I nearly died again! Food allergies and trust in Taiwan!

I’ve got to control my rant so I will use the smallest amount of words and try to get to the point…

Ordered Crispy Chicken in Plumb sauce. The restaurant (at the truck stop) doesn’t even serve fish or seafood. Language problem No: Wife explained in Chinese and Taiwanese about my allergy and consequences. No Seaweed, Seafood, Fish or any of the common sauces that contain fish. All bases covered.

The meal was cooked and served. I asked the counter girl again. She did the "Do Mei You! and I looked deeply into her eyes for a hint of sincerity.

The seaweed dish on my plate should have foreshadowed what was to come. But, I have had plum chicken before and I tried to take comfort in the fact that she asked the cook.

I have a delayed yet then very severe reaction to seafood. No early warning system. I consumed the meal and it was good. Then about thirty minutes later… I can feel post nasal drip starting and knew that I would be in big trouble in about an hour… …

Got to the the emergency room in good time but it took two emergency treatments to stabilize me and I felt shitty the rest of the week.

What’s with these people. This is not the first time. But it will definitely be the last. I’m going totally veg except for McDonald’s, which has a strict separation policy, or 7-11 hotdogs, tea eggs or hot spring eggs. Everything else is off limits…

My Taiwanese friend said that they don’t lie. They just don’t understand the importance. On side of me says… OK… they are nice people… But the other side of me says “SHIT ON THAT!”

Even in Taipei 101, I had a meal, the meal was ok. They swore the soup did not contain any shrimp or seafood. I had the soup. I discovered little micro shrimp in it.
I ordered turkey rice. They said there was no fish in it. It was Turkey rice. There was shrimp in it. I don’t really get it. How can I understand what goes through these people’s head. Are they nice caring people. Yes, I see it. But then I see this side and I have a total disconnect… My logic circuits are exploding.

Man that sucks.

Is there anything you can carry with you just in case this happens, such as adrenalin phials? Maybe a sign or cell phone app saying “Does your food contain any seafood at all? Yes or No. If you tick no and I come down with an allergic reaction I will hang your balls from the nearest lampost and sue you and all of your children. Sign here if you understand.”

Based on that I do wonder if Taiwanese do have allergies to food, they certainly don’t seem to grasp the concept.

[quote=“StuartCa”]Man that sucks.

Is there anything you can carry with you just in case this happens, such as adrenalin phials? Maybe a sign or cell phone app saying “Does your food contain any seafood at all? Yes or No. If you tick no and I come down with an allergic reaction I will hang your balls from the nearest lampost and sue you and all of your children. Sign here if you understand.”

Based on that I do wonder if Taiwanese do have allergies to food, they certainly don’t seem to grasp the concept.[/quote]
Sure they do. At least in my experience. I’m severely allergic to anything with tentacles and only once have been served squid – and that was by a teenage girl who was definitely not the sharpest knife in the drawer. In my 25 years here, I’ve found that they do indeed grasp the concept. Thank god, because eating squid gives me uncontrollable tachycardia that usually requires defibrillation.

[quote=“sandman”][quote=“StuartCa”]Man that sucks.

Is there anything you can carry with you just in case this happens, such as adrenalin phials? Maybe a sign or cell phone app saying “Does your food contain any seafood at all? Yes or No. If you tick no and I come down with an allergic reaction I will hang your balls from the nearest lampost and sue you and all of your children. Sign here if you understand.”

Based on that I do wonder if Taiwanese do have allergies to food, they certainly don’t seem to grasp the concept.[/quote]
Sure they do. At least in my experience. I’m severely allergic to anything with tentacles and only once have been served squid – and that was by a teenage girl who was definitely not the sharpest knife in the drawer. In my 25 years here, I’ve found that they do indeed grasp the concept. Thank god, because eating squid gives me uncontrollable tachycardia that usually requires defibrillation.[/quote]

That’s good to hear, sounds like the OP just encountered a moron and needs to carry epinephrine just in case.

I can SO relate to you. My son almost died of a very, very sever allergy to sea food/fish of any kind just last month. I don’t normally cook or eat seafood, so I didn’t realize he had an allergy, but he was eating a lot of seafood at school. A normal allergy screen returns a number between 0 and 100 when a person is allergic; my son’s screen returned a number of over 5,900. He is very severely allergic to anyting that grew in the sea. I mean, not even canned tuna.

So now we don’t eat out at any kind of local resturant because they cook fish and other meats in the same oil. Or they use those fish pastes/sauces to flavor other dishes. I now send all his meals with him for school–and STILL have to keep re-explaining to his teachers that he MUST NOT eat the school food. His reaction was so strong that he was in hospital for two weeks and still could not talk for almost a month after comming home. I just can’t chance this again.

In fact, just the SMELL of the neighbor’s fish cooking the other day was enough to make it harder for him to breathe. We left the house for a while to give it time to clear out, and he was fine.

Good luck and God bless you!

Sorry to hear about your terrifying allergic reactions, and living in Taiwan, where seafood seems to pervade everything, certainly doesn’t help. One problem in restaurants may stem from the fact that the wait staff may know little about exactly what ingredients go into a dish, since that’s what the cook’s job is. Also, some sauces may contain traces of seafood-based ingredients that the staff are unaware of. There’s also the possibility of miscommunication; e.g. the term “fish” does not automatically include shrimp or clams.

Carrying around a piece of paper that stresses that you’re deathly allergic to ALL manner of seafood, including seaweed, sauces and garnishes, may be wise. You can always go back to restaurants you’ve had no problem eating at… keep a mental list.

Good luck!

Some good advice from Chris and others. I’d also add to avoid the little cheapy places, food trucks, biandang shops, etc. American chains (don’t hate, but it’s true), Western-owned eateries, higher end Taiwanese restaurants, and other higher end cuisine would be your best bet if you want to dine out.

In our family, we have Celiac disease, dairy intolerance, and a non-meat eater, so we’ve to be very careful about where we dine. We have a list of places that can cater to our preferences and are honest with us. You have to learn to ask what kind of oil do you use, what kind of soup base, what kind of breading, etc.

Sorry to hear about your experiences. I often wonder whether Taiwanese people are allergic to anything. Most Asians are lactose intolerant, yet milk is used in everything and only Costco carries Lactaid. I often hear TW people say, “Waiguoren bodies are not as good as east Asians. They’re all allergic to something or another.” But that’s a discussion for another day.

It’s gotta be a real tough one to deal with here. How many things get those little dried shrimp tossed in for one thing.

I think they must not get it, as they do either do not have such incidence or simply because it does not permeate their brain because they have never received education on these matters. They may be able to recite all the emperors for the last 400 years, yet do not know how fragile babies are or that something like a speck of shirmp carcass might kill someone.

Just last night I was talking to a French guy who live sin Xindian, and he was telling me how difficult it is for him to eat here as he’s allergic to gluten, and since Taiwanese do not have this problem, they do not offer products labeled gluten-free, and often, when he buys stuiff that is supposed to be gluten free, it still contains speaks of wheat -which he sometimes can pick out carefully.

:astonished: Poor fella. That must be hard for you and him. I had a friend with a sever peanut allergy which could potentially kill him and he got served dishes where people swore that it didn’t contain peanuts - in the U.K.

I think people find it hard to understand the severity of it, so they just assume. Must be so frustrating to have a food allergy.

Taiwanese people are probably allergic to all sorts of stuff. They just never bother screening for it because it’s not on their health radar. My SO got an allergy check after getting fed up with digestive problems. Turned out she was allergic to wheat, milk, and various other odds and ends. After eliminating those, she now feels a lot better. Thing is, she had to ASK for the allergy check. The doctor was just going through the standard procedure of “Try this pill”. Ah, doesn’t work. “OK, try this pill”.

Possibly people here never get detected as seriously allergic to anything (as in: I-will-die allergic) because as small children they are inadvertently fed something fatal. The doctor presumably writes the universal diagnosis (感冒了) on the death certificate. Nobody ever reaches adulthood with a serious allergy and the medical profession is unaware of its prevalence.

People here are generally allergic to different things. If there was an allergy to fish in your family in Taiwan , just like Finley said, you wouldn’t have lasted long. Asians tend to be allergic to dairy products more. Gluten containing products less so. On the other hand Italians and Spanish have a high incidence of gluten allergies.

People here are pretty chabuduo, it’s a mix of don’t care, don’t know, little lie, big lie. Mainly they tell you what you want to hear and what they think makes life easier. Often it they don’t know they will tell you something quickly instead of checking it themselves. Sometimes they just don’t understand the question. The priority in most cases is doing business. Try buying products for young children, they will make the sale to you whether it is appropriate or not.

I guess it’s a case of buyer beware.

I think sometimes I just trully doesn’t register. I have to keep talking to my son’s teacher because she has concerns about the nutrituioal soundness of his “American” lunches. (Usually ham sandwiches or home made mexican food, and fruit.) It’s just foreign to her, and she can’t get her head around the fact that, nutritional or not, the fish will KILL him while the sandwich will not. This is my issue. He can eat black beans and rice all day long. Hell, he could eat chips and soda for lunch and it would be fine with me at this point–as long as his lunch isn’t going to kill him, I’m a happy mom!

[quote=“Taiwan_Student”]I’ve got to control my rant so I will use the smallest amount of words and try to get to the point…

Ordered Crispy Chicken in Plumb sauce. The restaurant (at the truck stop) doesn’t even serve fish or seafood. Language problem No: Wife explained in Chinese and Taiwanese about my allergy and consequences. No Seaweed, Seafood, Fish or any of the common sauces that contain fish. All bases covered.

The meal was cooked and served. I asked the counter girl again. She did the "Do Mei You! and I looked deeply into her eyes for a hint of sincerity.

The seaweed dish on my plate should have foreshadowed what was to come. But, I have had plum chicken before and I tried to take comfort in the fact that she asked the cook.

I have a delayed yet then very severe reaction to seafood. No early warning system. I consumed the meal and it was good. Then about thirty minutes later… I can feel post nasal drip starting and knew that I would be in big trouble in about an hour… …

Got to the the emergency room in good time but it took two emergency treatments to stabilize me and I felt shitty the rest of the week.

What’s with these people. This is not the first time. But it will definitely be the last. I’m going totally veg except for McDonald’s, which has a strict separation policy, or 7-11 hotdogs, tea eggs or hot spring eggs. Everything else is off limits…

My Taiwanese friend said that they don’t lie. They just don’t understand the importance. On side of me says… OK… they are nice people… But the other side of me says “SHIT ON THAT!”

Even in Taipei 101, I had a meal, the meal was ok. They swore the soup did not contain any shrimp or seafood. I had the soup. I discovered little micro shrimp in it.
I ordered turkey rice. They said there was no fish in it. It was Turkey rice. There was shrimp in it. I don’t really get it. How can I understand what goes through these people’s head. Are they nice caring people. Yes, I see it. But then I see this side and I have a total disconnect… My logic circuits are exploding.[/quote]

Go back and explain how you nearly died and are sending them a letter of demand for compensation of some absurd amount.

And bring a news camera with you.

I remember something like this during college. A guy with a severe peanut allergy died after eating at a newly-opened Chinese restaurant. He had informed the waiter and the kitchen staff of his condition and received assurances before digging in. Turned out it was all cooked in peanut oil and he went into anaphylactic shock. Restaurant closed shortly afterwards.

If you have a condition where eating the wrong kind of food might kill you, you really shouldn’t be eating out without an “antidote” within reach. The guy thought he had made it crystal clear to the restaurant staff that he can’t touch the stuff, but the problem was he assumed they gave a crap.

Indeed, from rice over veggies, soups to actually anything that comes to mind.

My wife is allergic to only one thing, not seafood but river shrimp like the ones they sell in Wulai.

BTW, most ‘modern’ allergies comes from a too clean environment, it’s proven that kids that lack a dirty environment to play in are having more allergies than those rats that play outside in the cow shit … they build a proper immune system. So, now doctors are introducing ‘dirt’ to strengthen the immune system of allergic children.

Because Taiwan is not one of the cleanest there are few allergic people here. I’ve never heard of friends telling me their kids are allergic to anything, peanuts, seafood or anything.

Agreed[Taigottawanna ]. The only sure method to deal with such a reaction is to prepare food and cook it yourself. We must not “expect” others to understand or appreciate our conditions. Restauranteurs are not scientists, or doctors, and often have limited understanding of foods and their effects on humans.
I, for one would not attempt to hold a chef responsible for my health, unless he or she were knowledgeably acting against my health when understanding of my condition, or in other words, doing me harm on purpose. The same goes for the health of my family.
When it comes to health, I don’t automatically assume anyone has a better understanding of my body than me, and especially those who don’t study the effects of chemicals on the human body, such as the majority of chefs.

I work with cars, and I would neither hold a mechanic responsible for a faulty component which they fitted, unless they fitted it in the knowing that it would fail and result in a dangerous circumstance.

I think that most people will find that other people don’t usually act with malice towards oneself, unless with reason.

[quote=“Icon”]I think they must not get it, as they do either do not have such incidence or simply because it does not permeate their brain because they have never received education on these matters. They may be able to recite all the emperors for the last 400 years, yet do not know how fragile babies are or that something like a speck of shirmp carcass might kill someone.

Just last night I was talking to a French guy who live sin Xindian, and he was telling me how difficult it is for him to eat here as he’s allergic to gluten, and since Taiwanese do not have this problem, they do not offer products labeled gluten-free, and often, when he buys stuiff that is supposed to be gluten free, it still contains speaks of wheat -which he sometimes can pick out carefully.[/quote]

Taiwanese eat lot’s of gluten, especially vegetarians …

That’s not an allergy, that’s an intolerance, difficulty to digest …

And …

Fair enough, dairy intolerance is something else entirely.
However the point about Western medicine causing problems should not be ignored.