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Allergy Issue

Our family will be traveling soon to Portugal this August. My son has a life -threatening (anaphylactic) peanut allergy. Will that be a huge concern in Portugal? For sure we'll be bringing medications such as an Epi-pen and back-up, Reactine, Benadryl and probiotics. Anything more that we should add?

Thanks in advance for your advice and suggestions!

Posted by
194 posts

Hi Gen!

I am portuguese. A life-threatening allergy is always a concern, of course, but I believe that a peanut allergy will not be a Huge concern for you while in Portugal, because we don't use peanuts very much. As I can think, we only eat peanuts with drinks, like beer. For instance, we don't use peanut butter. Of course there is peanut butter in Portugal, like there is soy (just as an example of a product that is not commonly used) but we don't have foods made with/by it. We have many sweets made with nuts and almonds, but not with peanuts. However, there is always the risk of contamination. I believe the main problem may be breakfast, as some hotels serve peanut butter.

I have some allergies (although not food allergies) so I understand your concern, but at least you will be in a Country that do not use peanuts so much as others.

I suggest (probably you already do this) that your son has with him an allert about his allergy (like a medal) and also that you advise every restaurant/cafe you go about this.

In portuguese, peanuts are "amendoins", allergic to peanuts = "alérgico a amendoins", life-threatening peanut allergy = "alergia mortal a amendoins".

If I remember something else related to your concerns I will return.

Hope you all have a great time during your hollydays!

Posted by
630 posts

I would also research and write down the location of the nearest hospitals in case of a reaction and you need something stronger than the Epi-pen. It may be a good idea to know the Portuguese words for what is going on with your son so the locals can help find a doctor/hospital quickly.

I hope you have an amazing time in Portugal. I heard it's a beautiful country, and I hope to visit it someday.

Posted by
2353 posts

Great advice here. Learn that phrase about mortal allergy for sure. Be sure and ask first everywhere you eat - make sure the server tells the kitchen - they may use a peanut product the server is not aware of.

Hopefully you have insurance for your son that covers him when traveling.

Posted by
16 posts

To Helena,

It's very reassuring to hear that peanut is not widely used in food and recipes there in Portugal. But you're right about the cross contamination risk and for sure, we'll exercise extra caution to avoid this. Good thing that my son is not allergic to tree nuts so almonds are okay for him.

Someone suggested allergy cards written in the Portuguese language to me in another forum so I'll take that advice as well.

And the Portuguese words and phrases that you shared will be extremely helpful. I'll have my son and the rest of my family memorize them by heart.

Obrigada and kind regards!

Posted by
16 posts

Thank you so much for the excellent advice, Wonderful, Pilgrim and Christi. For sure we will do our part and learn those important words and phrases by heart.

Yes, we are definitely covered for travel insurance and my son has a Medic Alert bracelet that he always wear.

We've always wanted to visit Portugal, dreaming to make a pilgrimage at Fatima as well so we hope all will go smoothly.

Obrigado, Obrigada to all of you!

Posted by
103 posts

An important question to ask is if anything has been cooked with peanut oil. That might be a Portugese phrase to have written down. Not having been to Portugal I'm guessing that olive oil more widely used in cooking, but you never know!

Posted by
16 posts

Hi Marc,

Here in Canada, peanut oil is not widely used in cooking so I do hope its the same in Portugal. You're right. Better be safe than sorry. Thanks!!

Posted by
194 posts

This is the first time I ear about peanut oil. I knew about the existence of peanut butter because of USA movies, and tried it once in a hotel in Algarve (found the taste awful!) and saw it being sold at a supermarket one time (LIDL, a german supermarket widdely spread in Portugal and that sometimes has campaigns of foreign food). I guess big supermarkets have it too, at least at the gourmet section. So, as you see, we really don't use peanut derivates. None of our recipes has anything to do with peanuts!

But... after reading this post I went to find the composition of things I have at home, by a matter of curiosity. As already told by another poster, everything must have written if they contain or were in contact with allergens. I was surprised that a chocolate has in it composition sugar, coca butter, mild, vanilla, lactose, sunflower lecithin and emulsifier, (the words lactose and milk were on bold), and then it is written, also on bold, may contain trace elements of nuts, soy, peanuts and gluten. I never though a chocolate could have been in contact with peanuts or soy!

So, one can never be too carefull!

Gen, just write here (or send pm, but I think here is the best place as another person may need it) what you need to be written in portuguese, and I can write it for you.

Posted by
16 posts

Helena,

I suppose, what I would ask the waiter/waitress or chef will something be like this:

"Do you use peanut in any of your cooking? My son has serious peanut allergy."

Just tried to make it as brief as I could as a I might have a harder time memorizing a long sentence. ;-)

And I hope I get to understand the response (if its in rapid Portuguese). Otherwise, we really have to take a crash course!

Posted by
194 posts

Almost everybody speaks English in Portugal. Waiters certainly do.

They will, for sure, be very surprised with your question, like "peanuts in food? Why would we spoil food with peanuts?"

Anyway, I think you should just take a card with you and give it to the waiter, saying:

"O meu filho tem uma alergia severa a amendoins. Pode confirmar que a comida não contém nada relacionado com amendoins, por favor?"

This means "my son has a severe allergy to peanuts. Can you please confirm that food has nothing related to peanuts?"

I don't think you can pronounce it, sorry. Our pronounce is a little strange. But they will understand you in english.

About oil: we (portuguese) use sunflower oil, that may contain a percentage of corn oil, or soy oil, to fry things. For sauces, we use olive oil. Grilled fish is always served with olive oil (a small botle at each table, in restaurants). Salads, etc, also with olive oil.

I searched all products I have at home. 3 of them acused peanuts: chocolate, my morning cereals, and other fruits like nuts (the package says they might have been in touch with peanuts). Beans, oil, ketchup, rice, pasta, olives, etc - well everything you can imagine at my kitchen is "peanut free". Your son might just decide to live in Portugal!

Posted by
16 posts

Helena, thanks for taking the time to check ingredients. I guess Portugal is the same as Canada in taking proper precautions with food allergies, especially those really serious ones. I'll be transferring that translation you wrote in a piece of card.

You never know, my son or even us might really fall in love with Portugal!

Obrigada!