I recently wrote about visiting restaurants safely and I have some new info (just gleaned from my info-packed FAAN newsletter) that I want to share.
A lot of times people don't want to "annoy" waiters by asking for special treatment in restaurants. I've certainly felt that way myself. To paraphrase the newsletter article, you can't assume that restaurant staff will take a food allergy seriously. Don't feel like all you have to say is "If I tell the waitperson that my child can't eat (insert food here) then they'll be OK. I hate to make a fuss."
They suggest that you be specific and say something like: "If my child eats peanuts, even a small amount, he/she will get very sick."
FAAN's website has a Chef Card template that you can use. I downloaded it--it's not a bad idea to take one of these when you go to a restaurant. It allows you to fill in your specific food allergy and it also suggests to the staff how to keep things clean and free from cross-contamination.
Now, not all restaurants are created equal. Will some folks look at you like you're insane if you hand them one of these? Possibly. But I think most (respectable) restaurants will either honor your request or tell you that they can't, in which case it's better to know ahead of time. Keep your standards high when eating out with a food-allergic person.