Ordering food in a foreign language can be difficult. Sometimes you order a pickled sausage and get a jar of lard instead. But what if you get something that you are very allergic to?
Many restaurants have their own ways of explaining the ingredients in their food, and there is often a little note at the bottom of the menu asking you to tell them if you have any allergies. Non-native Czech speakers have trouble differentiating chicken ‘kuře’ and smoke ‘kouř’, and it goes both ways. With some allergies the tiniest miscommunication can be very dangerous.
Effective January 1st, a law requires restaurants in the Czech Republic to use a standardized allergy/dietary restriction chart. Sometimes they are written as just the number and other times they start with an A. Here is the list:
- Cereals containing gluten
- Crustaceans and derived products
- Eggs and derived products
- Fish and derived products
- Peanuts and derived products
- Soybeans and derived products
- Milk and derived products (including lactose)
- Nuts: almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, cashews, pecans, Brazilian nuts, pistachios, macadamia nuts and derived products.
- Celery and derived products
- Mustard and derived products
- Sesame seeds and derived products
- Sulfur dioxide and sulphites
- Lupin and derived products
- Shellfish and derived products
Supposedly every restaurant is supposed to be using this system already, including fast food places like McDonalds. I don’t know how strictly it is monitored, but it’s a great start and I hope to see this system in more and more restaurants around the country.