Saturday, January 26, 2008

Burger King blunder

I've been horribly absent from my blog because I've got a huge confession to make.

I screwed up at Burger King.

This happened in December, just before Christmas. I had taken the day off work to take Andrew to his preschool's Christmas party. All of the preschool classes for the organization were invited, so there were about 100 kids in the room, so I was totally on guard for the entire experience.

They had Charlotte Diamond perform, and then there was a party with Christmas cookies and juice in the other room. I was prepared for that, too, and had Andrew's safe organic Oreos with me, and a boxed juice too, just to protect him from the shared juice pitchers and cups. (Okay, maybe that was a little too paranoid, but I was feeling a little shaky by that point.)

After that, I went with a few other moms from his preschool to Burger King, because it was on our way home, and because this one has a cool set of climbing tubes and slides, about two storeys high. The kids loved it, and had a blast screaming up, down and all over the equipment.

I'd looked over the Burger King menu earlier that month, and I knew that he could have two things off their menu: something with chicken, and the fries. So I ordered for us, and told the cashier that he has a dairy allergy, and that he wanted the chicken and fries. She rang up the crown nuggets and fries kids meal for us, and that's what he had for lunch.

He then went to his best friend's house for a playdate, and complained at the time of itchy eyes, something that we thought was because of their cat.

It wasn't.

Later that night, I checked the Burger King menu, and found out that I'd totally messed up. The crown chicken nuggets contain buttermilk. It's the chicken fries that are safe for him.

I called up that franchise and left a message for them about the allergic reaction, despite the fact that I had told the cashier that there was a dairy allergy. I have not heard back from them.

I haven't contacted the main Burger King office because they don't have an email address on their website. Yes, in this day and age, there is a major company that refuses to accept email correspondence. Unbelievable, isn't it?

Andrew woke up around 10 that night, scratching at himself all over. Since I finally knew what was going on (his cat reaction is usually just sneezing and runny nose, not full-body itches), I gave him a dose of Benadryl, and he was mostly fine by the next morning.

Of course, I wasn't. Despite having been on my guard all morning, I'd let it down at lunch, and my child paid for my mistake. I kicked myself all through Christmas.

What I've learned from this experience:
  • Andrew's still got a dairy allergy, though it's not nearly as bad as it used to be (previous reactions included hives and vomiting)
  • I should never let my guard down, even if I think I know what's safe. And never, EVER, trust a 16-year-old cashier at a fast food restaurant.
  • Andrew loves hanging out with his best friend, and will endure any amount of itching to be with him!
What I hope happens:
  • Burger King trains its staff to hand out ingredients lists the minute a customer mentions any kind of allergy.
Now that I've finally written this post to confess my sins, I'm going to print it out and mail it to Burger King's head office. Updates later, if anything ever comes of it.


modmom said...

wow allergicmom! what a bummer. i'm glad you found my allergy friendly cupcake giveaway! feeding kids is hard enough, but you have a very tough job :)

Allergic Girl said...

oh allergic mom that must have been very unnerving. and scary!

however in scrolling thru your blog i came upon your list of advice to parents dealing with their child's allergy: #5 on your list
forgive yourself.
he's okay, luckily as you said his allergy has lessened and you know where it came from.

i'd be very interested to hear what BK has to say about this, i'm CERTAIN you are not the only parent that has had allergic issues with them...

Allergy Mom said...

I'm so sorry! It's easy to tell you not to be so hard on yourself, but I know that horrible guilty feeling. Especially after working so hard to educate school staff, etc., it's even worse when you are responsible for your own child's reaction. My husband and I have both done it, too.

purplemommy said...

Forgive yourself. I did something very similar at the mall last week. I was kicking myself for the rest of the day.

allergicmom said...

Thanks to everyone for your supportive words. There was one good thing about the experience. Since it happened before Christmas, I was extra vigilant through the holidays, through all the visits to friends' and family's houses, and there were no further incidents in all those unexpected situations. (Whew!)

Meg said...

You know how you said in an earlier post to chalk it up to experience and not blame yourself? I hope you're cutting yourself some slack, too.

HogfatSmurf said...

I did the same thing at a chain restaurant when I was on vacation in September when I forgot to tell them to make sure the bacon wasn't cooked in the same pan as the eggs. My two year old's face swelled up like a balloon. I was so angry I was in tears. My gut reaction is just to stay away from certain restaurants - and form relationships with the restaurants I do frequent. My husband grew up with allergies though, and he's insistent that we don't limit our child's experiences, as scary as it is. It's so hard... so hard.

Ronni said...

Yipes. That sounds like a terribly scary experience. Thanks for stopping by my blog the other day. I've entered your name in the spreadsheet.

RighterLady said...

I'm so sorry about what happened. Focus on 2 things
1 - Your son is ok.
2 - You are a human being.
We all screw up every once in awhile.
You need to kiss your son, forgive yourself, and chalk it up to a bad experience. From everything I've read, you're far more vigilant than most!

ChupieandJ'smama said...

So sorry this happened! I'm glad it wasn't too severe a reaction. We've all made mistakes like this so don't be too hard on yourself. Burger King is the only Fast Food my son can eat and it's only the fries. I've noticed that training varies by franchise. If you haven't already gotten a response, call Burger King corporate. They'll only take a complaint againt that franchise, but maybe it will force them into better food allergy training.

Karen said...

I really can relate. Sometimes we just want to relax and have a fast food experience like *everyone else* gets to have. That is ALWAYS when something happens.
I just met with my little guy's principal and she asked me to list his last few allergic reactions and they were ALL times he has been with me. I really understand how you feel but I suppose it is part of the path we are on!

Hippy Goodwife said...

I know this is an old post, but I wanted to add my voice! I messed up at a McDonalds last week. Only the third time we have ever eaten there. The food from the restaurant was fine but someone brought in a pb&j sanwich and got pb on the play equipment. Benadryl and a trip to the doctor for us. No epi this time.

We are all human! I am so glad your son is ok.

Jill said...

Thank you so much for posting your experience! I found your blog and this post when I googled "burger king allergy information" and now I know why my daughter has had diarrhea all afternoon and is walking like a bow-legged cowgirl :( She too has a dairy allergy and I thought the crown nuggets were safe as she has had them before. I can totally understand your perspective because I too feel so guilty. She is the one that suffers when I mess up.

Sam said...

It's okay if you screwed up in that Burger King accident,as long as it will never happen again. I have a son that has an allergy too and i always keep track on what he's going to eat. Best regards to you..

Allergy doctor

Anonymous said...

I have had the same problem at restaurants with my son's milk allergy. Captain D's and Burger King have been the worst for negligence, even when I very specifically explain the allergy. McDonalds has changed their ingredients since the last time I asked them about it (or they gave me incorrect information the first time I asked). Did you know that McD's fries, hash browns, and sausage patties contain milk?

One of my son's first symptoms of ingesting a milk product is terrible pain in his foot and leg. This usually happens within 15 minutes to a few hours, depending on what he has eaten. Has your son ever complained of such symptoms?