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Feb 28, 2011 01:29 PM

Travel to Italy with Food Allergies.

Hi, We are travelling to Italy in March for a week. We will be in Rome and may go to Venice for a night. My 5 yr old daughter has severe peanut/tree-nut, egg & soy protien allergy. (Soy Lechtin and Soy oil are fine for her) I have made a letter in Italian listing her allergies requesting that her food be free of contamination too. I have memorised the italian words for what all she is allergic too.
Any other advice from anyone with food allergies ? How aware are the restaurants about food allergies ? Also is egg-free pasta available at the restaurants ? And is Lupin dough flour mixed in for pizza/pasta dough ? She might be allergic to Lupin too as peanut & lupin are similar. Any recommendations of any stores/restaurants where we can eat. ? Are all the packaged food products labelled for ingredients ?
I am very worried about the trip.

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  1. Traveling with food allergies, in particular to different countries, is indeed very challenging. My understanding is that Italy is one of the better-informed countries when it comes to food allergies. I have Celiac Disease so can certainly empathize with your plight. In fact, there is a post on CH here

    My husband and I frequent Italy and are going again in May, my first time gluten free. Makes me nervous, especially re cross contamination. There are some suggestions on the post including a few restaurants plus the recommendation to buy things at markets.

    To be honest I don't know about lupin dough flour in Italy - I just know that I cannot have any gluten. This website is for Celiacs in Italy but perhaps there would be some information that may be of some use to you, or perhaps give you some further ideas.

    2 Replies
    1. re: chefathome

      Thank You. I will check out the website out.

      1. re: chefathome

        chef, the link you posted to your other thread is invalid because of the period at the end. here's a working one:

      2. I wish I could give you some comforting news, and tell you everything is going to be ok. But the situation in Italy, especially in restaurants, in not very good if you have severe food allergies.
        First of all, most restaurants will probably not really understand or take seriously the severity of the problem, and think that just a little bit of whatever you're allergic to won't actually hurt. It just comes from ignorance.
        To give you a related example, vegetarians are constantly presented with dishes that contain pancetta (bacon) since "it's just a bit, and not really meat anyway."
        Most pasta in restaurants doesn't contain egg (unless it's fresh pasta, like fettucine) and of course you should be safe with rice.
        My advice would be to by hyper vigilent and always ere on the side of refusing food if you suspect something. Also, come prepared (I'm sure you travel with an epi pen) and, at least while you are in Rome, if you have any trouble at all the children's hospital here is called Bambin Gesu.
        Good luck!

        3 Replies
        1. re: minchilli

          Yes, I plan to be hyper vigilent. Our rental apartment has a kitchen so I plan to cook most meals. My 13 yr old son loves to eat out so we will have to find a balance. Great to know that the pasta in restaurants doesn't contain eggs (I will check with them of course) Pasta with alfredo sauce and cheese pizza is all we need for my little girl.
          Thank You

          1. re: Puri

            Don't ask for pasta with Alfredo sauce in Rome, except perhaps at the two Alfredo restaurants that claim to have invented it and other touristy restaurants. Besides, it's generally made with fresh pasta that contains eggs.

            Ask for spaghetti al burro, made with butter and Parmesan and without cream. Spaghetti is never, ever made with eggs.

            1. re: zerlina

              Thank You so much for this info. We will stick to Spaghetti al burro.

        2. The above post is a good summary on eating with allergy. Though neither my partner nor I have any food allergies, we have a nephew who have the same peanut/tree nut allergy and egg. When he visited us in Venice, it was very difficult to dine out. The primary reason being cross contamination. Most commercial dry pasta (some do such as dry egg noodles) do not contain eggs but almost all restaurants that offers both dry and fresh egg pasta, will invariably use the same pot of pasta water to cook both types or use the same utensils. Pizza dough do not have lupin nor eggs, therefore, not a problem, so are most breads. Commercial packaged food products will have ingredient labels, often in more than one language. Fortunately, his egg allergy is not so severe that any trace would trigger a strong reaction. Many restaurants will try to accommodate those with allergies but there is so much going on in a busy restaurant kitchen that it is too much to expect them to follow such a strict guideline. Since we've spent time in Venice for years, we've come to know our merchants and the staff of a few favorite restaurants; it was easier to make our request known and they took it seriously. Still, most of the time, we just found it easier to cook in.

          1 Reply
          1. re: PBSF

            Great to know that pizza dough doesn't generally contain lupin. Cheese pizza is my daughter's favorite so she will be happy with that ! Thank You for the info about the same water used for egg & egg-free pasta. I will check that. Every tip helps !
            Thank You

          2. Got back from our trip last night. Everything went fine. We always ate at the Trattorias. The owner or chef would discuss what my daughter could eat which would always be cheese pizza and sphaggeti with cream sauce. The packaged food is clearly labelled. Some restaurants did not want a head-ache and told us that there was nothing we could order for her. Egg is there in almost everything - in pizza dough in some restaurants. One had lupin in pizza dough. Others did not know what lupin is. Overall a great experience,

            17 Replies
            1. re: Puri

              Oh good! So glad you had a positive - and delcious? - experience!

              1. re: Puri

                Thank you for reporting back. Good that you asked about eggs in pizza dough; who would have thought.

                1. re: PBSF

                  Im very glad the trip worked out safely, interesting info, but I dont quite believe that bit about eggs being in pizza and everything - maybe packaged food. Eggs are definitely not part of the canonical ingredient list for pizza dough.

                  Ditto the lupin - could the standard italian pizza flour tipo 00 really include this without labelling? .Seems, again it might be picked up on a commercial packaged product label for a cookie or cracker, etc. which use a lot of additives and industrial substances, but Im not so sure that it would be included in the standard 00 flour used by reputable pizzerias.

                  1. re: jen kalb

                    I agree with you about the egg and lupin in pizza dough. Egg would make the crust tender rather than crispy. And lupin, only if it is ground fine and it is not even a type of flour. Tipo 00 flour is the standard flour for pizza dough and 100% from wheat. Maybe there was some mis-communication.

                    1. re: jen kalb

                      Jen - If you don't have egg allergy you can believe it or not. But if you have egg allergy then please do believe it. Most of the pizzerias use egg for making the pizza dough. And lupin was used by only one of the several we checked out. Others did not even know what lupin was. And ice- creams other than fruit sorbets contain egg. Even the famous Grom Gellataria used egg in Choclate ice-cream.

                      via del Campanile, Florence, Tuscany 50122, IT

                      1. re: Puri

                        I just dont know what the basis of the information is, maybe poor communication, someone nodding and agreeing without really knowing what they are being asked in a different language?
                        Anyway, I would be interested to hear more about where and how this info was obtained since it is so contrary to what I understand..

                        The recipe for pizza dough in italy is pretty clear and simple. It involves wheat flour , water, yeast and salt. Egg is an expensive ingredient (strange to add to a cheap, basic and canonical product) and would change the nature of the dough, including texture, taste and color.. I wouldnt expect to see it in italian pizza dough any more than in pita bread or chappatis. (not to say its absent in all pizzas in the US) I have seen pizzas with an egg on top but thats a whole different thing.

                        anyway glad that everybody came back safe and healthy. and hope your trip was otherwise enjoyable.

                        1. re: jen kalb

                          Basis of communication was a letter written in Italian by an Italian friend. Frankly not needed as most of the owners spoke good english. They would reassure me that we were not the first to come to their restaurant with food allergies and they understood what we wanted. Very friendly & helpful.. The very first restaurant we went to - The Irish Pub on Via Nazionale in Rome used egg in pizza dough. Like I said, if you don't have egg allergy it really makes no difference.

                          1. re: Puri

                            Well going with a letter in Italian and asking (as you did) is the best thing to do when you have a special need. dont know that an irish pub is representative of italian pizza culture, but at least your letter helped you sniff out an issue there.

                          2. re: jen kalb

                            I have heard about egg in pizza dough some time ago. The protein in the egg helps the crust to be more "crusty", "croccante". I have been told this is a trick that some pizza makers use, especially if they use lower (or at least say wrong) quality flour, that doesn't have enough proteins. I know it sounds ridiculous, but seems to be true (and sad).

                          3. re: Puri

                            Hi Puri-- just a clarification on Grom; their intolerance guide ( shows that, of the 36 or so flavours of ice cream and sorbets, only 7 contain eggs. Egg-alergic chocolate lovers can enjoy the fabulous chocolate-hazelnut baci gelato without fear, and the non-chocolate sorbets are egg-free as well.

                            I know that eggs aren't uncommon in ice-cream, but it is in fact possible to get ice-cream without them. Happy news for the allergic and intolerant.

                            1. re: sinjawns

                              Not really. There is not much choice if you are allergic to all tree-nuts too. So there really was no choice other than the fruit sorbets which she doesn't like. Children like regular flavors like Vanilla & Choclate

                              1. re: Puri

                                While recognizing that your little one has multiple allergies (thus making ice cream problematic) I just wanted to clarify your statement re: eggs, above: "And ice-creams other than fruit sorbets contain egg."

                                ...29 of the regular flavours at Grom don't have egg.

                                Eliminating egg, nut and soy... choices drop down to 8 gelati and 11 sorbetti, which is still a decent choice for most; admittedly, some might be not to every child's taste.

                                For future reference (don't know where you live...Grom is in New York and other cities too), the Stracciatella (vanilla with chocolate chips) might hit the spot-- it shows as gluten-egg-nut-soy free.

                      2. re: Puri

                        Hello, I am so happy your trip to Italy was a safe and successful one. We too are planning a trip to Italy this summer. My 9 yr. old son is extremely allergic to Peanuts and Tree nuts and have been very worried about this trip as well. I was reading your comment about the ice creams "gelato" . Was your daughter able to eat any? We don't have an egg allergy - do you think he may be able to eat some ice creams? Also were you able to eat any packaged items eg. snacks? Are the labelling laws similare to ours (Canada) where you have to list the top allergens? Sorry for all the questions, I'm sure you can relate to my uneasiness. Again so so happy for you and your family!!!

                        1. re: Bran7

                          Will be more than happy to share all the information with you. I did a lot of research. I contacted the Italian Allergy association to confim that the labelling laws are the same as in USA. Yes- they are. All the ingredients are listed. ( This started in Nov. 2005 before which only major ingredients were listed.) So that is a relief !
                          I also made a list of the italian names for all nuts. (Can email the list to you) So you can check the ingredients as mostly they are in italian.
                          And yes he can eat the Gelatos as egg was a majot issue not nuts. Some of them have the ones with nuts in a separate section. So just make sure of that.
                          And do check if the pizza / pasta contains lupin. Lupin protien is similar to that of peanut. There was only one pizzeria we came across which used Lupin. Others had not even heard of it. Talk to the owners/ chefs. They are very friendly and helpful.
                          I had made a letter in italian about my daughters allergies. I can delete the egg/soy part and email it to you along with the letter from the Italian Allergy association about their advice.
                          Even though you would like to eat all the yummy italian food just want to let you know that you can check out the McDonald (Italy) web-site. They list all the allergens clearly. That came in very handy as there is a McDonalds everywhere in Rome. Grom Gellatos too lists all the allergens on their website.
                          Please don't hesitate to ask any questions. I am an allergy mom and know how stressful travel is. My daughter is allergic to all tree nuts/peanuts/eggs & soy protien

                          via del Campanile, Florence, Tuscany 50122, IT

                          1. re: Puri

                            THANK YOU SO MUCH!!! Yes anything you have (letters) would be very much appreciated, if it's not too much trouble. Is there a phone number for the Italian Allergy Association and if so do they speak English? Although my background is Italian, my language speaking skills are far from proficient! I am very new to message boards, in fact this is the first one I've signed up on. How can I get you my email address? And is it okay to post it here? Thanks again. I am feeling much better about going from hearing your story...thanks!!

                            1. re: Puri

                              Hi Puri,

                              I was wondering what information you included as part of your letter. I am travelling to Italy with my boyfriend (Florence and Venice) and he has a severe allergy to all peanuts and tree nuts. Thanks!

                              1. re: bellap

                                The letter stated that my daughter is seriously allergic to peanuts/all tree nuts (for her it was eggs too). Her life could be in danger if she ate any of these.
                                It had a request to the chef to make sure there is no contamination. I made a list of the peanuts/tree nuts. Wrote the possible foods that contained these like dressings/nutrella/peanut oil/ etc and attached a picture of each just to make sure.
                                You can then use Google translate. Everyone is very helpful and you will have a good time. Just be careful of cross contamination in Gelattos. Ask for a clean scoop

                        2. Hi Puri --

                          It's been a while since you posted this, but I found it in the archives. I am traveling to Italy next month with my almost 2 year old son, who has peanut, egg, tree nut, shellfish, and legume allergies, and I was wondering if you would be willing to share your letter you wrote in Italian? We are also traveling to Paris and Luzern, so I need to translate names of allergy food and a letter in French and German -- how did you translate your letter into Italian? Your help would be most appreciated!


                          4 Replies
                          1. re: patsat

                            there are companies that sell pre-printed food allergy travel translation cards in many languages, and i know one of them accepts special order requests for people in situations like yours where someone has unique or numerous allergies and needs several translations. that would probably be the ideal solution for you. here's a link to their special orders web page:

                            i'm sure they can create something that will give you peace of mind and allow you to relax and enjoy your trip. good luck, and travel safely!

                            1. re: patsat

                              Will be more than happy to help. We are in India right now and the letter is back home in the USA. I Will reach on the 18th July. Can email the letter after that. I just wrote the letter in english then translated in Italian using Google translate. I made a list of all the nuts and translated them. Finally I got the letter checked by an Italian friend. The main problem for my daughter was eggs. It is added to the pizza dough and most pastas have egg in it. she could have sphaggeti with cream sauce. The chefs are very helpful everywhere and will make a dish that will work. Gellatos too have egg. The fruit ones will be fine but make sure that they wash the scoop.
                              I took bread from home so she could have bread and cheese for breakfast. let me know if you have any questions. I know how stressful travelling is when you have food allergies in the family

                              1. re: Puri

                                Patsat, just want to precise two of puri's comments: pizza *may* have eggs in it (see my comment above, from last year) but it is not general practice like it sounds in puris comment. And most pasta does not have egg in it, actually it is the other way around. Almost all fresh pasta will have egg (ravioli for example) and most of non fresh pasta is without eggs, like spaghetti, bucatini, rigatoni, penne, etc. Long and flat pasta (like fettucini) may be both ways, you'll have to ask.

                                1. re: Puri


                                  Thanks for your help. I will try the Google translation. We are actually leaving on July 8th, so you will not be returning in time. Egg is one of our issues, too, so your notes about avoiding eggs is helpful. As are vinorama and others' comments.