Looking for information about gluten? Check out our information on Avoiding Gluten.
Bon Appétit takes food allergies seriously and your health and safety is our highest priority. We support your food allergy needs by providing information and resources to empower you to make well-informed food choices in our cafés. Managing food allergies can be complex and we strive to work with you to understand your personal dietary needs — making every effort to accommodate those needs.
While our culinary teams receive extensive, on-going training related to food allergies, please be aware that we handle and prepare peanut, tree nut, egg, milk, wheat, shellfish, fish, soy, sesame, and other potential allergens in the food production areas of all Bon Appétit facilities. The only exception to this is in designated locations (such as a location that excludes nuts) where we will communicate these variances locally.
Our chefs are the best resource for real-time information about recipes and ingredients for a specific dish being served that day. A team of chefs, managers, and registered dietitian nutritionists (RDN) is available to answer questions that you have when making decisions about food choices in our cafés. We work together to provide reasonable accommodations so that you may participate in the dining experience as much as possible.
IF YOU HAVE A FOOD ALLERGY, TAKE ACTION!
Bon Appétit, in coordination with your college/university or employer, is here to support your food allergy needs. To fully benefit from this support, we ask that you participate in the management of your food allergies in the following ways.
Self-identify. Use the “contact us” feature on the home page of this website to connect with the Bon Appétit management team at your dining location. On college campuses, we also ask that you work through the school’s accommodation process.
Get to know your chefs and managers. This may start with an individual meeting to discuss your needs, establish a plan, and make sure you are connected. Then going forward, you’ll know who to ask when questions arise. Our chefs and managers understand the importance of your food allergy. Please direct all ingredient questions to a chef or manager.
- Be savvy in self-managing your food allergy.
- Recognize common food sources of your allergen(s) and work to avoid them.
- Recognize symptoms of your allergic reaction.
- Know your treatment plan in case of accidental exposure.
- Know when to ask for help.
- Never return to your residence hall or office alone if you suspect you are having a reaction.
Always carry medication(s) and emergency contacts with you in case of accidental exposure. Please note that Bon Appétit cannot store personal medications and in the event of an exposure, quick access to medication(s) can be lifesaving.
Read menu signage. When in doubt about any ingredients, seek out a manager or chef who can answer your questions. More detailed ingredient information, including package label review, can be provided upon request.
Take steps to avoid cross-contact. Cross-contact occurs when one food touches another food and the proteins mix, introducing potential allergen(s), and can result in accidental exposure. Minimizing cross-contact is a priority in our kitchens, but here are a few things for you to consider:
- Make selections from served stations.
- If choosing from a self-serve area, talk to a chef or manager for the best options to avoid cross-contact. Self-serve areas put you at substantial risk of cross-contact from other guests.
- In either service style, you may also ask for a portion from a batch of food that has not been on the service line.
- Ask dining employees to change their gloves and to use a new utensil and fresh pan at made-to-order stations.
- Avoid eating deep-fried foods. Fry oil may be used for multiple types of foods; this can lead to cross-contact with foods previously cooked in the fryer.
Keep an open dialogue. Let our management team know what is working well and what’s not — we’re always open to modifying the plans we’ve put in place with you. If we do not hear from you, we believe that you are successfully navigating the dining facilities.
ALLERGEN IDENTIFICATION IN BON APPÉTIT CAFÉS
Bon Appétit is dedicated to providing fresh, high quality, nutritious meals that are planned specifically by chefs at each of our cafés. We cook from scratch in all locations, much like you might do at home — tasting and adjusting as we go to ensure that our menu items are full of flavor and make use of as many local and seasonal ingredients as possible. As a result, our menu items change frequently, from ingredient substitutions to recipe revisions.
It is not uncommon for a single Bon Appetit kitchen to handle hundreds, if not thousands, of ingredients. For these reasons, the chefs and managers in your café are the best source of information. They will be able to tell you what was used in a dish in real time and if that item may have been prepared where risk for cross-contact is high, and share package information for the product(s) that were used.
MAKING CHOICES IN OUR CAFÉS
When you have food allergies, planning is a key step no matter the setting. We want to ease this process and help you to feel safe dining with us, so consider these tips when in Bon Appétit cafes:
- Explore the menu on your café’s website.
- Read menu items names and descriptions. We work to include the top-9 allergens (peanut, tree nut, egg, milk, wheat, shellfish, fish, soy, and sesame) in the menu item name and/or through a restaurant-style descriptor. This provides many with all the information they need while also letting you know when you may need to ask to see a label for a product used that day.
- Always ask to see the label for products not made in house such as vegetarian burgers, deli meats, French fries, cereals, and breads to name a few examples. These are the types of products you may check frequently at home too. Products change often and we’re happy to share the label so you have real-time information that will help you make the best choices.
- Set up a time to meet with our team and discuss safe meals that you can always count on being available. In many cases, we can make modifications to our daily offerings – so don’t be shy, just ask us! This is also a great time to talk through a plan to expedite your day-of questions to speed you through at mealtimes.
- Pick stations that best fit what you can eat. Depending on your allergy, some stations may be higher risk such as:
- Asian-style stations: peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, wheat/gluten, soy, and sesame are often integral ingredients at this station.
- Desserts: high-risk of cross-contact with wheat, egg, and in many cases nuts and tree nuts.
- Areas with bread products: breads vary greatly and can be a source of wheat/gluten, soy, egg, milk, and sesame.
- Salad bars: with a wide variety of foods served close to one another; the risk of cross-contact is high.
- Fried foods: residues from wheat/gluten, soy, egg, milk, fish, and shellfish are left behind in the fry oil from any foods cooked in the fryer.
- Eat slightly “off-peak” and when the café is not as busy and preferably earlier in the meal period. The staff is readily available to answer questions or pull a special portion from the kitchen for you, and there will be less opportunity for drips and spills at self-serve stations from other guests.
Remember, when in doubt contact the chef or café manager — we are always onsite and willing to assist.
MORE FOOD ALLERGY FACTS
Food allergies have become increasingly common in the United States. It is estimated that 32 million Americans today are affected by food allergies with 1 in 10 adults over the age of 18 living with a food allergy1. There is no cure for food allergies — they are managed by avoidance of the allergen-containing food(s) and learning how to recognize and quickly treat a reaction.
HOW CAN YOU DETERMINE IF YOU HAVE A FOOD ALLERGY OR INTOLERANCE?
If you suspect you have a food allergy, seek advice from a qualified medical provider, usually an allergist certified by the American Board of Allergy and Immunology. Once you identify your individual areas of concern, a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) can help you understand your dietary needs and create an individualized strategy that works best for you. Simply eliminating foods based on self-diagnosis or a hunch can leave you frustrated, with an unnecessarily restricted diet, and may not address the issue.
WHAT IS A FOOD ALLERGY VS. A FOOD INTOLERANCE?
Many people think the terms food allergy and food intolerance mean the same thing; however, there is a difference.
A food intolerance is an adverse food-induced reaction that does not involve the immune system. Lactose intolerance is one example of a food intolerance. A person with lactose intolerance has insufficient lactase, the enzyme needed to digest milk sugar. When this person eats milk products, symptoms such as gas, bloating, and abdominal pain may occur. Other common intolerances include gluten and sulfites.
A food allergy occurs when the immune system reacts to a certain food that the body mistakenly believes is harmful by producing antigens to that food. This results in an allergic reaction. Allergic reactions can affect the respiratory system, digestive tract, skin, and/or cardiovascular system, and can be mild (rashes, hives, itching, etc.) to severe (trouble breathing, wheezing, loss of consciousness). The most severe reaction is anaphylaxis which can potentially be life-threatening. Any food allergen can cause any of these symptoms, but peanut, tree nut, fish, and/or shellfish allergies are most likely to result in anaphylaxis.
More than 90 percent of all food allergies are attributable to the top-9 allergens: peanut, tree nut, egg, milk, wheat, shellfish, fish, soy, and sesame.
NAVIGATING COMMON SOURCES OF FOOD ALLERGENS
Single ingredient foods as well as packaged foods can be a source of food allergens. Single foods, such as peanuts or salmon, are typically easy to identify as allergens, but packaged foods can be harder to interpret.
Packaged foods must identify the top-9 food allergens (peanut, tree nut, egg, milk, wheat, shellfish, fish, soy, and sesame) using their common name. However, be aware that the information on the package label is only accurate to the contents of that package. This means that it’s important to review the label on a packaged food every time you consume that food —this is true for food in our cafés as well. We are always happy to share package labels if you are concerned about hidden allergens.
When eating away from home, knowing the common names and sources of your allergen can help you navigate menus more safely. If you are unfamiliar with the common sources of your allergen(s), the leading experts in food allergy awareness, FARE (Food Allergy Research & Education), maintain an extensive overview of common allergens including sources and other considerations to help you avoid your allergen(s).
DECODING VOLUNTARY STATEMENTS
As of this time, the use of advisory labels, such as may contain, processed in the same facility, processed on shared equipment, etc., on packaged foods is voluntary and there are no guidelines for their use. However, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has begun to develop a long-term strategy to help manufacturers use these statements in a clear and consistent manner so that consumers with food allergies can be informed as to the potential presence of the top-9 allergens. Please consult your allergist for recommendations on how to handle foods that carry a voluntary statement regarding your allergen.
- FARE (Food Allergy, Research & Education). www.foodallergy.org. Accessed January 2023.
Please be aware that Bon Appétit handles all top-9 allergens as well as other potential allergens in an open kitchen environment. Products, ingredients, and recipes may change without our knowledge or come into contact with other allergens. We cannot assure against this possibility. Guests with food allergies should speak with a manager or ask for assistance with food choices.
This information is not intended to take the place of advice from a healthcare professional. Check with your physician before starting any diet or exercise program. In addition, while all efforts have been made to ensure the information included in this material is correct, new research is released frequently and may invalidate certain pieces of data. January 2023.