Restaurant Guidelines

One of our research participants has shared with us a card that they give out at restaurants to help the staff provide them with “safe” food.  They have had good success with this strategy.  Feel free to print a few out and try them yourself!

Mammalian Meat Allergy Restaurant Guidelines

15 responses to “Restaurant Guidelines”

  1. Hal Mekeel says :

    Thanks for creating this. My wife is very allergic, and we’ve been trying to standardize what we tell the staffs at restaurants. fIt is particularly tough at Chinese, Indian, etc. This should work nicely.

  2. Stephanie says :

    Thank you for the guide. I had tears in my eyes when I found this site. I’m not alone anymore with this crazy allergy!

    • Hal Mekeel says :


      You’re absolutely not alone. We have learned to manage this, but still mess up on occasion. We went out to eat last evening, and the waitperson was great. She took it very seriously, and there were no problems. We have certain restaurants where we feel comfortable, and my wife can have a great meal without worry. it’s a very difficult allergy, and I’m sorry you have to deal with it.


  3. Terry Stewart says :

    Hal, Terry here on Laine Rd. Your wife and I must have been bitten by the same ticks! It’s giving me fits about what I can and can’t eat. Sometimes I’m OK with dairy but have had reactions 4/5 days this week, with one trip to the ER at UNC. Have had good luck with a few restaurants in CH and Durham. Robyn (went to school with your son) works at Vin Rouge in Durham and assured me that the better restaurants are more than willing to work with folks on allergies. So far, so good. Even had good luck with Trattoria, a very small restaurant in Swansboro, near Emerald Isle. Thank goodness for John going so many times to the ER in the middle of the night. Dr. Platts-Mills’ son was on duty in the ER this week. What a relief to have somebody who knows about this!!! Last time (Aug) they tried to treat me for panic attack.

    • Hal Mekeel says :

      OMG! Terry. What an amazing coincidence. It has been a nightmare as you well know. We now have 2 barbecue grills so Maria can have grilled food with the rest of us. We’re now down in Briar Chapel, off 15-501. They have miles and miles of walking trails, but Maria was getting so many Lone Star Tick bites, we gave up until tick season ended. She would love to have someone to commiserate about this with allergy. She has had it for about 2.5 years. When did you start? You can email me directly at


    • Marcia says :

      Hal/Terry — We are in Durham too, and my 15-year-old son developed this allergy 2 years ago. He wound up in the ER and was very close to death. We are continuing to learn to adjust to it as a family. He was out in the woods with his friends, and got a whole gang of the Lone Star ticks on his ankle. Am very thankful we found a good allergist at UNC who diagnosed it quickly. I am finding, though that we have to be so cautious; made red beans and rice with turkey sausage in it tonight, only to find before I cooked the turkey that it was wrapped in beef collagen. Be careful! (The brand was Hillshire Farms). I am glad to know about the gelatin being problematic; we had never thought about that. We are also finding some restaurants that are very cooperative with the meat allergy.

      • Hal Mekeel says :

        Hi Marcia,

        Not only is the sausage a problem, but ground turkey and chicken are as well. I suspect that they don’t clean the grinder sufficiently after passing red meat through it. Maria called the Butterball folks, and they deny this, but normally, fowl doesn’t cause a problem. My son and daughter in-law gave as an electric grinder, so that’s a good work-around.

        Cafe Luna in Raleigh is a great Italian place and our server from that night has a relative with the allergy, and said that the kitchen is very red meat allergy friendly.

  4. Alex says :

    I was told I have this allergy recently. I’m 15 years old, and I have been a vegetarian since I was about 9. I was not excepting to be allergic to anything like this, considering I’m already highly allergic to Cinnamon, and now I’m allergic to Alpha-Gal.

    • Hal Mekeel says :

      Hi Alex,

      I’m starting to hear from other young folks with this allergy. It’s pretty awful, but being a vegetarian must help a lot. Are you sensitive to dairy as well? My wife says she can handle it as long as she doesn’t become allergic to chocolate!


  5. Amy Hall says :

    When I travel I look for vegetarian restaurants. This way I am sure they are not cooking my vegetables in pork broth. Indian Vegetarian places are my favorite, the wonderful spices! I get tired of chicken. Fish can be more expensive some places, and if you don’t speak the language, you cannot be sure how it is prepared. Pork is very common in Asia. The most difficult travel location for this food allergy was Bavaria. Not a chicken to be found in the whole Bavarian countryside, 95% of every menu was swine.

    • Maria Mekeel says :

      I’ve had problems at very upscale restaurants, even after explaining the my food had to be cooked apart. I now take a zyrtec before eating out.


  6. Terry Stewart says :

    Jimmy Dean makes a pretty good turkey sausage pattie with no beef or pork contaminating it. Also, Butterball turkey bacon is the best I’ve found. Now if I can figure out how to make a birthday cake for myself! My biggest nightmares are buffets. You never know who has used a serving utensil in what pot. I skip them altogether. Since a bowl of icce cream was the last thing that sent me to the ER in anaphylaxis, my diet has shrunk considerably. It’s a real challenge and some of the time I’m too tired to think about all the parameters so I don’t eat. Trying to work on that. I have fond some good restaurants in CH and Durham with chefs who are very helpful and ready to help – Carolina Inn, Squid’s, PF Chang’s, Washington Duke and Vin Rouge. I even found a small Italian restaurant in Swansborough where the chef made the yummiest plate of veggies I think I’ve ever eaten. But the explaining has gotten old very fast.

    • Hal Mekeel says :

      Hey Terry,

      Thanks for the tip on the Jimmie Dean sausage pattie. Maria has been afraid to try turkey bacon. Maria’s taste for meat has never been that strong (although she’d like a burger once in a while, so it’s over shadowed by the paranoia of cross contamination. If the dairy sensitivity worsens, that would be a real issue for her. Are you ushering at the state game? Dale Giera and I will be there.


  7. Terry Stewart says :

    Any studies going on for desensitization? I’d be will to volunteer.

  8. Laurie Sevedge Beane says :

    So glad I’m not alone! My key tip is to tell the staff up front it is a life-threatening allergy. I do not eat any meat (non mammalian) that has been cooked with “red meat,” I request it is cooked in a separate dish or don’t eat there. Following this approach I haven’t had a reaction in some time (I had to take this seriously) as I just had a baby.

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