Lifestyle

Allergy waivers give restaurants permission to put lives at risk

The other option was for Thomas to eat from the kitchen but sign a waiver, acknowledging there could be cross contamination.

Without sounding like a comedian from 2001, this is honestly health and safety gone mad.

Pianoworks is not alone in their approach either – sources in the event industry told me this is becoming commonplace.

Accommodation and hospitality has been replaced with a house party attitude of bring your own Tupperware (BYOT).

The waiver highlights a growing and troubling attitude to allergies, a one size fits all approach that is harmful, exclusive and similar to the ‘may contain’ label warnings being applied across most food products.

The legal and ethical implications are also worrying – when allergy sufferers are signing these waivers, what exactly are they agreeing to?

If I do eat and have a severe reaction, it is not your fault? Am I saying it is okay to take no care when preparing my food? Will my family be able to mention your company at my funeral?

Would you eat meat at a restaurant if they couldn’t guarantee it was cooked? Imagine the outrage at then being asked to sign a document, just in case that meat is raw.

In a reply on Twitter, Pianoworks compared their policy to EasyJet’s recent ban of all nut products saying they were not willing to ‘abandon the use of nuts’.

This strange response portrays an attitude I have faced on countless flights where fellow passengers suddenly feel victimised for not being able to eat a specific snack for two hours.

It’s why there needs to be an all-out ban at 20,000 feet in the air to stop someone dying, but the allergy community aren’t asking restaurants to abandon anything. Instead we are asking for food we are paying for to be prepared with care and to not lead to an allergic reaction.

Good examples of restaurants dealing with allergies are Wagamama and Bill’s who will ask arriving customers if they have any.

I can actually eat out with friends at these places and feel safe and all restaurants should follow suit. The answer is not to default to banning allergy sufferers instead of the things they are allergic to.

I’m not expecting a binder on arrival from every place I go to eat in but at the very least have the serving staff ask me before I have to tell them about my allergies.

I recently went to a family meal at a small Lebanese place in Watford, called Tarboush. Not holding any expectations of them being able to accommodate my allergies, I was just going to pick at the pitta and drink my wine, but they prepared all my food separately and made the effort to recommend certain dishes they could recook without my no-go ingredients.

This shows that no matter the size, most kitchens have the tools and expertise to be able to create safe food.

And companies need to understand that ‘safe food’ is different from 100% guaranteed nut-free – which all allergy sufferers understand.

We take a risk just by allowing someone to cook our food for us, so don’t shrug off all responsibility by not serving food to allergy sufferers or introducing things like waivers and extortionate corkage.

Like everyone, when we eat out we want to enjoy ourselves and know we’re safe, and we don’t want to have to eat out of a lunch box or sign our life away to do so.

MORE: Restaurant makes customers sign allergy disclaimers before eating there

MORE: Parents’ desperate plea to Just Eat over allergy death of daughter, 15

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