A little rant about crappy labelling

This morning I was meant to be working on part two of my

children with food allergies

posts, but instead I got distracted by my own grumpy mood (it’s week two of having a nasty coughy/snotty virus and I’m feeling LOUSY).

Being already in a grump, I figured it was a good time to get a rant off my chest that has been a bugbear of mine for some time now … crappy food labelling.

Everybody with food allergies has experienced this one …

You’re in a cafe or restaurant that you haven’t been to before, and you see that there’s food labelled allergy-free (e.g. gluten-free, dairy-free) on the menu. Oh my god you’re so excited! 

“Holy crap, look they’ve got [hot chips, a delicious slice, something yummy] that’s [insert allergy-free option]! But just to be sure, I’ll double check with the waiter”.

<waiter approaches>

You: “Hi, I was just wondering, are your gluten-free chips cooked in a separate vat to your gluten-containing foods?”

Waiter “No they’re not.”

You: “So they’re not gluten-free then (even though they’re labelled gluten-free on the menu)”

Waiter “Well technically they’re gluten-free.”


<raging on the inside, but trying to be polite>

“Actually, technically they’re not gluten-free.”


Thank god you thought to check, because otherwise you would have been violently ill.

I’ve had this same experience in varying forms many, many times over the years at different cafes and restaurants. I’ve even had a chef argue with me that her oat slice was gluten-free – yes, you did read that right, and no they weren’t gluten-free oats.

I don’t mind if you can’t offer allergy-free food (although it would be nice), but please, for the love of all that is holy, don’t label something allergy-free, unless it is allergy-free. 

Why? Because you’ll make people sick. And the sickness isn’t something that you get over in a day, or even a week – some people take months to recover.

Thank you to all the fantastic places locally that are doing allergy-free food right. I really appreciate your work. 

And if you’re a cafe or restaurant owner who wants to do allergy-free right, here are a couple of links that may be of help:

Food Industry Overview of Coeliac Disease

Serving a Safe Meal

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