Traveling to Switzerland with Food Allergies

Traveling to Switzerland with food allergies is absolutely possible! Whether it is the sound of cowbells, the story of Heidi, or skiing in the Swiss Alps, each has become synonymous with Switzerland, turning it into a popular European travel destination. For food allergy travelers, it offers plenty of grocery shopping choices, as well as decent food allergy awareness when dining out at restaurants. Switzerland is a beautiful country to experience and has unbeatable nature to explore.

Zurich city view

 

General Info & Traveling with Food Allergies

Switzerland is located in central Europe, land locked by five countries: Italy, France, Germany, Austria and the Principality of Liechtenstein

German, French, Italian, Romansh are the official languages of Switzerland.

Plan to bring translated chef cards in German, French, and Italian. If you are only going to a specific region in Switzerland that uses one of the langauges, make sure to check which one they speak.

The official currency of Switzerland is the Swiss Franc.

112 (international emergencies)

118 (fire)

117 (police)

144 (medical/ambulance)

Traveling to Switzerland

Zurich has the largest international airport in the country and flying there with food allergies is simple because of the excellent grocery store selection at the airport. Additionally, Zurich is also a great jumping off point in Europe, and many use it as that. From Philadelphia, the only direct flight option is on American Airlines. To read more on how I handle flying with food allergies go here.

How to get around Switzerland

The transportation system in Switzerland is very comprehensive. Consequently, almost anywhere can be reached by train or bus, including to towns in the Alps. There are also ferry boats that run in rivers and lakes throughout the country and cable cars or funiculars to reach higher areas of elevation. Taxis and Uber are also available.

Swiss Cuisine and Food Allergies

Although each region is known for specific dishes, there are two main ingredients that are synonymous when we think of Switzerland – cheese and chocolate.

Since Switzerland has a significant farming culture, hence dairy is commonly found throughout the country. Staple foods include bread, potatoes, pasta, rice and polenta. As someone allergic to potato, the food in Switzerland may seem challenging, however I am still able to find plenty of safe options.

Common Swiss Dishes Include:

  • Muesli – Similar to a cereal which often includes oats, chopped fruit, and nuts with either milk or yogurt.
  • Zopf – Bread usually served with butter and jam.
  • Rösti – The main ingredient is potato in this dish. The potato is fried in cake form and served with cheese, onions and cold meats.
  • Fondue – Melted cheese served in a pot and eaten with bread.
  • Raclette – A personal favorite of mine. The raclette cheese is melted and then scraped off with a tool and placed on top of potato (although we use squash instead because of my potato allergy).

     

    Each canton (region) in Switzerland is known for different variations of these dishes.

Food Allergen Labeling Laws in Switzerland

Generally, Switzerland follows the EU food allergen regulations and guidelines. This means that they label for the top 14 allergens. On packaged food you will notice that these allergens are labeled in bold type, italics or in capital letters. Statements for “may contain…” should be present on packages, however if you have any questions, contact the manufacturer.

Top 14 allergens:

  1. Grains (containing gluten)
  2. Milk
  3. Eggs
  4. Fish
  5. Crustaceans
  6. Soybean
  7. Tree nuts
  8. Sesame
  9. Celery
  10. Mustard
  11. Peanuts
  12. Sulfites
  13. Lupin
  14. Mollusks

Foods that may also contain top allergens: There are some foods that may not be expected to have top allergens but that actually often do. These include foods like bakery products, sausage, spice blends, and already prepared foods.

Traveling to Switzerland with Food Allergies

This guide should help you feel prepared for traveling to Switzerland with food allergies. If you want to more food allergy travel information on visiting Zurich, please make sure to visit the Zurich food allergy travel guide below!