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Don't let allergies get lost in translation

July 12, 2009|Jen Leo

Do your allergies (or your child's) make it challenging for you to travel abroad? Selectwisely.com helps liberate travelers who have food allergies and other health concerns.

What's hot: If you are a traveler who has a food allergy, you can order a translation card that lets restaurant servers and store clerks -- really, anyone who has a hand in serving you food -- know that there's an issue. The site offers cards in more than 25 languages. Its example of what it calls a "strongly worded" card shows variations of "I have a life-threatening allergy to shrimp" in the foreign language (Thai, in the example) and English with a visual aid on one side of the card. If you are allergic to nuts, that specific card will list a variety of nuts. There are also emergency cards for those who cannot eat gluten, who have diabetes or asthma, are lactose intolerant or are vegetarian. Prices for the cards vary from $6.50 to $9.50 (plus shipping), and you get two identical cards sent within one to three business days.

What's not: The helpful "Travelers Tips" page cautions travelers about which countries use potentially problematic foods in the preparations of certain foods. In Spain, for instance, ground almonds sometimes are used to replace flour in cakes; in China, peanuts might be used in dim sum and hot mustard greens. It would be better if this section were expanded with a global map so travelers could more easily find their destination and scope out any potential dilemmas.

-- Jen Leo

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