May 18, 2010

It’s a ‘Loolu’ of a Pizza

Posted in Cross Contamination, Food Allergy, Restaurants tagged , , , at 5:01 am by 1ElleofaWoman

Peanut allergies and pizza – It’s a ‘Loolu’

One day last year, Jess & I went to the movies with my friends and her kids. Afterwards we went to Pizza Loolu, a pizzeria that was in my located in my town in a strip mall that has a high turnover rate.  That location once had a Mexican restaurant, and Pizza Loolu has now been replaced by a Greek restaurant.  But the experience is still worth writing about.

At the time, none of us had eaten there. We ordered a pie and sodas and since Anna paid for the movies, I paid for lunch while she and the kids found a table. After I paid, I realized that I hadn’t asked if they used any peanut oil or peanut butter in the pizza.

I’ve read in a FAAN newsletter that some people put peanut butter in tomato sauce, but I always wondered if that is a regional thing; no restaurateur I have spoken to in New York, New Jersey or even at Disney World has even heard of such a thing. Some chefs seemed insulted when asked. Then, to Jessica’s great disappointment, Pizza Hut changed its sauce which was listed as “may contain peanuts” so we no longer eat there. (But its April 2010 allergen guide doesn’t have the may contain.  I wonder if it is safe again?)

“We don’t use peanut oil but,” the person behind the counter at Pizza Loolu said. He then hemmed and hawed, which is a bad sign, so before he said they had peanut butter pizza on their dessert menu and she should stay away from the dessert bar, I knew I wouldn’t let Jess eat there.

But, as a last ditch effort I asked if the dessert pizza was prepared near the regular pizza. He mentioned “incidental contact” and I turned to Anna & said Jessica can’t eat anything here, would she mind watching her while I got something else for her.

She offered to leave and go somewhere else, but I had already paid and the

In addition to the desserts pictured, Pizza Loolu had a peanut butter dessert pizza on the menu.

 girls already had their coats off, it was snowing and I didn’t want to inconvenience everyone else because I hadn’t checked out the pizza parlor beforehand.

I drove to McDonalds in town and ordered a happy meal. It’s not healthy but on short notice, it was the best I could do. As I waited, I realized I left my daughter in a restaurant that served peanut butter and I had the epinephrine. It was not my best day as a parent.

I momentarily panicked. I knew Jessica wouldn’t eat anything without my approval; she is very good about that. And Anna always makes sure she is safe. So I calmed myself and soon my order arrived. I headed toward the pizza place. But as I was driving back, it occurred to me that Jessica might touch something with peanut butter on it. She’s not contact sensitive but if she touched something —  a chair or table that hadn’t been cleaned well for example — and then put her hands to her mouth or eyes she could have a reaction. It probably would have taken longer to pull over, grab my phone from my purse, and make a call then it would to get back to the pizza place. So I continued on.

They still hadn’t gotten their pizza when I arrived, so Jessica wasn’t stuck watching people eat while she waited. I thought it best not to mention my anxiety-ridden car ride and everything turned out well in the end.

I had such luck with pizza parlors that I didn’t even think to check beforehand. But that will not happen again

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