Since my daughter was diagnosed with a food allergy nearly 6 years ago, we’ve witnessed all kinds of awareness levels in stores and restaurants. We’ve been surprised with teenagers in ice cream shops going above and beyond, and wondered how people can work in restaurants and be so ill informed. We’ve seen signs that say if you have food allergies, you probably should go elsewhere.
The other day, we were in a high end chocolate shop in the mall. This is a larger chain and have in the past been very helpful with their chocolates, recommending pieces and making sure we know everything is manufactured with nuts, that sort of thing. They’ve even packaged our chocolates separately without asking. Bottom line, we feel fairly comfortable there and though those with more severe allergies may choose not to go there, my daughter loves it and has never had an issue.
However, at this visit, we were a little surprised at the lack of awareness we witnessed with allergies. The man helping us seemed to have no clue of allergies or the precautions people take. We had earned a box of two free chocolates in the rewards program, and he handed it to us. We asked what kind of chocolate was in it, and he told us, one being a praline. I know praline is usually made of nuts, but when asked him for clarification, he wasn’t sure so had to ask someone else (he works in a chocolate shop!!!). I was right, it did. I told him we needed to know as my daughter has allergies, and instead of asking to swap it out or even skip it, he laughed and said that it would be a nice treat for me.
Now don’t get me wrong, I may very well eat it, but I may not. I’m kind of in the middle of where I stand on eating nuts myself. We went so long on a total family ban that I don’t even like them much myself anymore. But I think what bothered me was his lack of awareness. Sympathy was lacking, too, but I don’t really care about that, it was the awareness. I think it’s part of his job to not only know the ingredients of his product, but to know the effect they have on people. Many people won’t eat what their children are allergic to for fear of cross contamination, and I support that a hundred percent.
I also don’t expect anyone to monitor what we eat or purchase, I guess I just would have liked to have seen a bit more conscientiousness and awareness. I really think they can do better than that.