Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Australian business at work

The conclusion of this story coincides with my experience of Australian business inefficiency -- JR

UNLESS you live with someone who has a serious food allergy it is really hard to fully comprehend how difficult it can be for all involved. I can't just shop for whatever food I want - everything has to be checked. Almost every product you buy now has the get-out-clause ''may contain traces of nuts''. Even packets of peanuts - I kid you not.

Traces are not usually a problem in Michael's case but we do have to scan all the ingredients to make sure there are no actual nuts listed. But even then that's no guarantee as he's reacted to a number of foods where no nuts are listed.

Every time you order food you have to ask the same question, ''Does it contain nuts?'', and quite often you're greeted with a blank face, a ''I'm not sure'' or a shrug of the shoulders.

Every time we eat out Michael has to start by saying: ''I have an allergy to nuts so please advise me if I order anything that I shouldn't.''

Probably the worst example was Michael's 40th birthday meal.

I had booked a table at a very nice restaurant in the city and, as a surprise, I wanted to order him a cake.

I spoke with the restaurant who were very helpful and advised me to just clearly indicate on an order form that no nuts must be included. I did as advised: ''Please NO NUTS at all.''

I sent the form back to the restaurant and soon afterwards received a phone call.

''Because we buy in our cakes from a caterer we cannot guarantee that it won't be made on equipment where nuts may have been used,'' they said.

I advised that that was fine as traces of nuts were not usually a problem, just as long as no actual nuts were used on - or in - the cake. They assured me that would be fine.

We had several other conversations as the meal approached and again I was reassured no nuts would be used.

We had a lovely meal - as always Michael began the evening by advising the waiter of his allergy and the waiter duly helped him steer clear of ordering anything that could possibly contain nuts.

And then came the surprise cake - beautifully decorated - 'Happy 40th Birthday Michael' written on the top, and it even had sparklers!

Photos were taken and then a voice said: ''Erm - aren't they nuts?'' All around the edge of the cake was decorated with a sprinkling of crushed nuts.

The waiter was called over, the manager fetched - the apologies long and gushing. The outcome was that we got the whole meal for free - which Michael says as far as he's concerned as a Yorkshireman - was great.

But sadly, Michael didn't get to have his cake and eat it.,23739,25506257-23272,00.html

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