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Paul Antico never realized the challenges of eating out with his
five children, two of whom have food allergies, until their
favorite restaurant was booked when they visited. That set the
family on a frustrating, two-hour journey trying to find a
restaurant that could accommodate his kids' allergies.
They landed at a place with egg-free pasta.
Determined to make sure this never happened again, Antico
started a website, AllergyEats.com, that rates restaurants
for their allergy friendliness. The ratings come from other parents
of allergic kids who have visited the restaurant and then filled
out a short questionnaire about its ability to accommodate people
with food allergies.
"The ratings are user-generated; someone with food
allergies goes out and then answers three questions to rate it,"
Antico says. "That means the rating is focused on the food
allergies, not on, oh, 'The chicken marsala stunk.'"
AllergyEats.com lists more than 600,000 restaurants
nationwide. The site also offers information on restaurants'
offerings (including gluten-free menus), allergen lists, nutrition
information, certifications, web links and directions.
Because the website is still fairly new, the bulk of the
ratings are on the East Coast. But about 30 Chicago-area
restaurants are rated, and information on other local restaurants
has been loaded to the website, waiting for a family to visit them
and rate them.
When you're looking for a restaurant, simply enter your
location and a list of restaurants by location and allergy
friendliness ratings appears. If you're headed to a restaurant that
hasn't been rated, you can fill out the survey when you get home so
that other users will have the information.
"This is a peer-based site where we're helping each other
and as more people get involved, the ratings will grow," Antico
Liz DeCarlo is the senior editor at Chicago Parent.
See more of Liz's stories here.
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