Colleen Bailey is American and lives in Germany with her husband and 7 year old son, who has a peanut allergy. She writes about their adventures on her blog Bailey Planet and here she shares her top tips for visiting Germany with allergies.
Tips for visiting Germany with a peanut allergy
When we made the decision to move our family to Germany a couple of years ago for my husband’s career, our son’s peanut allergy was our top concern. Diagnosed at two years old, after a terrible reaction from one small peanut butter cracker, our lives have been consumed by the threat of reaction ever since.
Although there are days where I want to put my son in a bubble and protect him for the rest of his life, I know that I need to raise an aware and cautious young man – one that needs to know what to do and the right questions to ask when he ventures out on his own one day.
So here are a few tips for traveling to Germany with food allergies:
- Germany, as part of the European Union (EU), has fairly strict regulations on displaying top 14 allergens on pre-packaged foods and menus in restaurants.
- But the EU does NOT have a requirement to provide information regarding whether a food “may contain an allergen” or was “processed in a facility” that also processes allergens.
- Our allergy is peanuts (Erdnüsse in German). – however, the Germans love tree nuts. If your allergy is to tree nuts, I would avoid the Bäckerei (bakery) and most, if not all desserts.
- Most menus are in English, and most wait staff speak at least some English, but it’s important to communicate to them the allergy and its severity. Some ways to do this include:
- Always be prepared with “My son is allergic to…peanuts” (Mein Sohn ist allergisch gegen… Erdnüsse) You don’t necessarily need to know how to say it, but at least have it written down. I always have it ready in the translate app on my phone.
- I also keep handy the site, blog.tripbase.com/how-to-say-im-allergic-to-peanuts-in-45-languages/
- Another option is to have allergy cards made to inform the wait staff of your allergy in their native language. It’s important that there are NO misunderstandings with food allergies!
- Remember to always know the emergency numbers – in the EU, it’s 112. You do need a SIM card to make this call, but it is free from any pay phone. Always locate the nearest hospital in the city you are visiting. I like to find the hospital in Google Maps and drop a pin so I can easily locate it later, if necessary.
If you plan on traveling to more of the eastern European or Balkan countries, the language barrier can be a bit more difficult, and you will find more restaurants without English menus or English-speaking wait staff. We haven’t found it to be an issue for us, but it does take more research on my part to find a restaurant.
We are lucky enough to live in a country with rich, delicious foods such as Spätzle, Bratwurst, Schnitzel and Kartoffeln, and I’m thrilled that he gets to enjoy these with us. We will never let his peanut allergy stop us from enjoying all that Germany and the world has to offer, but we will always certainly take all of the necessary precautions to keep him safe on our journey! I know that there’s a great, big, beautiful, diverse world out there that he needs to see.