Category: Travel Tools

5 Reasons Allergy Communication Cards Keep You Safe & Healthy

Written by Tamara Green


You are travelling in Europe. This is it; your dream vacation and you want to enjoy the authentic Italian cuisine just like the natives do. But there is one tiny problem, you don’t speak the language, not an iota. It is okay though thousands of tourists order food from foreign countries every minute, every second and they don’t know the language either. But there is another tiny problem, actually a very big problem, you have dietary restrictions.


Now what, how do you tell your waiter/ess that you need gluten-free pasta? I mean how do you really break the language barrier to communicate the severity, the intensity of your reaction?


“What seems so simple in communicating your dietary restrictions, is unfortunately complicated.”


I had the pleasure of interviewing Kyle Dine, CEO Equal Eats (formerly “Allergy Transitions), Kingston this weekend. We agree hardily of the point of “what seems so simple in communicating your dietary restrictions, is unfortunately complicated.”


While I have been a professional chef for less than a decade, many a seasoned chef (a little pun) has asked me why everyone has allergies all of the sudden. To a chef who just wants to cook how he has always cooked, allergies may seem like a hip fad for picky eaters. There is a lot more to it.

“A dietary communication card can help convey a serious message in a credible, detailed and memorable way, reducing the chance of information falling through the cracks in busy foodservice settings.” Mr. Dine commented.


If you read my post Dining Out: Tips for Safely Staying Gluten-Free you will know I recommend allergy cards as the number #1 method of assuring a safe and satisfying meal out on the town.


Allergy cards don’t replace verbal communication with your server, however, from Kyle Dine’s experiences, from my own experiences, solely relying on verbal communication does not produce effect results.


Kyle Dine elaborated on this point, “Often it comes down to a game of food allergy broken telephone. When we looked at the statistics such as over three quarters of adults having allergic reactions when dining out, or oven 90% experiencing anxiety when eating outside the home, we can’t help but wonder if there could be a better way to stay safe and enjoy food. Dietary communication cards can add another layer of protection.”


Mr. Dine has a vested interest in these cards, he has had food allergies since the ‘80s. More than that his wife has celiac disease. Seeing the personal need for dietary communication cards within his own home, CEO Dine made the leap to launching Equal Eats, reasoning they weren’t the only dietary restricted persons in the world. They felt like they cannot simply enjoy food like everyone else, especially when travelling; that means that others and experiencing the same feelings, relating over the same need.


About Equal Eats Cards

Since 2006, Mr. Dine has been providing a solution to those feelings, that need through this company Equal Eats, originally “Allergy Translations.”


The impact has been affirming, fulfilling. “Many grateful families have shared how our products have provided peace of mind when travelling, and for some, it was the catalyst for even booking the ticket to go.” Reports Kyle Dine. “Travelling should be enjoyable, and we try to help make it easier for people with dietary restrictions to have less stress and worry, so they can experience more joy abroad.”


Okay, so maybe you’ve read this far and are saying, “Okay this sounds great but I am not planning on travelling abroad anytime soon.” If that is you, I get it, I am not planning any trips either. But get this important point, this freeing point for the dietary restricted: allergy communication cards are usefully locally too!


Kyle Dine and I both have six allergens so I feel like he is speaking for both of us when he said (referencing his allergens), “I don’t expect any server to remember them, nor write them down 100% accurately unless they really make an attempt. Often, they think my peanut and tree nut allergy are one in the same, and [that] sets up a potential erroneous chain of communication. A dietary card lays out the exact allergy/avoidances so the necessary information can be given to the kitchen staff. I don’t like feeling like a burden when dining out, and I feel my card actually makes their jobs easier – they truly appreciate the cards!”


Yes, Mr. Dine we (in the biz) truly do appreciate them.


Restaurants are busy places, your cooks are making ten, twenty meals all at once. Your server is handling five, ten tables each with two, five people seated. Take it from me, a cook, it is a struggle just to remember ingredients in a normal dish when the dining room is buzzing. When you start adding special requests, dietary restrictions your routine gets messed up, your memory forms gaps and that can lead to flukes causing allergic reactions.


The cross-contact message on Equal Eats cards provided and particularly beneficial facet as many wait staff and cooks are still very allergy illiterate. On their digital card pages they feature info on accidental contamination as well as helpful links to training resources.


I was really curious about the translation aspect of the cards. I my mind I imagined some stranger, dropping words into Google translate and presto you have a translation! I am relieved, encouraged that is not how Mr. Dine’s team operated. First of all, it is a team, not just one man who creates your card. Secondly it is a team of professionals.


“We hire outstanding translations agencies, then do a full proofread of all translations.” Kyle Dine continued highlighting this fact, “What sets Equal Eats apart, is that we do a full second proofread with native speakers to make sure nothing is missed, and that the translations work for everyday speakers [not just the academic].”


On their website,, they offer multiple formats: physical and digital. Digital based on a QR code system; offers you access to vastly more info, constantly updated info, than can fit on a business card physical card. The physical on the other hand carry a sense of seriousness about them and workers take note of.


For more information and chance to ask personalized questions of the service, I encourage you to visit

INSTAGRAM: @equal_eats



  1. A dietary communication card can help convey a serious message in a credible, detailed and memorable way.
  2. They reduce the chance of information falling through the cracks in busy foodservice settings.
  3. They provided peace of mind when travelling, and for some, it was the catalyst for even booking the ticket to go.
  4. A dietary card lays out the exact allergy/avoidances so the necessary information can be given to the kitchen staff.
  5. The cross-contact message on Equal Eats cards provided and particularly beneficial facet as many wait staff and cooks are still very allergy illiterate.
  6. Equal Eats hires outstanding translations agencies, then do a full proofread of all translations by native speakers.

Food Allergy Sticky Notes – Now $5/pad

We are happy to announce the new price for our popular food allergy sticky notes is $5/pad. With 50 sheets per pad, this accounts to $0.10/sheet. It’s a bargain when you think of the number of people you can remind about severe food allergies with one simple sticky note. Whether you use it for teachers, caregivers, relatives, coaches or others, we hope that they will help you and your family stay safe.

The Process behind the Products

After operating for years as “Allergy Translation”, it’s a real thrill to relaunch our company and products under the “Equal Eats” banner. It was definitely time for refresh and upgrade absolutely everything. I’m really excited to share more about our future vision of how we can help people with food allergy and dietary restrictions eat safely at home and away.

I am really proud of our new product offering, specifically:

  • 36 pre-set cards
  • 500 allergens available for customized cards
  • 50 languages

As much as I am proud of these products, it’s the process that went into them that truly sets them above and beyond in terms of clarity, effectiveness and accuracy.

In total, we had around 1,700 words that needed to translated. Did we use Google Translate? Absolutely not. My food allergies are life-threatening and I take them incredibly seriously. I would never have full peace of mind by putting my life in the hands of  an automated online translator. But before I hired a top-notch translation company, there were many other steps needed first:

Step 1 – Research

I surveyed my existing customers and learned so much valuable information on what they would like to see included on their dream allergy translation card.

Step 2 – Assemble the team

I started an “A-Team” consisting of customers, trusted advisors and others who wanted to provide higher level feedback as the project rolled on. These people are the true reason why the cards are what they are. We debated on big things, and the very smallest details. It helped me realize that there is no black and white “right way” to convey things that will satisfy everyone, but we can create something that is the most effective in all settings, for most people.

Step 3 – Prototyping & feedback

Many versions of the translation cards were created with the help of a professional product designer. Receiving feedback was enlightening as we found customers and foodservice industry workers met in the middle on a lot of things, but with a clear priority to focus on essential information.

Step 4 – Finalize in English

Once we had the overall design ready, we needed to finalize the message to a tee. We did another survey where we sought input from people with various dietary restrictions to help ensure we didn’t miss a thing. We learned so much at this stage about the concerns of people with specific allergies, and other diets. After countless revisions and approvals, we finally nailed down the overall language. This was then reviewed by a professional editor to smooth out any communication issues.

Step 5 – Professional Translations

Finally, right! That’s how we felt too after months and months of planning and prototyping. We used a professional translation agency and deliberately ordered their “premium” service to ensure top accuracy.

Step 6 – Professional Proofreading

As part of the premium service, a professional proofreader verified the accuracy of all translations for each of the 50 languages orderd.

CROSSROAD ALERT – at this point, many people would be satisfied with the accuracy of the cards. Given that these products are being used to convey life-threatening food allergies, I decided to add in a few more steps to be safe.

Step 7 – Review by native language speakers

I tapped into an incredible network within the food allergy community that volunteered to review the translations for their native language. I loved working with people from all over the world who truly “get” food allergies, and have a first-hand grip on the true everyday spoken language. They found that the translations were fantastic, but could be smoothed out even further to ensure that they are understood in more places. Some thought language needed to be simplified, or expanded upon. It was an incredible team of caring people who I am forever thankful to.

Step 8 – Professional proofreading (again)

This was a classic “Hey….it’s me again…” email where I’m certain they thought this project was over. As much as I trust my native speaking reviewers, I wanted to have a professional simply double check that these recommendations are in fact accurate. They happily obliged (amazing customer service!) and mostly agreed on everything. I was put in the middle of a couple proofreader vs. native speaker debates, and we managed to find optimal solutions.

Step 9 – Layout

Now that the translations were accurate and complete, it was time to start laying out the pre-set cards. I am simply not capable of laying out certain languages with unfamiliar characters and line breaks (picture a steady row of Asian characters, would you know where to press “enter” for a line break that also doesn’t alter the meaning? Me either!) So, I hired a team of native language speaking Photoshop experts to lay out the cards in their respective languages. This step ensured the overall readability and clarity of the cards.

Step 10 – Layout review

I also asked the native language speaking volunteers to review the layout of the cards to ensure the information was in fact entered correctly. This was a formality, but unsurfaced a few small corrections. At this point, we felt incredibly confident about the accuracy of the cards and that the process was well worth it.

Even though we went through this lengthy process and believe we’ve created a gold standard in dietary communication cards, we have an ongoing commitment to improving our cards. If you ever have ideas or suggestions to improve them, please reach out!

It feels good to know that we’ve gone through a process that truly brings both sides of the product into consideration – the user and the foodservice industry. Often these tools have been one-sided in the past. It’s important that you are speaking the foodservice language, and if abroad, in their language! We placed equal weight on both sides in terms of what people want to convey, and what the industry needs to hear.

Now that’s a team!

We’re proud of our products.

We’re proud of our process.

We’re proud of the people that made it all happen.

Kyle Dine Equal Eats

Kyle Dine
Equal Eats

Allergy Travels Facebook Group

If you’re not already a member of the Allergy Travels Facebook group, we highly recommend it! It is a-buzz of tips, recommendations and first hand experiences from people who have travelled all over the world with food allergies.

The format is simple. If you are browsing, just find a tag for a place you are planning to visit (e.g. Greece). Then simply read all of the posts and comments to get incredible insight on what it is like traveling there with a food allergy.

You can also ask for recommendations specific to your upcoming trip. You will receive helpful comments and advice from others who are simply willing to help.

It’s a vibrant and supportive community and we hope to see you there!

App Now Available on iOS and Android

It’s official! Our Allergy Translation App is now available for both iOS and Android devices.




With the app, you can now either:

  • Purchase your cards within the app
  • Purchase your cards from our website, and view on the app

It’s a great way to avoid using paper and just using your smartphone to show your food allergies while travelling.

As always, don’t limit your adventure!

Kyle Dine
CEO and Co-Founder


Allergy Translation App Now Available


We are very happy to announce the launch of our Allergy Translation Card App! It’s now available in iOS app store for iPhones, and will be available in the coming weeks for Android devices.

It allows you to access your previously ordered cards through your smartphone, or to purchase new ones before your next big trip.

It also features picture cards of common allergens that can be handy in addition to written translations.

We welcome your feedback on our new app! We hope it makes your travels easier when trying to have a safe and enjoyable trip!

Have a Good Food Experience While Travelling? Share It!


The most common tips you will find within articles containing advice on travelling with food allergies are plan ahead and do your research. This usually includes planning where you will stay, what food you will bring and researching things such as emergency numbers, local cuisine and allergen labelling laws.

However, have you noticed how difficult it is to plan out safe meals at allergy aware restaurants? There are sites such as Trip Advisor that give hints to whether a restaurant may truly “get it” through general reviews. Ideally, wouldn’t it be nice to know of places where someone with the exact same allergies as you ate?

This is where YoDish comes in. It’s an app currently available on iPhones that allows you to browse allergy-safe dishes based on reviews of exact and partial matches (coming soon in an upcoming update) of your allergy profile. You can also be a trailblazer and share your own experiences on YoDish to open up a world of possibilities to other allergic travellers.

Could you imagine if everyone with allergies used this app? We would have so much information at our fingertips to find out safe dishes at restaurants across the globe.

Have a good experience eating an allergy-friendly dish either at home or abroad? Be a part of a bigger community and share!

You can download YoDish at

Below are some more screen shots of this cool app.

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