I got a great email recently.
As a father of 5 children, 2 of whom with food allergies, I am very aware of the difficulties and anxieties that go along with having to manage food allergies/intolerances on a daily basis. In my experience, dining out has been one of the greatest challenges and sources of frustration.
As a result of this, I decided two years ago to create an easy-to-use online guide to allergy-friendly restaurants for the benefit of our entire community. I am writing you today in an effort to introduce you to this new website, AllergyEats (www.allergyeats.com), with the thought that you might find it a valuable tool to share with your readers.
AllergyEats is a peer-based guide with a database that includes over 600,000 US restaurants. Individuals with food allergies or intolerances can rate any restaurant experience by answering 3 simple questions (adding comments if they like). The process can take under a minute. The answers to these questions are translated into a simple “allergy-friendliness” rating.
Other users can then go to AllergyEats when seeking an allergy-friendly restaurant. By simply typing in the geographic location they’re interested in, users can see a restaurant’s “allergy-friendliness” rating, as well as other useful information where available, such as menus, allergen lists, gluten-free menus, nutrition guides, industry certifications, and more.
AllergyEats is new, having been live for roughly 10 weeks. However, where awareness has blossomed, initial reaction has been fantastic and word-of-mouth has driven many ratings quickly (the Boston metro area achieved over 200 ratings in this short amount of time!). Each additional rating, anywhere in the country, increases the value of AllergyEats as a tool for our entire food allergy community. That is why major food allergy and Celiac organizations have endorsed or become friends of AllergyEats so quickly (please see these tabs on the site)... and there are more to come!
The overall look of the site is great and easy to use. Typing in at least your state and zip code is necessary to narrow down that huge database, but you can search by distance, by restaurant name, and by ten allergens: Peanuts, Dairy, Wheat, Fish, Sesame, Tree Nuts, Eggs, Gluten, Shellfish, and Soy. If you find a restaurant that looks good you can get a Google map and directions.
The problem, of course, is that 99% of local restaurants have not been rated yet. Chains do have very useful links to nutritional information and allergen pages, however.
It's the usual chicken and egg problem. The site would be more helpful if people used it and added ratings, but getting people to use a site with no ratings is a challenge.
That's why Paul emailed me, to get the word out, and I'm glad to help. Go there, rate a few restaurants, and tell your friends.