‘I don’t want to risk dying when I eat’... Anger over nut allergy scare

Melissa had a horrible experience at a Crawley restaurant when quizzed about  her nut allergy. Melissa Wells (left) and her friend Linzi Hazell  (correct). Pic Steve Robards SR1721596 SUS-170909-043821001
Melissa had a horrible experience at a Crawley restaurant when quizzed about her nut allergy. Melissa Wells (left) and her friend Linzi Hazell (correct). Pic Steve Robards SR1721596 SUS-170909-043821001

An outraged diner who suffers from a severe nut allergy has spoken of her anger after being served a completely different meal to the one she ordered.

Melissa Wells, from Tilgate, Crawley, said she was questioned as to whether she really was allergic to nuts when she visited The Hillside Inn in Balcombe Road last month.

The 38-year-old was out to dinner with three of her friends and informed staff of the issue as she arrived. She ordered a meal she knew was safe for her to eat. However, she said what arrived ‘was a different dish altogether’.

Melissa was told the restaurant had changed the order due to her nut allergy. She refused to eat it as she didn’t know what it contained.

“I said I’m not eating this for starters as it’s not what I ordered,” she said.

“I said go and get me the manager or the chef and they refused to come out. I needed to speak to him to point out what he had done because my allergy is so severe.

“It shouldn’t have been in any way any hardship at all.”

After several conversations with members of staff she said she was then questioned as to whether she had a nut allergy at all.

“I was asked ‘have you even got an allergy?’ With that, out came my epipens,” she said.

“It’s never been like this in my life. I’m 38 now and I know what I can get and what I can’t get.”

She said the row continued and the group became very embarrassed as diners watched the argument unfold.

“It was the last thing we wanted to do, we didn’t want to draw attention to ourselves from that at all,” she added.

The four refused to finish their meals and left, spending their evening at another restaurant in town.

The Hillside Inn is run by national chain Vintage Inns.

A spokesman for the company said: “We are disappointed about the experience Miss Wells had when she visited the Hillside recently.

“We pride ourselves on delivering the very best service and therefore have taken this complaint extremely seriously and are investigating what happened.

“We understand the importance of providing accurate allergen information to our guests and will be retraining the whole team on our allergen guidance to ensure this does not happen again.”

Melissa said she wanted to raise awareness and spread the word to other restaurants about the importance of customers with severe allergies knowing what is in their food.

She said: “I am a massive foodie but I don’t want to go somewhere and risk dying when I eat.”