If you don't know what's in it, don't eat it. Ask what's in it and keep asking until you have the information you need. If it hasn't got a label, find out what the ingredients are. The more extreme your allergic reaction, the more important this is.
Bring your own food with you. This may seem like the reverse of conventional good manners but in fact it shows consideration. It means that as far as possible you plan to join in with what others are eating, but where you can't you are not putting an extra burden on your hosts. In restaurants, try as far as possible to eat when everyone else is served. If you haven't brought your own cutlery with you and cross contamination is an issue, then it's perfectly in order to ask to wash some utensils or, in extreme circumstances, to use your fingers.
Avoid making a scene. Don't loudly refuse food or adopt an offended tone when offered something you can't eat. Nothing is gained by upsetting people. Just do what generations of guests and children have done before you and leave it on the side of the dish or hide it under your spoon.
Thank people effusively and tip as much as you are able. This is not difficult to do when someone has made the extra effort to accommodate your needs and it encourages good service in the future.
Don't go into the gory details. Who really needs to hear a detailed medical account of your condition except your doctor? Having a food allergy or intolerance doesn't make you more interesting or socially desirable. Similarly...
Avoid militant activism. This may come naturally to those with a campaigning spirit, but your efforts should be directed towards manufacturers, retailers, and organizations, not the waitress, your friends, or anyone who will listen.
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