Susan Cameron was on her way back from Germany several years ago when she collapsed at the Vancouver airport.
A couple weeks later, she awoke from an induced coma.
Cameron lives with a rare bowel disease called visceral myopathy. She is also anaphylactic to fish and seafood.
Determined to find a way to improve the dining out experience for food allergy sufferers, Cameron wanted to design a system to enhance communication between customers and restaurants.
After seven years of hard work and honing her concept, the Courtenay entrepreneur launched the FAAST system (Food Allergy Awareness Systems Technology), Wednesday at the Bamboo Garden on Cliffe Avenue. The menu is colour-coded as per five food categories: peanuts and tree nuts; fish and shellfish; wheat/gluten; milk, eggs and soy; and vegetables/fruit.
“It’s the first-ever allergy-aware restaurant,” said Cameron, who has presented her product on the Dragon’s Den.
“I think this is going to be huge. Food allergies are huge.”
Aside from restaurants, she says the system can be implemented in hospitals and schools.
Cameron has always run her own business. Years back, she opened the Nu-U fitness spa in the Comox Valley. She has also written two children’s books.
The FAAST website offers colour-coded ID cards that can be used at participating allergy-aware restaurants. Personalized cards list important information about allergies in case of an emergency.
“No one’s attempted this before,” Cameron said. “It’s been a long time coming for people with food allergies.”
She hopes senior levels of government will intervene to mandate allergy awareness in restaurants. For now, FAAST is a free service. To receive an ID card, enrol at www.faa-s-t.com.