I came across this article on Forbes.com (written by Colette Martin, author of Learning to Bake Allergen-Free) about food allergies in the workplace and how just because someone doesn't go out for after-work drinks on a Friday night (among other examples) doesn't mean they are anti-social. It might mean they are allergic to wheat, which is in beer, or other foods.
Here is an excerpt from the article:
Recent studies show that as many as 15 million Americans have food allergies. Another 2 million suffer from celiac disease, and many more suffer from food intolerances. As food allergies continue to rise, more young adults with food allergies are entering the workforce, and employers should take notice.
Schools have been dealing with food allergies for quite some time, but now there is this new generation of young adults entering the workforce and many of these new employees have food allergies. Whereas in school, the parents were doing the advocating, now it's up to these young adults to advocate for themselves.
As the article states:
Food allergy challenges in the workplace aren’t restricted to social events and celebrations. Plane travel, business lunches and dinners with clients, and conferences all require special planning for an employee with food allergies. Even a seemingly simple business-networking event, such as a baseball game where peanuts are thrown around the stadium, can be a challenge for an employee with food allergies.
My husband has attended several work events that involved dinners, and he always has to have a back-up plan for food because gluten-free meals are usually not an option at these events—or he has to wait until he gets home from the dinner event to eat. For him, it's an inconvenience he has grown accustomed to. Thankfully, these events don't happen often. But for other more typical workplaces, I can see where it would become a problem for someone with food allergies. It's not something I ever really thought about until now!
The Forbes article has great suggestions for what employees and employers can do to create an allergy-friendly work environment. And what better time to assess your own workplace than right now during Food Allergy Awareness Week (May 13-19)!