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Move Over Black & Orange – Teal Is In for Halloween!

Halloween is just around the corner – but there’s no reason to be scared!

The Teal Pumpkin Project is in full swing again this year, promoting the inclusion of all trick-or-treaters and making Halloween safe for children with food allergies. Did you know there are nearly six million children in the United States with food allergies? Young children are affected the most, according to Food Allergy Research & Education organization. Many children consider Halloween their favorite holiday, but those with food allergies can feel left out of the fun. Thanks to the Teal Pumpkin Project, however, all children can participate in the holiday.

If you want to take part in the fun, you only need to do two things: display a teal-colored pumpkin at your door and offer allergy-friendly treats. Not sure what to pass out to trick-or-treaters? We suggest non-food items like bubbles, crayons, stickers, small toys, bracelets, and other child-safe and allergy-free alternatives. Once you’ve picked out your goodies and have your teal pumpkin ready, you can add your home to the FARE map to help parents and trick-or-treaters find you.

Don’t have time to paint your own pumpkin? The FARE website has a variety of free resources available, including printable flyers and signs that you can display instead of a pumpkin. (FARE also offers fun at-home activities you can do with your children, such as coloring sheets and pumpkin stencils.)

Are you planning to participate in the Teal Pumpkin Project this year? Send us a photo of your pumpkin or the goodies you’ll be handing out! We’d love to see your creativity on display.

Hudson Allergy is happy to participate in the Teal Pumpkin Project again this year. Check out our pictures below!


Excited For New Year’s Eve? If You Have Food Allergies, Proceed with Caution If You’re Aiming for an Unexpected Kiss

Living with allergies, particularly food allergies, can be complicated, but with some advanced preparation and tips, you can enjoy a cheerful New Year’s celebration and kick the new year off right.

Here are some of our tips for your New Year’s Eve party:

Be careful when you kiss.
Ringing in the new year with a kiss is perhaps the best known New Year’s Eve tradition. But did you know it could have some nasty consequences for someone with food allergies? Unfortunately, there have been recent stories of people with food allergies having serious anaphylactic reactions after kissing someone with trace amounts of an allergen on their lips. So, before you pucker up, make sure the person you’re going to kiss hasn’t eaten anything that could give you an allergic reaction, such as peanuts or tree nuts. It’s important to know your allergy and communicate with your partner.

Talk to your host beforehand.
The best line of defense for any person with allergies is to know what situation you’ll be walking into. If you’re not hosting the big New Year’s bash this year you’ll want to get in touch with your host ASAP. Talk with the host about your allergies and get the need-to-know details about the event location and the menu. If you contact your host with enough advanced notice they will likely be able to get some recommendations for allergy-friendly dishes and take extra precautions when preparing food. You can also offer to bring along your own allergy-safe food, snacks, or drinks to the party. For example, if you have a gluten intolerance you may want to bring your own gluten-free beer. (Here are some of our favorites.)

Also, if you have cat or dog allergies and the party will be taking place in the host’s home, you can ask about pets in advance and set a reminder on your phone to take an antihistamine before you head to the party.

Make an action plan.
Don’t wait until the big night to think about your allergies. Take some time during the days leading up to New Year’s Eve to put together an action plan to deal with the worst-case scenario. Make sure to bring along the essential items you might need during an emergency, such as an EpiPen or your inhaler. You should also educate at least one other guest at the party on how to administer your medication if you are unable to do so yourself and be sure they know to call 911 after administering emergency medication. Remember, it’s better to have a plan in place and not need it versus not having a plan and regretting it. 

Watch for the signs of an alcohol intolerance.
Most people enjoy a few drinks on New Year’s Eve. Have you ever experienced flushed skin, nasal congestion, or hives after consuming an alcoholic drink? Or, have you ever experienced sickness after just one or two drinks? If so, you might have an alcohol intolerance. Most allergic reactions to alcohol are due to other ingredients (such as preservatives, grains, or yeast), not the alcohol itself. The most common symptoms of an alcohol intolerance include hives, redness, headache, nausea, runny nose, nasal congestion, vomiting, and the worsening of a pre-existing asthma condition. If you think you might have an alcohol intolerance, make an appointment with an allergist and skip the booze on New Year’s Eve.

Do you have a New Year’s resolution?

A new year can mean a fresh start for managing your allergies and improving your overall health. It can be a wonderful time of year, but New Year’s Eve can also be stressful for those trying to manage allergies. These tips can help you start the year off right.

If you have any questions about managing your allergies in the new year, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We are here to help! Feel free to give us a call at 212-729-1283 or email us at

How to Manage Your Food Allergies on Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is traditionally seen as a time to gather with family and friends to reflect on what they have been thankful for during the previous year, such as good health, a rewarding career, or the opportunity to spend time with loved ones.

One thing 15 million Americans aren’t thankful for is food allergies.

Unfortunately, food allergies have been on the rise in recent years and there is no clear answer as to why. As the incidence rate continues to rise, more and more American families will be navigating the sometimes complicated world of food allergies and will be on the hunt for ways to make family events and holidays like Thanksgiving safer for their loved ones.

At Hudson Allergy we understand that managing food allergies can take an emotional toll on families, particularly due to stress brought on by a new diagnosis. That’s why we worked to put together a list of tips for safely celebrating Thanksgiving with food allergies and alleviate some of that stress.

Here are a few of our tips for enjoying a safe, allergy-friendly Thanksgiving:

Have an action plan – and an emergency plan.
Take time in the days leading up to Thanksgiving to create an “action plan” for the holiday to ensure that safety is always top-of-mind. If possible, offer to host the dinner; this way you’ll know exactly what was prepared in the kitchen, how it was done, and what ingredients went into the food. If you’re not able to host Thanksgiving dinner, ask the host if it would be possible for you to arrive early to help them prepare the meal. If you are in the kitchen on the day of you’ll have a better idea of what dishes are off-limits.

You should also have an emergency plan in place in case the worst-case scenario were to happen. Make sure you have medications on hand (including emergency medicines like an EpiPen) and educate another responsible person on how to administer your medication if necessary. You should also educate them on the signs of an allergic reaction (swelling, hives, dizziness, wheezing, vomiting, abdominal cramps, and loss of consciousness) and be sure they know to call 911 after administering your emergency education.

Read ingredient labels.
Food labels are an important source of information for people with food allergies. If there is a store-bought item on the table, make sure you check the ingredient label before digging in. For safety, “may contain” on ingredient labels should be read as “likely contains.” If there is no label or it has been discarded, don’t risk it.

Be mindful of hidden allergens.
While every family has its tried and true recipes, some home cooks like to try something new on the holidays, and unfortunately this creativity could be a problem for people with allergies. For example, the new salad dressing recipe that Aunt Susan whipped up this year could contain fish, or Uncle Joe might have decided to add peanuts to the dessert he brought. When it comes to homemade dishes and desserts, ask if you can see the recipe or ask about the ingredients. If you’re not sure about a dish, leave it off your plate.

Also, keep in mind that hidden allergens don’t just lurk in homemade foods. There might even be allergens in the turkey due to certain seasonings, basting broth, or additives in the stuffing.

Bring food with you.
If you’re worried that you won’t be able to eat anything prepared at your host’s home or are concerned about cross-contamination of utensils and tableware, play it safe and bring your own plate of food with you. If this makes you feel uncomfortable, ease your anxiety by reaching out to your host ahead of time and letting them know about your allergies. You can tell them in advance that you plan to bring your own meal, and spin it as a positive – it’s one less person they’ll have to buy food for!

Stay mindful if you have to travel.
Managing your food allergies isn’t just limited to home. If you need to travel to get home for Thanksgiving, you should take a moment to think about all the places you may encounter an allergen on your trip and consider how you’ll manage your allergy. If you have a peanut allergy, for example, you can request a peanut-free flight. If you’ll be dealing with any travel or hospitality staff, such as flight attendants or hotel employees, make sure you let them know about your allergy.

While having a food allergy may prevent you from gobbling down everything on the table, it is still very possible to have a safe and happy Thanksgiving without missing out on the fun.

If you have any questions about managing your food allergies on Thanksgiving don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We are here to help! Feel free to give us a call at 212-729-1283 or email us at

Don’t Be Scared: 6 Tips for Celebrating Halloween with Allergies

It’s that time of year again: Americans all over the country are settling into fall. For many, this means sipping on a pumpkin spice latte while Googling unique patterns to carve into pumpkins and deciding where to hang fake spider webs.

For American children it means picking out a costume and practicing telling neighbors to smell their feet and give them something good to eat. Unfortunately, the “give me something good to eat” part can present a problem for the 1 in every 13 children with food allergies.

You may be worrying about how to handle Halloween if your child has food allergies or sensitivities, but rest assured that there are ways to celebrate this wickedly fun holiday safely and without triggering an allergic reaction. Here are our six tips for celebrating Halloween with allergies:

Be careful with costume makeup.
Many costumes include an element of makeup, such as painting your child’s face a solid color or painting on fake scars or wounds. Remember to be cautious when using Halloween makeup, as it may cause an allergic reaction. Be sure you are using high-quality makeup and do a test of the makeup on a small patch of skin a few days before Halloween to see if a reaction is triggered.

Be prepared.
Before leaving the house on Halloween, do a quick check to make sure you are bringing along all essential items your child needs for their allergies or asthma, such as inhalers, medications, or an EpiPen. Also be sure that another responsible person has been educated on the use of your child’s EpiPen and knows what to do in case of an emergency.

Teach children how to read ingredient labels.
It’s critical that your child understands which foods and ingredients are off-limits to them before they go trick-or-treating or attend a party. Food labels are a key source of information for those with food allergies, particularly with regard to hidden allergens, so it’s important to teach your children how to properly read them and recognize hidden allergens. For safety, children should be taught that “may contain” on ingredient labels should be read as “likely contains.”

Find an alternative to trick-or-treating.
You may decide that it’s best to skip trick-or-treating altogether. If you make this decision, there are plenty of other non-food related activities that you can do with your child to stay in the spirit of Halloween, such as a scary movie marathon, visiting a haunted house, or carving pumpkins. If you do decide to go trick-or-treating…

Look for teal pumpkins.
The Food Allergy Research & Education organization hopes people “go teal” for Halloween. FARE’s Teal Pumpkin Project promotes an allergy-friendly Halloween by encouraging people to offer non-food treats to trick-or-treaters, such as crayons, small toys, stickers, bubbles, and other items. Anyone participating in the Teal Pumpkin Project will be displaying either a teal pumpkin or a sign noting that they are participating. For the nearly 6 million children in the US with food allergies, the Teal Pumpkin Project is a wonderful initiative that allows them to join in on the holiday fun.

Swap candy for other treats.
When you and your child return home from trick or treating, sit down and sort through the candy they have collected. You can read ingredient labels together and remove anything that could cause an allergic reaction. Depending on your child’s allergy there may not be much left that they are able to eat (or perhaps anything at all). Plan ahead for this possibility and buy allergy-safe treats in advance. On Halloween night you can swap the candy that your child has collected for the allergy-safe toys and treats.

It’s easy to see why nearly two-thirds of American children say that Halloween is their favorite holiday. Thankfully it is still possible for children with allergies to enjoy the holiday safely – it just requires a little preparation.

If you believe you have food allergies or have questions about resources available to people with allergies, give us a call. Or, if you are looking for an allergist, we’d love to meet you. We can be reached at 212-729-1283 or send us an email at

Sweet Treats: Allergy-Friendly Valentine’s Day Candy

As allergy awareness has spread in recent years so has the availability of allergy-friendly candies and sweet treats for Valentine’s Day. Whether you’ve had your gifts picked out and purchased for weeks or need to stop by the store for last minute gifts, you’re sure to find something for your Valentine.

Here are a few allergy-friendly sweets & treats to give your sweetheart this Valentine’s Day. You’ll find candies that are free from gluten, peanuts, dairy, egg, and tree nuts.

(Remember to always carefully read product labels and ingredient lists before purchasing or consuming any candy.)


The Vermont Nut Free Chocolate Company was founded by a mother of a little boy with a peanut allergy. The company prides itself on the fact that its entire selection of candy is safe for those with peanut and tree nut allergies. (Some products may contain dairy, soy or eggs.) You can purchase a variety of Valentine’s Day themed products from the Vermont Nut Free Chocolate Company, including a heart-shaped box of chocolate truffles and a Valentine’s Day Gift Box.


Gimbal’s Fine Candies has a spicy treat for all allergy sufferers. Their Cinnamon Lovers heart candies are free of the top eight allergens and are also gluten-free and gelatin-free. They are available across the United States in major grocery stores.


Divvies makes their candies in small batches in a dedicated peanut, tree nut, egg, and dairy free bakery. If you want to share a sweet treat with your Valentine, a candy from Divvies could be just the ticket – their name comes from “divvying up” treats (one-for-me-and-one-for-you) and they offer heart-shaped chocolates.


Premium Chocolatiers create gourmet chocolates that are dairy, nut, gluten and egg free. They offer a range of Valentine’s Day chocolates, including traditional heart-shaped boxes of chocolate along with chocolate lollipop hearts and boxes of truffles.

If you have questions about resources available to people with food allergies, give us a call. Or, if you are looking for an allergist, we’d love to meet you. We can be reached at 212-729-1283 or send us an email at

Thanksgiving food allergies

How to Safely Celebrate Thanksgiving with Food Allergies

Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and most Americans have visions of pumpkin pies and mashed potatoes dancing in their heads. For those with food allergies and sensitivities, however, Thanksgiving can pose some challenges. According to FARE (Food Allergy Research and Education), there are an estimated 15 million Americans with food allergies, and many of them will be trying to navigate the dinner table this Thursday.

Many Thanksgiving staples contain at least one of the “big 8” allergens – milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat and soy. Even the turkey might contain allergens due to seasonings, basting broth, or additives in the stuffing. Despite this, it’s still possible for those with food allergies to have a safe and happy Thanksgiving.

One of the most important things anyone with food allergies can do on Thanksgiving (or any day) is to be honest about having a food allergy. On days such as Thanksgiving when food preparation is out of your control, you want to be able to feel confident that the food you are eating is safe for you. If you are open about your food allergy, it will be easier for your host to prepare foods safely and avoid cross-contamination.

It’s also important to read labels on any store-bought desserts and other food items that someone else may have brought to dinner. We encourage you to relax and enjoy your holiday, but always be aware of the food you are eating.

When in doubt, consider making some dishes on your own and bringing them to dinner. Here are a few allergy-friendly recipes we recommend*:

Vegetarian Butternut Squash Casserole
Gluten-Free Parsnip, Pork & Apple Stuffing
Vegan Green Bean Casserole
Vegan, Gluten-Free Baked Mac and Cheese
Gluten- and Egg-Free Mini Chicken Pot Pies

(*Remember to read these recipes carefully to ensure all of the ingredients are safe for your particular allergies. Everyone is different.)

Make sure you have a plan in place for the accidental consumption of an allergen. The symptoms of food allergies include swelling, hives, dizziness, wheezing, vomiting, abdominal cramps, and loss of consciousness. Keep your EpiPen on hand and make sure at least one person knows how to use it and will call 911 if you have a food allergy reaction.

While Thanksgiving with food allergies may take a little more work and preparation, you can still have a wonderful holiday.

We previously created an infographic detailing five of the eight major food allergens and identified the popular Thanksgiving dishes in which they might be present. Click here to view the infographic.

Have a happy and safe Thanksgiving!

If you have any questions about food allergies don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We are here to help! Feel free to give us a call at 212-729-1283 or email us at

Our Fall Reading List for Allergy Sufferers

The Allergy Fighting Garden Fall Reading List

Now that fall is here and peak allergy season is upon us, it’s the perfect time to get away from all that pollen and cozy up indoors with a good read.

We know how tough it can be to find helpful books on allergies that aren’t packed with medical jargon or complicated tips, so we asked the experts, Dr. Julie Kuriakose and Dr. Tim Mainardi, and put together our list of top 5 books for allergy sufferers that are worth the read.

Check out our list below and let us know what’s on your reading list for fall.

1. The Allergy-Fighting Garden: Stop Asthma and Allergies with Smart Landscaping

Author Thomas Leo Orgen is a horticulturist, seasoned allergy researcher, and all around gardening expert. In this book he carefully explains how different types of plants tend to aggravate certain allergies. One of the most valuable assets in the book is his explanation of the OPALS scale, which rates all plants from 1 -10 based on their likelihood to cause an allergic reaction. This book is perfect for someone who suffers from seasonal allergies and wants a little more insight as to how your environment can effect your symptoms.

2. Cosmetics Unmasked: Your Family Guide to Safe Cosmetics and Allergy-Free Toiletries

If you suffer from cosmetic allergies or eczema, you might want to pick this book up. Written by a former chemistry researcher, this pick gives real insight into what ingredients, like synthetics and parabens, could be harmful to your skin and why. It also lists out specific ingredients to be wary of when shopping for new beauty products and how to spot them.

3. Allergic Girl: Adventures In Living Well With Food Allergies 

This book is great for anyone struggling with the daily problems that occur as a result of having food allergies. Author Sloan Miller has dealt with food allergies since she was a young child and is a great authority to dish out helpful strategies for things that food allergy sufferers might find difficult like: how to create healthy relationships with friends, family, and food, and how to create a safe environment wherever you are.

4. The G-Free Diet: A Gluten-Free Survival Guide

Gluten allergies have become more of a hot topic over the years and this book still remains one of our favorites for those newly diagnosed, or just looking to learn a little more information about this particular allergy. This book offers up author Elizabeth Hassleback’s interesting history with celiac disease while also managing to break down the medical side of this conversation into digestible tid-bits.

5. The Allergy-Free Pantry: Make Your Own Staples, Snacks, and More Without Wheat, Gluten, Dairy, Eggs, Soy or Nuts

This pick is part cook book, part instruction manual that is perfect for anyone with an allergy sufferer in their house. Author Colette Martin details delicious recipes with careful hints like what to add when for the best tasting, allergy friendly, muffins, butters, spreads, and more. The recipes focus on everyday basics that even the novice chef can take on to help expand your allergy free menu options and learn how to be healthier in your everyday choices.

If you or someone you know is suffering from allergies, stop bye our office to get tested. We can help you create a plan to manage your allergy symptoms and live a healthier, happier life.

We’re experts who care, on your schedule, around the corner. Just walk in.


National Donut Day 2015 in NYC : Our Top 5 Picks for #FoodAllergies

National Donut Day

There are few things in this world more exciting than a full day dedicated to one of our favorite treats – the donut. But we know how hard it can be to get excited about a holiday that revolves around food when it feels like you are allergic to everything. Food allergies are a serious challenge for any diehard foodie, but in a city like New York, there are plenty of options that will satisfy your sugary cravings and let you join in on the celebration. We’ve scoured the city for our favorite allergen friendly bakeries to prove that you can have your cake and eat it too – even if you have allergies. Here our picks for National Donut Day 2015 in NYC.

Grab your coffee and get ready to dunk:


1. Erin McKenna’s Bakery: BabyCakes NYC

(gluten free, dairy free, egg free, soy sensitivities)

We love Babycakes for it’s sweet attitude and even sweeter confections. This bakery tops our list because it has everyone covered. Everything the shop serves is gluten free and vegan and many items are also completely soy-free and organic. Walk on over and enjoy!


 2. Baked by Butterfield

(gluten free, vegan)

This bakeshop specializes in the healthier cousin of the fried donut by baking all of their sweet treats to save everyone a few calories, while still making sure not to sacrifice decadence for these delightful treats. Butterfield has a few gluten free and vegan donuts available each day, so it’s the perfect place to drag your food snob friend who rolls their eyes every time you tell them you can’t eat anything on the menu. With flavors like triple chocolate and salted caramel, we guarantee you’ll forget why people love fried donuts anyway – even if just for a second.


 3. Cinnamon Snail

 (gluten free, vegan, raw )

The Cinnamon Snail is an experience all it’s own. They serve up a wide variety of food from their red truck including tofu subs, Portobello capriccio, even blue corn pancakes, but the star of the show is their awe-inducing donuts. These little guys are made fresh everyday so, while you can never be too sure what they’ll have left when it’s your turn to order, you can be sure that whatever it is will be one of the best pastries you’ve ever tasted. Some of their desserts are gluten free and there are also raw options as well for those that are a little more health conscious than the average dinner. You can even pre-order a box of their deserts for your next fiesta – just don’t forget to invite us!

4. Dun-Well Donuts

(vegan )

Walk into Dun-well donuts and you’ll feel like you’ve been transported back in time to an old fashioned soda shop meets coffee shop that somehow is still hip enough to know and care about your allergies. Surprisingly, it was an episode of the Simpsons that sent Dun-Well’s two co-owners on a failed treasure hunt around the city to find a good vegan donut. With no luck, they decided to create a place of their own that focused on delicious treats, good coffee, and even ice cream. Make sure your phone is fully charged before you hit up this hot spot – this place is sure to inspire your next best Instagram!

 5. Donut Plant

 (Egg free)

Donut Plant is a classic New York staple that has been around since the 80s. What’s more is that the recipes used for these melt in your mouth morsels were passed down through generations of the Israel family, dating back to the early 1900s when the current owner’s grandfather started working at his first bakery.

All of the Plant’s donuts are made with all natural ingredients, using organic when possible, and all donuts are egg free. If that doesn’t give you enough reason to stop bye, consider going for their one –of-a-kind square donut with homemade filling in each bite. They even delivery almost everywhere in the city – now this calls for celebration, glad it’s National Donut Day!

 What’s your favorite allergy friendly bakery or restaurant in the city? Let us know below and don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and Twitter for daily updates and helpful tips to make New York City a fun place for food allergy sufferers!

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Valentine’s Day Allergies: How to safely celebrate Valentines Day if you or your sweetheart has allergies

Valentine’s Day is fast approaching and millions of people are making plans and buying gifts to show their partner how much they care. But what if you or your partner has allergies? Is it still possible to have a fun and romantic Valentine’s Day? Thankfully the answer is yes!

Valentine's Day allergies

There are many different types of allergies and unfortunately some can be life-threatening. On occasions like Valentine’s Day food allergies can be tricky to navigate, as many commercially produced foods and candies contain allergens and some restaurant workers may be overwhelmed with an increased amount of diners. (If you’re a restaurant owner or employee and would like more information on safely serving customers with food allergies we offer a Restaurant Food Safety Course.)

You or your partner may feel anxious about the presence of allergens, but it is very possible to minimize risks and have a safe Valentine’s Day. Just be mindful of the following:

  • Food allergies
  • Mold and Dust allergies
  • Metal Allergies

Here are some tips for having an allergy-friendly Valentine’s Day keeping these three allergies in mind:

Don’t be afraid to ask, “What’s in this?” – Food allergies
The eight most common allergens are peanuts, milk, eggs, tree nuts, shellfish, soy, fish, and wheat. Many commonly served foods on Valentine’s Day, such as chocolates or desserts, can contain these ingredients. Carefully read ingredient labels to ensure that the product you’re buying is allergen-free. Also be aware of cross contamination or mix-ups. For example, it might be too risky to give a nut-allergic person a heart-shaped box of mixed chocolates as some of the chocolates could contain nuts while others don’t. Err on the side of caution.

If you’re unsure if a restaurant will cater to allergic individuals or you’re not sure what’s in the candy or dessert you were planning to buy, your best bet is to make something yourself or with your partner at home.

Consider an alternative to flowers or teddy bears. – Mold and Dust Allergies
A rose by any other name… might irritate your beloved’s allergies. Not because of the pollen associated with the flower, but rather the mold and the scents of flowers could cause a nasal reaction (coughing, sneezing, puffy or watery eyes, etc.). An interesting fact is that the pollen from flowers is actually too big to trigger an allergic reaction. Who would have thought?

Another gift to be wary of during Valentine’s Day are teddy bears or other stuffed animals. While from the outside, these harmless stuffed animals are cute and cuddly, they are also known carries of dust mites, a major trigger for people with dust allergies.

You may want to forego gifts of flowers and teddy bears in favor of more allergy-friendly gifts, such as a thoughtful letter, card, or an “experience” gift such as tickets to an event or museum.

Rethink the necklace. – Metal allergies
Valentine’s Day is popular for giving jewelry to the one you love, but before making a potentially pricey purchase double check that they aren’t allergic to any metals or other materials that are used in jewelry. For example, nickel is a common skin-irritating allergen that is often used to make jewelry (and is even found in some gold jewelry).

Remember that the point of Valentine’s Day is to show the one you love that you care for and support them. If you are celebrating Valentine’s Day with allergies, being careful and considerate will be appreciated.

If you have any questions about allergies don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We are here to help! Feel free to give us a call at 212-729-1283 or email us at

Food Allergies In Restaurants – Allergy Eats Conference Recap

As food allergies become more prevalent in society, restaurants in particular are needing to take notice. That is the mission of Allergy Eats, an online guide to the best places to eat in the USA, for those who suffer from food allergies.

On October 21, 2014 Allergy Eats hosted its third annual Conference for Restaurants and Food Service Professionals, aimed at teaching attendees “How to Maximize Safety and Increase Customer Engagement, Loyalty, and Revenue.”

Christopher Hickey, the Regional Director of the New York State Restaurant Association, summed it up nicely as he opened the conference, “Dining out is about the experience even more than the food… restaurants should be able to provide a quick and easy alternative to customers who have a food allergy.”

Hickey, was just one of many A+ speakers at the event, which covered a gambit of topics each addressing how restaurants are, or should be, considering food allergies in their operations.

Speakers ranged from medical experts, to restaurant operators, to parents who consider their families food allergies every time they want to eat out.

Our very own Dr. Julie Kuriakose participated on a panel and discussed how restaurants can introduce food allergy protocols and become more accommodating, improve safety and minimize risk. Check out this video to see Dr. Kuriakose presentation at the Conference.

Many restaurateurs and foodservice professionals were in attendance, not only to learn but also to teach. Robin Hamm, the Director of Food Safety, Quality and Commercialization at Red Robin, schooled the audience on what that full service restaurant chain has done to cater to food allergy patients across all of their national locations. In addition to completely eliminating peanuts from their kitchen, Red Robin has created an interactive customizable allergy menu that allows customers to input what they are allergic to and have the menu suggest options.

Also in attendance was Chef Matt Abdoo, Chef de Cuisine at Del Posto, one of New York City’s most delicious Michelin star restaurants. The staff at Del Posto puts customer satisfaction above all else, and Chef Matt talked about how one of the city’s most prestigious restaurants caters to its diners every needs. When a customer has a dietary restriction, especially a food allergy, it is their protocol to have a manager deliver the plate of food, and acknowledge the guests special request. They also pride themselves on their immaculately clean kitchen, and they have an internal method to identify which plates are for those with the allergy request. Additionally, they have a killer gluten free pasta, that people with gluten intolerances and those who do not, enjoy and order on the regular.

Other highlights included a tear jerking speech from Lisa Giuriceo, the Support Group Leader of the Food Allergy and Asthma Support Group of North Jersey. Lisa’s daughter has suffered from severe food allergies since birth. Lisa and her family are the quintessential beneficiaries of Allergy Eats, and their family is the perfect example of how a family with food allergies can become loyal customers to restaurants who cater to a food allergic patrons’ needs. When her daughter was young, Lisa realized that Disney World is very food allergy friendly, and their family has been taking annual family trips there for 10+ years. She also is a loyal customer of Legal Sea Foods, who does a great job of catering to allergy sensitive patrons.

Allergy Eats Founder and CEO, Paul Antico, is also the parent of children with Allergies. It was his struggle to find restaurants that could cater to his children specific needs that eventually lead him to create Allergy Eats. Paul is wicked smart with a background in finance and business analysis, an he helped point out the economics benefits behind being an allergy friendly restaurant. Families with food allergies tend to become incredibly loyal customers once they feel comfortable eating at a restaurant. Thus if a restaurant does this right, there is a lot of upside.

This was an amazing conference and it was excellent to meet other who are contributing to the mitigation of food allergy reactions in a restaurant setting. At the end of the day, food is at the center of all cultures, and dinning out is a privilege that everyone should enjoy, even those with food allergies.