Allergy Inclusivity, Well Done

The Situation

1 in 13 Canadian adults face severe food allergies, while many others have mild food allergies and potentially serious medical conditions like Celiac Disease. Dining out can be risky due to unclear information. We prioritize guest safety at Prairie Dog Brewing. Inclusivity is paramount, and we go to great lengths to accommodate all guests, ensuring they can dine with confidence and without fear of allergic reactions. Our commitment to guest safety sets us apart, reflecting our core values of inclusivity and care for every individual who walks through our doors.

This image gives an example of the first page of our allergy codex -- a detailed view of which items and their ingredients and food allergens.

Get Current Allergy Details Here

See our Menu Allergy Guide for full details about our menu items, their allergens and ingredients!

Prairie Dog Brewing is 100% Nut and Seafood Free!

Mid 2019 saw an unfortunate incident where one of our team members became violently ill after another staff member brought some seafood from home and started to eat it at our bar on her lunch break. Thankfully, the team member was okay, but it made food allergies top of mind, and we decided to to everything in our power to ensure that something like that would never happen to our team members and guests again.

Immediately, we made the call to become a nut free and fish/shellfish free facility. The incredible severity that those allergens often pose, and for such a large number of people, meant it was the only way to go as an inclusive restaurant. That meant taking a thorough look through all of our menu items, recipes and ingredients and rethinking them, including even our beer and guest alcohol, which many might overlook, for example:

  • We had to replace our super-popular Caesar mix (contains shellfish) with a house-made vegan Caesar (now award-winning)
  • We had to switch brands of some liqueurs and well liquor, like our Blue Curacao and gin.
  • No more peanut butter or nut beers, either.

We also had to change our barbecue sauce recipes (no Worcestershire sauce, for example), and replace some of our merch, like soaps and beard oils, because they included nuts as ingredients. And finally, we had to start enforcing that guest birthday cakes and children’s snacks brought in by parents did not include nuts. We even went so far as to change our mouse trap bait! But this was just the first step in our plan.

Allergy warning sign for Prairie Dog Brewing - Full Colour.

Our Approach To Managing Allergy Information

Our Allergy Codex holds the answers that you seek.

Our Allergy Codex binder open on a table at Prairie Dog Brewing.

We believe that the person best suited to make a choice about what’s safe to eat is the person with the medical condition, but to make that decision, they need to be armed with accurate information. Many people ask restaurant servers to check with the kitchen if a food item contains a particular allergen, but this is risky! Most kitchens have a division of labour between the team that prepares the food items and the ones that fire and assemble your order, and they often work at different times of day, so odds are that the line cooks your server talks with are not a reliable source of allergy information. A Head Chef might be a reliable resource if they have an excellent memory for the the ingredients used in their prep recipes along with those used by their suppliers in pre-made ingredients, but many restaurants groups use off-site Executive Chefs who write the recipes, so you aren’t likely to find a 100% reliable source of allergens in most restaurants.

To avoid these issues altogether, our team have spent hundreds of hours meticulously combing through recipes and maintaining a catalogue of ingredients and allergy information as our “Allergy Codex” – a binder that we constantly refer back to anytime a guest has an allergy outside of the most common ones. If a guest wants to know if a food items contains something like cinnamon (which happens surprisingly often), we can answer that question quickly and accurately. For common allegens, we’ve also assembled a quick matrix lookup to speed up the process of finding menu items that work. See digital versions of both of these on our Allergy Guide.

Allergens On Our Website

Not only have we transferred information about the most common allergens (and a few less common ones) from our Allergy Codex onto our website as part of our menu items and other store products, but we’ve copied our entire ingredient list into the website in case you have a less common allergy or food sensitivity. When you scroll through our web store/menu, you’ll see icons representing common allergens to indicate common allergens used in their recipes. Click any food menu item title to bring up a full listing of ingredients and allergy substitution information. 

Allergen vs Trace Allergen

Because our guests have a variety of sensitivity levels to food allergens, we’ve divided allergen information into two categories — allergens and trace allergens. Whenever we list something as an “allergen”, that means we include that allergen as part of the recipe, so it may be present in higher levels (like egg or butter in a bread recipe). We list “trace allergens” in cases where foods are made with ingredients processed in facilities that also process those allergens, or where low-level cross-contamination may be possible (such as through use of our fryers). If you suffer from severe food allergies, or have a medical condition like Celiac disease, you are advised to pay close attention to trace allergens. Conversely, if you have a sensitivity or intolerance, you may have no issue consuming products that could contain trace levels of the irritant. The power is in your hands to make that decision.

Making An Order

If you have a food-related sensitivity or medical condition, inform our service staff as soon as you make your FIRST food/drink order (or include a comment for online orders), regardless of what you are ordering. This allows us to take extra precautions to prevent cross-contamination every step of the way between the kitchen, bar and your table. For example, you might order a gluten free cider without telling your server that you have a severe wheat allergy and think you’re safe, but the bartender or server could handle that glass with hands that just had beer spilled on them while they moved drinks onto trays, transferring those allergens onto your glass and fingers just before you eat with them.

How Your Allergy Gets Represented to Staff

An example of a kitchen "chit" marked with a food allergy for a guest seat.

Guests ordering food directly with a server or bartender in our dining room are associated with a “seat” in our Point of Sale system. If a guest tells us that they have a severe allergy or other food-related medical condition, we add a label to their seat that states something like “SOY ALLERGY”, in all-caps letters. Every time a server orders a drink or food item to your seat, the kitchen and bar staff will get a “chit”, or requisition slip, that includes the allergy text directly above the item being ordered, as pictured here. Therefore, no matter what you order, we always see the allergy information directly beside it, making it easy for us to catch errors or prevent cross-contamination.

What We Do Differently For Allergy Food Orders

First and foremost, allergy information on a kitchen or bar chit causes our staff to think about your order and validate that everything on it is compatible with the listed allergy. Servers take the extra step of confirming with the kitchen that they see the allergy on the order.

  1. Staff in the kitchen will create an “allergy setup” to prepare any food items that are a part of your order, including brushing and flaming portions grills where items may be cooked, getting out a dedicated set of fresh utensils for all components required to make your item.
  2. Some food items may be “fired” differently for customers with allergies to further reduce cross-contamination.
  3. Cuts of barbecue meat may be taken off a new piece of meat to assure no contamination.
  4. Expo staff, who manage food coming out of the kitchen and going out to tables, will double-check food items to ensure that they were made according to the allergy spec.
  5. Food will be run out to the dining room customer separately from other items ordered at the same table to assure that it is not confused between seats or accidentally contaminated while being transported.
  6. At the table, the server or food runner will confirm with the guest that they were the ones with the allergy before delivering the order to the seat.

With the extra steps, some allergy orders may take 5-10 minutes longer to prepare than normal.

We hope you understand the wait and appreciate what we’re doing to keep you safe. If you have any questions or comments, please let us know on social media @prairiedogbeer!

Prairie Dog® Brewing banner-style logo in orange colour. Prairie Dog is a registered trademark of Prairie Dog Brewing CANADA Inc.


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