UPDATE: It appears that this article has been unpublished since I posted my open letter to Narcity. This is a big win for the food allergy community! Thanks to everyone who commented, shared and helped spread the word.
As the mom of a toddler with multiple food allergies, there are days when it feels like my precious little boy is actually allergic to everything. Maybe that’s because it’s not easy eating out when you’re dealing with allergies to peanuts, tree nuts, egg, sesame, sunflower and (previously) soy. So when I came across your article, entitled 7 Places to Eat in Toronto When You’re Allergic to Everything, it felt like I had struck gold.
But you know what they say: If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
“It’s almost like [the author] forgot what she was writing about halfway through the article. I think what she meant by ‘allergic to everything’ was allergic to dairy. Annoying.” – Victoria (allergy mom)
Here’s the thing: The food allergy community already deals with its fair share of challenges and disappointments on an almost daily basis. We don’t have the time or the patience to be misled by headlines that are essentially clickbait.
And sadly, that’s all this article is.
Because for an article that is supposed to be speaking to an audience that has so many allergies that “people think [they] only eat rabbit food,” it doesn’t do anything more than dangle a carrot (pun intended).
Did you know that none* of the 7 eating spots you listed are actually nut-free? Not one. What was the thought behind leaving peanuts (and other top allergens) out of a piece whose audience is “allergic to everything”? Or did any thought go into this piece at all?
“Okay, I’m fairly certain the author just googled ‘vegan places in Toronto’ because the vast majority of these places are an absolute no-go for anyone with any allergy.” – Danielle (food-allergic individual)
And yet—here’s the kicker—it’s the second result in a Google search for “allergy-safe restaurants in Toronto.” You know what that means? Those who are newly diagnosed are happening upon this article far too often. At best, they are sorely disappointed. At worst, they could possibly put themselves (or their children) in an unsafe situation.
And what about food-allergic tourists? As a publication that “always knows what’s up,” you should be aiming to help visitors with food allergies in their search for accommodating eating spots in the city. Instead, you are misleading them.
So Narcity, I have a favour to ask: The next time you decide to write a post on the topic of allergy-friendly eating spots for people with multiple food allergies, please please please do your research. Then make sure your list (collectively) accommodates all of the top allergens. If you can’t do that, make sure the title of your post reflects the content within.
“The article’s title needs changing. Period! The author needs to be schooled!” – Sierra (food allergy mom)
For future allergy pieces, here are some important points you may want to reference before hitting publish:
- Organic ≠ allergen-free
- Vegan ≠ dairy, egg or meat allergy
- Going gluten-free ≠ wheat allergy
- Celiac disease ≠ wheat allergy
- Lactose intolerance ≠ dairy allergy
- A food “sensitivity” ≠ food allergy
- Top food allergies in Canada are: egg, milk/dairy, mustard, peanuts, seafood/fish, sesame, soy, sulphites, tree nuts, wheat
Narcity, I strongly urge you to unpublish this piece (or at the very least, rename it) and re-assign the topic to a writer who has an actual understanding of what eating out with food allergies entails. Someone who will produce meaningful content without alienating the audience you were writing for in the first place. Me? (Yes, I’m serious.)
*Not one of your seven eating spots is nut-free, unless you count Bunner’s. This is a contentious spot because, while they do not use nuts in any of their baked goods, they use flour (and possibly other ingredients) that have been manufactured in a facility that processes nuts. Therefore, they cannot guarantee that trace elements won’t be present. Many with nut allergies will not take the risk.
Writer, Foodie & Food Allergy Mom
P.S. If you want to find (at least) 7 allergy-friendly spots, look no further. (You’re welcome!)