic to seafood and carry an epi pen with me wherever I go. If I eat something that has come in contact with or contains seafood, an anaphylactic reaction will not take long.

                  If you had a reaction that required an emergency visit and bringing you back from the brink - didn't it happen in the restaurant? meaning they would know about it???

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: maisonbistro

                    yup, reaction started immediately, and I was @ the hospital in a matter of minutes...

                  2. Just curious if you've contacted the resto yet and what happened if you did.

                    1. There are allergies and there are allergies. Jfood is allergic to nuts but only to the extent that if he eats them he turns beet red, scratches like a dog with fleas and has the lips that a plastic surgeon would love. Sorry for the visual. And he carries an epi-pen for safe keeping. In fact there are usually several in key spots. And jfood receives dishes with nuts often, even after telling the server.

                      But you have a lethal allergy and seem to want to be selective in giving this info to people who are in control of your life. PLEASE tell the MOD, the resto and the server about the allergy. Benedryl takes ~20 minutes to "kick in" and it sounds like 20 is too long for you.

                      This is not an annoyance but a life threatening situation. Glad your here to post the positive results.

                      1. I don't know that you should "tell" them, especially if you know you're taking a particular risk as you seem to have. It's one thing if a customer ASKS and is misinformed let alone not "cautioned," but as you note, the real answer would have been "sorry, we can't really help you, try elsewhere" and it sounds like you pretty much knew that going in.

                        Same deal in pretty much any not-so-Americanized Asian resto I'd think, seafood appearing in seasoning/flavoring amounts *somewhere* in most of them, and in some much more than others. You don't say what you actually ate or how sensitive you've been historically, so we don't know if you reacted to something as minor as fish sauce or maybe less minor like dried seafood used to flavor a soup broth or something like that. And I do assume you must have a fairly serious allergy there if you need to carry around the pen.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: MikeG

                          (I got caught up in the later posts more than the original, but can't edit replies from this computer (?) )

                          By all means tell them and I'm sure they'll be at least "interested," but how specific were you when mentioned it to the waiter? Even in a not-so-Americanized Chinese restaurant there's always the danger of lurking oyster sauce for example, and a waiter just told that you were allergic to "seafood" might not unreasonably fail to make the connection with minor flavoring/seasoning ingredients taken for granted in that cuisine. With a very serious allergy, most Asian restaurants realistically would have to tell you to go elsewhere or, even with some care, eat there at your own risk - which you seem to know anyway.

                        2. Did you leave a tip?

                          1. It is your responsibility to tell your server this info.
                            I would also tell a manager if I were you.

                            1. Glad you are ok now and I hope that you have an epinephrine autoinjector. Both manufacturers of Epi-Pen and Auvi-Q offer coupons online so the pens are either free or very low cost.

                              I think it would bring a lot of awareness to the issue of food allergies in Asian restaurants if you talk with the restaurant manager. FARE has a couple of training programs specifically designed for restaurants. http://www.foodallergy.org/training-p...

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: SharonNutFreeWok

                                I agree with Sharon. where is your epi pen?? don't mean to shame you but alway carry.