Published: 08:53, 08 October 2019
| Updated: 12:36, 08 October 2019
The boss of a Kent charity has lambasted a fast food chain after its staff allegedly refused to read a list of ingredients to a blind woman who suffers with a nut allergy.
Medina Hall, 57, from Lyminge, popped into Burger King in Folkestone town centre last Thursday to kill time until her bus arrived.
She usually orders a cheeseburger or chicken strips with a coffee from the Bouverie Place restaurant but fancied a sweet treat instead.
Miss Hall, who has congenital cataract glaucoma, decided to order a brownie, but due to her nut allergy asked staff if they could read her the ingredients included.
But she says staff told her they could give her a menu but due to company policy customers had to read it themselves.
She said: "The manager stepped in and said the server could not read it to me, in case I sued.
"I was shocked - given all the media coverage over the last 18 months about allergies you think they would want to help.
"I just needed to know if it contained nuts, I didn't want the whole list even.
"I walked away with nothing in the end."
Now, Eithne Rynne, chief executive of Kent Association for the Blind, has hit out at the branch, accusing it of 'restricting' Miss Hall's quality of life.
And going forward, she suggests restaurants provide a variety of menus for their customers, such as in Braille or audio formats.
Ms Rynne said: "We are truly saddened to hear about Medina’s ill-treatment at Burger King.
"It is everybody’s right to be well informed when making any type of purchase.
"Whether it's knowing the ingredients in their food or understanding the refund policy. If you cannot read information, for whatever reason, then it is down to the supplier to ensure they can.
"There are already too many obstacles for people with sight impairments in the world and it’s making their life more difficult than it already is.
"Burger King should have provided their menu and allergy advice in a range of accessible formats, such as Braille, large print and audio.
"The very least, the staff should have been more helpful by reading out the information to Medina.
"This sort of behaviour is impeding a person’s quality of life and restricting what they can do."
Miss Hall, who was born without sight, is legally registered blind and uses a cane when out and about.
If she eats nuts she can suffer a major asthma attack and end up in hospital.
She says she would support the move to provide a wider range of menus in restaurants.
"If you cannot read information, for whatever reason, then it is down to the supplier to ensure they can..." - Eithne Rynne
Miss Hall, who previously worked at the Marsh Academy, said: "Usually when I go shopping people are very helpful.
"Assistants in Sainsbury's will read ingredients for me.
"But with today's technology these places could even provide an app for this - all visually impaired people could then access it through their phones. Plus it would save time in restaurants."
Miss Hall said she wanted to speak out in case this happens to someone else: "I'm not doing this because I'm blind; there's a lot more people out there who wouldn't speak up so I'm doing it for them.
"I want to raise awareness, educate people and promote more understanding."
Ms Rynne added: "Providing information in different formats is good practice. Kent Association for the Blind’s transcription services can arrange for any document to be made into a different format."
A Burger King spokesman said: "We would firstly like to apologise to Medina, her experience this week is not reflective of the high standards we would expect within any of our restaurants.
"Everyone should have an enjoyable experience when they visit us and we are looking into this matter further."
He added: "I can also confirm that there is no such policy to refrain from reading allergen information to visually-impaired customers."