Um…excuse me? What kind of oil do you use? Oh, you don’t know….okay awkward…uh, bye.
When you have a food allergy, intolerance, or sensitivity and you go out to a restaurant, you don’t know what is in the food or how it is made, therefore you have to ask the restaurant staff in order to avoid a reaction from happening. With a sensitivity like mine, being sensitive to canola oil, I have to ask restaurants an uncommon question of what kind of oil they use, which is a lot harder than you would think.
Most of the time, the restaurant workers have no idea what oil they use because they have no reason to. Why would anyone, especially a waitress or waiter, need to know what oil they have? I wouldn’t even know what kind of oil I have in my house if I didn’t have my sensitivity and didn’t have to look at the label. In fact, before I developed my sensitivity, I had no clue what kind of oil I had besides vegetable oil, which is the case for most restaurants. But, the thing about vegetable oil is that that can mean any kind of oil and even a mix of different oils. The vegetable oil I have happens to be soybean oil, but each oil is different.
My uncommon sensitivity to oil isn’t a 8+ common allergen, therefore isn’t listed in the book of allergens where a staff member can grab the book and look to see if that food item has that allergen. Instead, they will have to ask the manger and/or chef to find the oil and read the label in order for me to avoid my sensitivity, which can either be a hit or miss.
One time, I went to Burger King, with my family members who were picking up dinner, asking them what kind of oil they use out of curiosity because you never know unless you ask. Well, no one working there, not even the manager, could tell me what oil they had. I’m like, can’t you go in the back, find the big jug of oil you’ll use and read the label? Still to this day, I don’t know what oil they use; I couldn’t even find that information online like I could with other fast food restaurants like McDonald’s, Wendy’s and Chick- Fil- A.
Luckily, I had some good success asking restaurants about the oil. I found a decent amount of restaurants I can eat at and enjoy their food or at least their fries. The Chinese restaurant down the street is safe for me to eat because of their use of soybean oil. Johnny Rockets also uses soybean oil. Five Guys, luckily for me uses peanut oil, but unfortunately for peanut allergies, they must stay away, although I love getting myself some fries, a milkshake and free peanuts.
Having to ask what kind of oil is used is a learning lesson for both me and the restaurant. I learn what restaurants I can eat at while restaurants learn what kind of oil they use as well as awareness to the fact that some people, like myself, may be sensitive to oil. Having to find out what kind of oil is used can be stressful especially when the restaurant doesn’t know or I find out I can’t eat there because of the use of canola oil. I’ve learned not to be afraid to ask because I’ll never know unless I do, but for the most part, I avoid restaurants, although never be afraid to ask someone especially when it’s a life or death situation. Don’t just assume one way or the other. Speak up and ask.