Japan with a peanut allergy

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Has anyone gone to Japan with a peanut allergy? I would like any and all information that you have. What's safe, what's not? My teen daughter wants to go for her Spring break trip. She will be with an adult (teacher) for part of the time and part will be with a host family. Very nervous about this. Thanks!

By PeanutAllergy.com on Oct 18, 2015

Answer: Question of the Week: Answered!Every week, PeanutAllergy.com answers one of the questions posted in our community.Our Answer:

Thank you for reaching out to our community with your concern.

We actually answered a similar question last week, regarding travel to Aruba. As we mentioned then, visiting a foreign country with a PA child can make for a worrisome trip, no matter where you go. We can only imagine how those worries can multiply when your child is traveling without you!

However, your daughter hopes to visit a popular (and fascinating) country. Japan is regularly frequented with tourists, which makes questions such as yours quite common on our website (you can view the responses others received here and here). We also reached out to our Facebook community with your inquiry, and received some very helpful comments from fellow PA parents; you can view their responses here.

There are precautions you should take whenever you are travelling with someone with severe peanut allergies. It is widely encouraged that you have a card alerting restaurant staff of your child’s allergy information. FARE offers free "Chef Card" Templates so you can specifically explain any dietary needs and restrictions. Another, similar tool you can use is the iPhone app Allergy FT, which collects your child’s list of allergies and translates it into whichever language you choose. You daughter could also use the emoji application on her phone to convey her allergies to waiters or her host family, to clearly express her dietary restrictions despite any language barrier.

"Pure and Peanut Free" Blogger Rebecca Sherrow once said in an interview, "it’s crucial to broaden our children’s world views, and traveling is one of the best ways to do that firsthand." We hope that with this information your daughter is able to experience a new culture and still remain safe!

We hope this information is helpful. Take care!

By Nutsnonuts on Oct 18, 2015

I have been there many times with my pa/ta son. Japanese food label is somewhat same as here in us. She need to know how to read. I am japanese so I can read well. Franchised restaurants are very good with allergen. You can check on smart phone with Barcode scan or simply ask. I will not go to the small restaurant as they might not educated well about food allegen. We stop at 7-eleven as they have from sandwich to sushi and labels are good. We only fly with Japan airline. They would serve 5 allergen removed meal and 26 allergen removed meal. They also do deep cleaning the seat for you as you request. And ask front and back 3 rows not open nuts in plane. Let me know if you have more questions, I may have ansewer.

By SFMom on Oct 18, 2015

Yes! We were there with our PA daughters about 7 years ago. It was not a problem at all! The Japanese people were SO nice and SO accommodating! Our daughters are additionally allergic to soy protein (think: tofu -- oh boy!) which was actually a bigger challenge. We had allergy translation cards with us and always showed them to the restaurants, etc. They were wonderful and respectful. We had no problems at all.

Just make sure that your daughter has allergy translation cards with her (in addition to an allergy translation that she could probably find on an app for her smartphone). That way, if by chance her phone gets lost or stolen at least she still has the paper cards.

And yes, the packaged foods are labeled really well, so it's easy to buy safe packaged foods in the stores.

By DTurner on Oct 19, 2015

Hi, We have vacationed twice in Japan with our 7 year old PA son. Both times we took two different cards with us, which were very important as very few Japanese speak English. One card says that he has a severe peanut allergy and asks the kitchen to make sure there are no peanuts or peanut oil used in their cooking. The other card says that he has been exposed to peanuts, is having an anaphylactic reaction and needs medical attention immediately. We found that they do not use peanuts in their cooking very often (that doesn't mean you won't run across them, so you should still be cautious. At one cafe they handed us a closed bag of peanuts to accompany the meal... very strange as we never encountered this anywhere else). The other thing we found is that the Japanese take this very seriously. They will take the card back to their kitchen and come back to let you know if they can accommodate you. They err on the side of caution and if they were not sure, they would send us away. This only happened a couple of times since they don't usually use peanuts. If the host family understands the allergy, I am sure they will be very helpful, as this tends to be their nature. Regarding flying - you might not have a choice since this sounds like a group event; however, if you do, check out All Nippon Airways. They are absolutely amazing. They do not serve peanuts as a snack and will ask passengers surrounding you not to open peanuts (this was important as my son is extremely severe and can have a reaction with peanut dust). We always give him Zyrtec about an hour before flying, carry Epi of course, and we also carry a mask in the event someone opens a bag of peanuts on the plane. We take enough food to get us through the flight. In the past we have packed a cheese pizza for the flight...nothing to go bad, so it will last for hours. (Also snacks for while you are there, as packaging information on products is in Japanese.) United also does not serve peanuts; however, we found their service a bit unempathetic to our issue. The 7/11's have freshly packaged sandwiches (egg salad, tuna salad, ham and cheese that we didn't have a problem with.) We love Japan and have never had an issue.