I am allergic to coconut oil and concerned about eating in a restaurant. Do chefs cook with coconut oil?
Per the FDA (in the United States) coconut is now considered a tree nut, though many individuals who are allergic to tree nuts are not allergic to coconut. (See Is Coconut a Tree Nut)
A coconut allergy is less common than a tree nut allergy and a coconut oil allergy even more so. A true food allergy results from a reaction to the allergen protein. Most oils are so refined that there is little to no protein left. However, as you know, it is still possible.
We suggest you treat your allergy like any other food allergy. When eating out, all food allergic individuals should do the following:
1. When possible, call the restaurant or visit the restaurant website ahead of time to learn about their menu.
2. Mention your allergies to the host, wait staff and/or manager and inquire as to whether they can accommodate you.
3. Ask how foods are cooked, what they are cooked in and what types of oils, seasonings etc. they use.
4. When your food arrives, double check that you received what you ordered and that the waiter remembered to label your ticket as an allergy concern.
5. Always keep your EpiPen on hand.
6. If you feel uncomfortable at any time, do not eat the food and/or leave the restaurant.
The above suggestions should help to ensure that you have a safe and enjoyable dining experience when eating out.