ConsumerTalk with Wendy Knowler

Restaurants can be held liable if they don't disclose food allergens on menus

Dining out can be a difficult experience for people with food allergies.

Allergy rates are on the rise throughout the world, and restaurants must do better to properly prepare allergen-free meals.

Read more: Reaserch reveals rise in food allergies in SA

Last week, actress and broadcaster Relebogile Mabotja was rushed to hospital after she had a salad dressing at a Col'Cacchio restaurant which contained nuts.

In a Twitter thread, Mabotja explains that she repeatedly asked the restaurant staff and chef about the ingredients in her meal.

Read: CT mom starts company to help kids with food allergies, makes medical wristbands

Col’Cacchio Holdings co-founder Kinga Baranowska says the dressing was not listed in the menu description out of intellectual property concerns.

Baranowska has committed to rectifying the omission and providing allergy training to staff at all 37 franchised stores countrywide.

Consumer journo Wendy Knowler says this case has raised many lessons for both patrons and restaurant managers.

Allergen specialist Dr Harris Steinman says managers have an ethical and moral responsibility to be transparent on menus.

Dr Steinman says the common allergens recognised by law include milk, eggs, fish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat and soybeans.

These have to be labelled on products, according to legislation.

Read more: Freedom Bakery faces heat over food fraud allegations

When patrons ask about specific allergens, staff are required to disclose the ingredients in order to avoid any health risks such as anaphylactic shock.

The Consumer Protection Act can guarantee you will be in serious trouble if something goes wrong and you put your head in the sand.

Dr Harris Steinman, owner of FACTS (Food and Allergy and Consulting Services laboratory)

Dr Steinman insists that restaurant chefs and service staff should be trained on food allergies.

Take a listen to the discussion during the Consumer Talk feature:

Got a consumer case you need help resolving?

Email: consumer@knowler.co.za, put Cape Talk in the subject line, followed by the issue e.g. cellphone contract dispute.


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