Why European Restaurants Are Much More Vigilant About Food Allergies

Dining out can be fraught with hidden perils for people with food allergies. European allergen disclosure laws have made restaurants highly aware of the issue. But U.S. rules lag.
An allergy-warning notice is displayed next to food in a branch of Pret A Manger in central London. Pret A Manger is working to have full ingredient labeling in all its British shops by the end of 2019. Source: Yui Mok - PA Images

During a visit to London last month, I was pretty excited to try the slow-cooked curries at Masala Zone. Almost as soon as I sat down, however, the manager told me he didn't want my business.

As is fairly routine in London restaurants, he asked if anyone at the table had any food allergies. As it happens, I'm allergic to peanuts. He explained that the Indian restaurant grinds peanuts into various sauces and can't guarantee that traces won't show up in any dish on the menu. He handed me a small card stating that it's Masala Zone's policy not to serve people with peanut allergies. "We do not operate in a surgical environment," the card states.

It's unusual – but not unique

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