Let's just put it this way: I don't want to die because someone forgot to put on a label that there was non-fat dry milk in the chicken noodle soup.
For people who don't live with food allergies, eating is a "what do I want" habit, versus the food allergy sufferer's, "what is here that won't kill me" habit. Now that I am almost twenty, going grocery shopping isn't a problem. I'm a big girl who can read labels, and with the new handy dandy FDA law passed a few years back, the major allergies need to be specifically mentioned below the normal ingredients list. But going to restaurants, eating food made by someone else at a friend's house, or heaven forbid eating on my college campus? Those situations can be downright bitchy.
For instance, restaurants commonly don't have the ingredients list for a lot of their shipped in food, since the packaging, with the label on it gets thrown out. That means that the waiter/waitress, who I ask to check if there are certain deathly components of a specific meal, really can't be sure if they food they are going to serve me is going to fill me up with yummy-ness, or send me to the hospital in an ambulance. Another fun fact is a lot of people don't know what "dairy" truly is. My allergy, which doesn't let me eat anything derived from a cow (we are talking I can't have gelatin people, which is made up of ground cow and horse hooves and bones...THAT MEANS NO JELL-O) includes the normal things like...cheese, but a lot of people don't know that whey and sodium caseinate (casein) are ALSO total milk products that will make me very sick. It's not their fault, just makes restaurant eating harder for me.
The last problem I talked about with restaurants, people not being aware of certain ingredients, is a main problem I have eating with friends at their houses. People assume things are fine without checking labels, or if they do, not recognizing things on them. I have to be pesky and annoying, but a couple of times it has saved my butt.
Now onto my main issue, campus food. I go to college at a state school in Maine, that has quite a few nice dining areas. But there are two problems there are 1) the amount of food offered there that I would even begin to think that I could possibly have is ridiculously minimal and 2) there are not ingredient labels on anything that was made on campus AND when I ask an employee they "have no idea because it wasn't made here." Well honestly, do I give a shit where on campus it was made? That would be a no. For one there should be ingredient labels in the first place to prevent this kind of situation (remember that FDA law I mentioned?). Also, if you sell it to the student body, you should be able to tell them what is in the damn food. Maybe I am selfish for asking this, I don't know. But what I do know is that any student, faculty member or staff member at my school with food allergies is going to have an extremely tough time finding something they know is safe to eat. And that is just not right.
MILLIONS of people suffer from some kind of food allergy or intolerance. The victims of such conditions, people like me, should not be forced to always have to be on the defensive, especially when solutions are so simple! A little more effort could go a long way when it comes to this issue.