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  • Emily

Starbucks With a Food Allergy

Starbucks is arguably the most famous coffee chain in America. From serving delicious coffee to the aesthetic of posting about going to Starbucks, what's not to love?

But I'll give you one reason not to love Starbucks: they are awful at keeping food allergic individuals safe.

For the past nine years following my diagnosis of my nut allergy, I have not eaten or drank a single thing from Starbucks. Even the water is a risk there. Today, I'm sharing my top 4 reasons to not go to Starbucks with a food allergy.

1. Milks are not separate

Almond milk has been a trend for the last few years. The problem? All the coffee chains, including Starbucks, have implemented almond milk in their stores, which poses a major cross contamination risk for food allergic individuals like me. In addition Starbucks does not label their different milk pitchers. This article states that "while cross contamination was still an issue, it is now completely unavoidable". When you combine this with the fact that Starbucks uses dairy, soy, coconut, and almond milks, you get a disaster for many people that have these common allergens.

2. Food is kept in a small case

Starbucks keeps their food in a small, aesthetically pleasing container. But this poses an almost guaranteed risk of cross contamination. If a piece of food falls onto another food in the same container, and a food allergic person ate the food, it would be a deadly mistake.

3. Allergen policy? See "don't come here if you have allergies"

Starbucks' allergen policy is basically nonexistent. It states that "Starbucks cannot guarantee that any of our hand-crafted beverages or unpackaged food items are allergen-free because we use shared equipment to store, prepare and serve them. Some beverage ingredients may be produced in an environment where allergens are present."

Many times, I have gone to Starbucks to ask them about their allergen policy. Every time, I hope it will be different; but every time, they say something along the lines of "Starbucks is not suitable for someone with severe allergies". (Read Starbucks' full allergen policy here.)

4. Healthy options = many nuts

Starbucks has definitely hopped on the healthy snack trend with their packaged foods. And, while there's nothing wrong with being healthy, all of their packaged food options contain some sort of nut. From trial mix to granola bars, it is a nightmare to walk into Starbucks with a nut allergy.

5. No way to avoid cross contamination

Starbucks uses the same equipment for everything. This includes thing like steaming wands, blender pitchers, and even toasters. Cross contamination is, in my opinion, the biggest risk of going to Starbucks with a food allergy.

Considering that Starbucks is such a popular food chain, I am disappointed in how they handle allergens. Hopefully in the future they will consider adding some allergy friendly options to their menu.

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