McDonald's and Food Allergies: A Few Fast Food Tips

McDonald's Hamburgers and Dairy Allergy
I've mentioned in the past that McDonald's has become our go-to restaurant when we're traveling or otherwise on the go. We stopped there last week and I wanted to share our experience:

Us to cashier: "We'd like two hamburgers, but our son is very allergic to milk and eggs so please ask the person making the burgers to change their gloves and use clean utensils. Please make sure they don't touch anything like cheese while making the burgers."

Cashier: "Certainly"

Cashier turns toward food prep area.

"GRILL CREW," (all McDonald's employees in the vicinity stop what they are doing and turn to her- including the guy mopping the floor) "WE'VE GOT A FOOD ALLERGY! CHANGE YOUR GLOVES AND DON'T TOUCH ANY CHEESE!"

It was like an airport lock-down.

Cashier, turning back to us says sweetly: "Will that be everything?"

She then positioned herself to watch her grill crew make those burgers. We all saw both employees change their gloves (even though only one of them actually prepared our food) and pointedly concentrate on the task at hand. The openness of the kitchen area allows everyone to see exactly what is going on (This came in handy a few weeks ago when we were traveling and I had to alert a McDonald's manager that an employee grabbed a slice of cheese and hurriedly put it down to continue making our burgers. The manager apologized and re-made the burgers.).

Here are a few tips we've learned about ordering at fast food restaurants:
  • Avoid the drive-through.
  • Try to arrive at less busy times.
  • Be clear about the food allergies and what you need for them to do.
  • Model a consistent dialogue and tone knowing that your child will eventually need to order for him/her self
  • Watch the food preparation.
  • Don't hesitate to alert the manager if you are uncomfortable with anything you've seen.
  • Thank the employees for their extra efforts.
Remember to check out Allergy Eats to find and rate restaurants. The more ratings, the more helpful the information will be. Happy dining!


Milly said...

Better yet, avoid fast food altogether and don't ingest a chemistry lab full of ingredients. Junk food is junk food, allergic or not.

Jane Anne said...

When I saw the title of this post, I expected something bad about McDonalds. I am happy to see that they took it seriously.

Great tips!

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Unknown said...

I hear you, Milly! I'm certainly not advocating a diet filled with fast food, but I am fine with fast food as an occasional treat. It can also be a great help when traveling with food allergies.

Unknown said...

Yes, Jane Anne, I am glad to bring positive news related to food allergies and McDonalds. We've had several really good experiences at different McDonalds restaurants recently that demonstrate their food allergy training and sensitivity.

Gwen said...

Sometimes there isn't an option other than Fast Food (like when traveling late at night across the country to a funeral).

I can get fed gluten-free and shellfish free there. My son can manage a nut/egg/milk free meal there. So we do that.

Now if Chipotle had more locations and longer hours, we would have gone there! :)

Anonymous said...

Please Avoid fast food period. Its bad for the people who farm the food, bad for the people who eat the food, and bad for the people who work there. Which I have.

Eric, dairy free gluten free in AZ

Anonymous said...

I love the "avoid fast food" crowd. Travelling with allergic children is difficult enough as it is.

Finding a restaurant where the menu is at least somewhat consistent across the country and the ingredients are not ordered by the local chef is pretty impossible.

Anonymous said...

Sometimes avoiding fast food isn't possible. We don't shove junk food down our allergic childs throats because we think it's good for them. It may have been the only place that was convenient and safe at the time. Especially when traveling or late night excursions. My child is now a teen. When his friends go out for fast food (like McDonalds), he can join them and not feel left out as he did most of his childhood at school, bday parties, camp, etc.. when he could not eat what they ate. I hope someday when he is on his own or at college, he will choose to cook more of his own meals and eat healthy as much as possible. He eats healthy meals I make at home, but sometimes when you are out & about, you don't have a lot of choice. In our 15 years living with allergies, eating out is the biggest challenge.

Jen said...

Being food allergic myself, I'm glad McDonald's is getting the props it deserves. No, it's not healthy, and for that matter isn't that delicious either. However, McDonald's is a place I know I can manage my nut/peanut/fish/shellfish allergies without a problem. Same with Burger King. I don't like eating fast food, but when traveling across the country, where things close early, and place throw peanut shells on the floor, it's the only option.

Unknown said...

My son too has a severe milk allergy & we love Mc Donald's!!! KFC too is great along with Boston market!!!