With allergies effecting an all time high number of people, it's made dining out challenging for not only guests suffering from allergies, but for those serving food as well.

According to The Berkshire Eagle, a New York City woman has filed a federal lawsuit against the owners of Canyon Ranch Wellness Resort in Lenox, after she was served a veggie burger containing cashews, triggering a life threatening reaction which landed her in the hospital.

Kristin Chu Smart, claims that she notified numerous staff at the resort, including her server, she was highly allergic to nuts and was assured there were none in the food she was being served.  Before her stay at the resort, Smart responded to a health questionnaire provided by Canyon Ranch, in which she detailed her food allergies. About a month later she received an email from Canyon Ranch's food and menu development coordinator, acknowledging those allergies and telling her the ingredients in all of the food served were listed in a packet that she would receive when she arrived.

Smart details numerous other occasions when she spoke with multiple staff members about her allergies reiterating that she had to avoid all nut products due to a risk of anaphylaxis. According to Smart, the server referred to their own copy of the packet and assured her that no nuts were in the veggie burgers, which Smart ordered.  Just to be sure, Smart asked again when the food arrived if there were nuts present and was told there were not.

When Smart began to eat and noticed the symptoms of an allergic reaction, she again asked her server if there were nuts in her food and was again told no.  As her symptoms became worse, she ultimately ended up taking an ambulance to the hospital, all while her condition continued to worsen during the trip.  By the time she arrived at Berkshire Medical Center, her blood pressure had dropped to 88 over 39.  Smart was treated and was prescribed corticosteroids and an antihistamine.

Thankfully this situation ended in the best case scenario, but clearly it could have gone many other ways.

A occurrence like this is something that restaurant owners, and employees, worry about on a daily basis.  Cooking for and serving guests whose allergies can very in severity, and are often unfamiliar, a while relying on the good faith that products used in cooking are labeled property can be challenging. It is most certainly the responsibility of kitchen management to know what they are serving, but also imperative that there is proper communication between the guest and their server, as well as the server to the kitchen. Resorts and restaurants are tasked with a huge responsibility when serving patients with allergies, a responsibility that is placed on numerous people, and if just one of them doesn't fulfill that, the consequences can be deadly. Communication between the guest, their server, the kitchen staff and management is paramount and if there is any lapse in that communication this is the end result.

I guess after 15 years in the restaurant business I've realized as scary as it must be for a for someone or parent of someone who has severe allergies to dine out, it can also be quite nerve racking to be tasked with keeping that person safe.



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