Food allergies and restrictions have been the bane of every traveler’s existence since the beginning of time. While easily navigated stateside, food restrictions can often be an unwelcomed nuisance that can foil even the most carefully laid food excursions abroad—if your assignees are unprepared.
While employees with food restrictions may be nervous to relocate to a world of foreign menus and food items, there’s no reason your assignee can’t safely pick up groceries for their weekly dinners (and even a few new vocabulary words in the process!). Here are three tips for your assignees who may need to think outside the 良好 (bun).
Going to unfamiliar restaurants can be an ordeal for anyone with food allergies. Oftentimes waiters don’t know the allergen contents of food and he or she must have several conversations with the chef to make sure their food is safe for consumption. For assignees abroad, this can add even more headaches because getting translations of ingredients from waiters who may not speak fluent English can prove to be difficult.
In order to prevent misunderstandings, provide your assignees with language-learning resources prior to their departure. There’s no reason for your assignee to have to completely learn a new language prior to departure (just kidding, here’s three), but having a basic understanding of important words—especially their allergies—will be crucial for your assignee to succeed (and spend less time feeling ill).
For assignees in Portugal that may mean being able to say Estou sem glúten intolerantes (or I am gluten intolerant) or Não, realmente - estou intolerantes ao glúten (or no, really--I am gluten intolerant) to ward off those more persistent waiters. For the tricky Scandinavian languages, learning the correct pronunciation will be the true key to the safety of your assignees. Fortunately, there’s a language-learning software that provides pronunciation helpers and voice comparison technology for your assignees to perfect their accent (Hint: it’s us).
The Grocery Store
While navigating menus is important for food connoisseurs of the world, knowing how to navigate a foreign grocery store is crucial for any assignee who values a home-cooked meal. However, foreign phrases and different packaging can be difficult to interpret: lactose intolerant assignees may learn this the hard way after they first purchase wienerbrød med mælk (or pastries with milk in Denmark) at their local food market.
Offer your assignees a language-learning course before their assignment, with an option to continue during their trip, so that they can learn to recognize potentially dangerous foods. While some foods like tôm caramel Vietnamese (or Vietnamese caramelized shrimp) will spark an obvious fear in assignees with a shellfish allergy, they still don’t want to risk being fooled by a shrimp in sheep’s clothing with foreign packaging.
The good news is many common food allergies won’t be a problem abroad. While foods stateside have preservatives with hidden ingredients (think citrus and soy allergies), many destinations abroad don’t believe in preservatives, allowing your assignees to take a deep bite of relief into that delicious tartaletas de mango (or Mango tart) in Argentina.
Food restrictions don’t have to hinder your assignees experience abroad as long as they plan ahead. For more tips and tricks for your assignees, take a look at the HR Manager’s Toolkit.