Food Allergies - Schools & Restaurants – Cooking, Food, Wine & Eating Out – Expats Portugal Community Forum

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Food Allergies - Schools & Restaurants


Posts: 20
Community Member
Topic starter
(@anahawkins)
Eminent Member
Joined: 8 months ago

Hi all - 

Not sure if this question belongs here or somewhere else so apologies if I am posting in the wrong place. 

My daughter has a severe peanut and egg allergy and we are looking to move to Algarve and I want to make sure to do my homework on what her life will be like with food allergies in Portugal.

Does anyone know how schools handle food allergies? Here in the US, we can talk to the schools/chef and find safe lunch menus for her to eat when she wants at school that do not have any peanuts or egg. I am hoping we can do the same in Portugal. Also the teachers are trained in how to use an epipen and there is a nurse onsite at the schools.

Also eating out, we have found some safe options for her (not every restaurant) where we can safely order her food.

Any insight into this from this group will be very helpful. Thank you!

Ana

9 Replies

Posts: 384
Admin
(@astridff)
Active Member
Joined: 1 year ago

@ana in Australia, food allergies are common for kids too. Kids take their own lunches to school and some schools ban all kids from taking certain foods, others try to limit what kids take.

In Portugal, from my experience, the schools serve a 3-course lunch in a cafeteria-style area, but snacks for morning lunch and afternoons need to be taken by the kids themselves.

When my girls first started school here I asked the teachers if there were restrictions on what I could pack for the girls' snacks, there were no limitations. Seems food allergies here in Portugal almost don't exist, or very low. I have always been baffled and questioned why it isn't a big problem here like in some other countries.

Anyhow, my girls go to a private Portuguese school and each week they publish a "menu" where kids can choose what they will have for the following week. If your chosen school does the same, then you can perhaps choose the best meal for your daughter in advance.

Eating the school's meals aren't compulsory - some kids do take meals from home to eat. This could be another option if you are concerned.

About knowing how to use an EpiPen, I am not 100% sure. From my experience, the nurses in the school are great and I am sure they would do everything they can to help you and your daughter. 

Eating out - you will find restaurants who can help you without a doubt. We have (English) friends here with a son with gluten/celiac issues and he is usually okay in finding a meal. I think it would also be based on where you choose to live. Living in a bigger city or town you would more choices. Living rurally you may have more difficulties.

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7 Replies
Community Member
(@anahawkins)
Joined: 8 months ago

Eminent Member
Posts: 20

@astridff Thanks so much! Do you think your friends would eventually be comfortable exchanging email with me about being in Portugal with food allergic kiddos/schools/field trips/doctors/epipen/etc? 🙂

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Community Member
(@anahawkins)
Joined: 8 months ago

Eminent Member
Posts: 20

@astridff one more question on this topic - maybe your friend could mention how it is finding allergists/epipens there too? and how things work with kids on field trips with food allergies (do the schools do field trips I assume)? or even camps/school activities/birthdays/etc? 

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Admin
(@astridff)
Joined: 1 year ago

Active Member
Posts: 384

@anahawkins Hi Ana, sorry if I wasn't clear. My friend and her family live in London but travel to Portugal every holiday. They have a holiday home here. So they don't actually have experience with schools here. Sorry.

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Community Member
(@anahawkins)
Joined: 8 months ago

Eminent Member
Posts: 20

@astridff if you learn of any families in Portugal that have allergies could you keep me in mind? I’d love to talk to parents with kids with allergies in school to learn more and I am having trouble finding anyone with this experience! Thanks so much!!

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Admin
(@astridff)
Joined: 1 year ago

Active Member
Posts: 384

@anahawkins of course. You could try some of the international parent groups on Facebook too.

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Community Member
(@anahawkins)
Joined: 8 months ago

Eminent Member
Posts: 20

@astridff I have looked but haven’t found - any suggestions? I tried Portugal food allergy groups without much success! Maybe I need to do international?

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Community Member
(@anahawkins)
Joined: 8 months ago

Eminent Member
Posts: 20

@astridff and thank you 😊

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Posts: 76
Ask Our Expats Consultant
(@thomasandmatthew)
Member
Joined: 4 years ago

Sorry, only just seen this.

Whilst incidence and understanding of allergens is much less widespread here, all catering establishments (I see no exception for schools, but can't be completely certain) are obliged to publish/make available the allergen content of their food, against the 14 established categories.  Clearly, in smaller places, this is unlikely to be formalised/on the printed/handwritten menus, however in larger places, and chain-run catering, it should be readily available - it just may not be posted, and others without specific needs may be unaware.

In other words, it should be possible to get the details from a school's catering department, just as it should be possible to ask anywhere else serving food to tell you.  If they cannot, they are almost certainly not compliant with legislation in force for around 10 years.

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