This week a waiter in Canada has been charged after an allergic diner was served fish instead of steak; the customer was seriously allergic to fish and has alerted the waiter about this but sadly he had an anaphylactic attack and spent two days in a coma.

Why did this happen? How could this happen? How can you get fish and steak mixed up?

This kind of thing happens too often though and it’s the reason we must all check, check and check again.

It’s not something you only need to say once. Sorry about that everyone. You probably get fed up, especially waiters and waitresses who get asked again to check something is OK.

If you have allergies, life threatening allergies, you need to ask not just once, but twice and check again and again until you’re satisfied.

Alarm bells ring in my ears constantly. They have to.

But mistakes do happen. So I will continue to ask you not just once, but twice and maybe even a third time if I’m not sure. If you don’t respond sufficiently. If you roll your eyes or if you don’t write down my allergies I might even walk out.
Eat with your eyes!
But my biggest piece of advice to everyone with life threatening allergies is to eat with your eyes. And I mean REALLY look at your food. Is is steak? Is it fish?

For me, with a dairy and nut allergy, anything that looks in any way creamy or crumbs of anything are a cause for alarm and need checking.

But why should we have to do this? Why should we have to remain so vigilant? Why do we need to check and check and check for waiters to still take no notice?

Be warned waiters and waitresses, because it could save your bacon when a customer keeps checking.

I’ll bet both the waiter and the diner wish they had.

Because this week a Canadian waiter may be charged after diner’s allergic reaction

You’d think it was impossible to mistake fish with steak but that’s exactly what happened to this poor fish allergic diner in Canada. The waiter was arrested after the diner was rushed to hospital and spent two days in a coma.

So no, not just a snuffly nose or upset stomach. Your actions could be catastrophic for someone with allergy. PLEASE TAKE ALLERGIES VERY SERIOUSLY. Because they could be fatal.

So whose fault was it?

  • Was it the waiter who didn’t write down the order properly and failed to note the importance of a life threatening allergy?
  • Was a mistake made in the kitchen? Did the chef send out the wrong dish?
  • Was it the owner for not training staff sufficiently?
  • Was it the diner for not checking or noticing it was fish and not steak?

I have to hope that I would have noticed it was fish… and not steak if that was my meal. Don’t they look quite different? But nothing changes the fact that this waiter appears to have taken an order for a completely different food. Maybe his message about fish was so misconstrued, not as an allergy but actually a request. How wrong can you get? Maybe he didn’t even understand or try to help the diner.

Many people just don’t get it.

I was recently given frozen yogurt instead of dairy free sorbet which made me VERY ill, but thankfully no trip to A&E. These things can easily be mistaken for one another which is exactly what happened. The chef thought he was giving me a scoop of dairy free sorbet. I thought I was getting a scoop of dairy free sorbet. They both look exactly the same.

How do avoid things like this happening again?



An allergy and health writer and freelance copywriter, Ruth is passionate about helping those with allergies and food intolerances take control, embrace their condition, and learn to live with and love who they are. It can be very lonely finding you have allergies and discovering what helps you can be a life long journey. What works for one person won't work for another, so after trying nearly every allergy treatment under the sun and finding hours of research necessary to keep abreast of what's going on, Ruth started writing her blog, What Allergy? in April 2009. Ruth has life threatening allergies herself to all nuts, all diary, tomatoes and celery and knows first-hand what it's like to have an anaphylactic attack. Voted in the Top 5 UK allergy blogs by Cision UK in 2011, What Allergy is packed full of interesting articles, hints and tips and product reviews which are a must read for anyone with allergies, food intolerances or sensitivities, asthma and eczema. From subjects such as "What is celery allergy?" to "Surviving a holiday abroad with allergies", it's packed with useful and interesting information. You can register free for a weekly newsletter by visiting her website http://whatallergy.com/ and also keep in touch by following her on Facebook and Twitter.

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