Skip to main content

Can You Bring Outside Food to Restaurants If You Have a Food Allergy?

 

People with food allergies can have a hard time eating at restaurants. Sometimes, you can’t avoid a restaurant where it’s difficult to order a safe meal. Some examples may include:

  • Traveling
  • Attending a business event
  • Bringing your young child with food allergies to family parties

What’s a person with food allergies to do? This topic came up in December 2015, when Kids With Food Allergies hosted a webinar, Current Topics in Food Allergy Law. Our guests were the three attorneys from the Allergy Law Project: Laurel Francoeur, Esq., Mary Vargas, Esq., and Homa Woodrum, Esq.


They later answered a follow-up question for us about restaurant accommodations for food allergies.


Recently, on their blog, they answered a related question: can a person with allergies bring outside food into a restaurant if a safe meal is not available? Unfortunately, there is not a lot of legal guidance on this specific issue.

In their post, “A Seat at the Table – Bringing Allergy Friendly Food to Restaurants,” they write that most restaurants are places of public accommodation, subject to the Americans with Disabilities Act.


This means that restaurants may have to change so people with disabilities have equal access. In most cases, this means that the restaurant will most likely have to allow a customer with a food allergy to bring in their own food.

Other places where this could also apply include:

  • Indoor party places for children
  • Theme parks or water parks
  • Sports facilities, such as ballparks or indoor sports arenas

The restaurant or place of business may complain if they can show legitimate safety concerns. But those concerns must be considered with the customer's right for access and inclusion heavily weighted.


See the Allergy Law blog for more detail about this issue.

For a list of allergy-friendly restaurant chains, check out the 2016 list from AllergyEats. AllergyEats collects diner feedback to create their annual list.

Add Comment

Comments (1)

Newest · Oldest · Popular

My son is 9.  We don't eat at restaurants very often.  We have found the very few that he seems to do well with.  One being our local Mexican restaurant.  Fast food restaurants are pretty much out of the question.  The Mexican place(s) is very accommodating to him so far as making his food without the tortilla or shell. 

(He always orders taco w/o shell - he is allergic to corn/hard shell, wheat/soft shell)

Since he is allergic to corn, that leaves their chips out too.  They have always been very accommodating with that also. I simply let them know that he can tolerate organic corn but not conventionally grown corn and until their chips are organic and gluten free, we'll bring our own. 

We have received our share of funny looks when we brought in safe food for him....Usually I can explain that he has severe food allergies and they understand and comply with our needs.  it always opens up a chance for me to educate people about food allergies!- which we welcome!

We were only told once that we could not bring in outside food.  I asked for the manager, and the manager agreed that he would rather me feed him safely than lay liability on him because he could not guarantee no cross contamination. 

If an establishment told me that I "COULD NOT" - I WOULD NOT choose to spend my money there. I would simply leave and give my money to another. 
If I were a restaurant owner, I would certainly welcome it as opposed to taking a risk on killing someone - that's not very good for your ratings....lol 

Post
Kids With Food Allergies
A Division of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America
1235 South Clark Street Suite 305, Arlington, VA 22202
Phone: 1-800-7-ASTHMA (1.800.727.8462)
-->
×
×
×
×
Link copied to your clipboard.
×