Use Select Wisely cards to communicate allergies or a medical condition

Select Wisely  card-strongly worded

A Select Wisely card with a strongly worded message in Chinese

Travelers with food allergies who are used to questioning wait staff about ingredients will find Select Wisely laminated cards a useful communication tool. A printed card in another language or a photo of offending food can be useful in foreign countries when there may be a language barrier.

I don’t have a true allergy to MSG but this ingredient, used widely in Asian cuisine as a flavor enhancer, does affect me negatively. When traveling through Vietnam I happened across a translation for “No MSG” in my guidebook. I copied it down on a piece of paper and started showing it to waiters. The results were amazing. Most waiters in tourist areas were very familiar with this request once they understood it and I felt a lot better after reducing my MSG consumption.

Select Wisely cards

Six examples of the many Select Wisely cards that are available

Upon my return I learned of the Select Wisely company that produces a variety of laminated cards in several languages and immediately ordered a set of cards that states that I have an allergy to MSG in three languages. They are sturdy, laminated, wallet sized cards and I noticed that there is now an iPOD app available with the same information.

Select Wisely offers information on a wide variety of food and health related issues such as diabetes, asthma and more in their standard product offerings, as well as special order cards that can be customized. The list of language offerings is huge, but you’ll need to limit your selection to 3 languages per card. They have a “strongly worded” card for those who have life-threatening allergies, along with a more mild “I have an allergy” message.

This is a useful product for travelers with food or health concerns. Prices vary but standard cards are under $10 for a set of two cards. Order directly from Select Wisely at