I was at a gastroenterology conference recently (ESPGHAN). The information was excellent. However, there was anonymous food at conference tables.
Although the food was excellent, I was disappointed about the lack of any food descriptions. I could not eat it as there was no way to know what was in it.
Anonymous food at conference
The food was anonymous. Anonymous food at conference means: no labels, no description, no allergen declarations.
At a GI/food allergy/nutrition conference, I would have thought that people on special diets would be catered for. This is an opportunity to be a greg role model for everyone, including the catering and wait-staff.
For example, I am Gluten Free. However, morning & afternoon snacks had no GF option. Boxed breakfasts were handed out – but no GF option. Lunch boxes were available – however, the GF option was hard to track down (no information was given about how to get this food!).
There was no indication about dairy/eggs/nuts in any of the food. It was definitely not a food-allergy friendly conference. Very odd. This lack of food action does not give a very good message – we should be taking food allergy/intolerance seriously, at every venue.
I say: less talking and more doing.
This unfortunately is a common problem in many venues. Many hotels with a buffet breakfast, lunch or dinner have inadequate labelling on their foods. No wonder many people with food allergies and intolerances stay away from these places. We cannot feel safe eating food that we have no idea of the ingredients.
The Food Allergy , Gluten Intolerance and Celiac Support organizations are doing a lot to educate the food hospitality industry about this.
If we are not given food allergen warnings/ advisories, then it is likely that there will be substantial cross-contamination in the food preparation areas.
Having said all of this, some hotels are now making concerted efforts to plate up safe foods.
However, I often hear about chefs who get annoyed about GF people, and wait staff who ask “Are you celiac or just gluten intolerant” – thinking that they don’t have to take care of people who are “just gluten intolerant”!
It might take another generation before we see the changes we are looking for.