Friday, December 2, 2016

Staying Allergy Free This Holiday Season

This time of year is highlighted for its fun holiday festivities.  However, the holidays can be a more complicated and dangerous time for those with food allergies.  Because of this, it is extremely important for those hosting holiday events to be aware of any allergies their guests may have in order to determine the safety of the food they are serving.  Luckily, there are a few simple ways to ensure that your guests remain unharmed.

Communication is the first step in keeping the holiday safe.  Knowing if your guests have an allergy to specific foods is the most important step.  In addition, don’t be afraid to ask questions regarding others’ food allergies if uncertain. 

Along with open communication comes menu modification.  When preparing the holiday meal, be sure to read each ingredient’s food label, looking for key words  such as “contains”, “may contain”, and “processed in a facility with.”  If the allergen is listed in the ingredient list or after these statements, don’t use that product.  Today’s grocery stores are stocked with alternative allergen-free ingredients that could prevent you from spending your holiday in the emergency room—use these products instead.  Some common household ingredients can even be used as substitutes for allergen-containing products, such as using applesauce or ground flaxseeds instead of eggs.

Another important part of keeping dishes allergen free is to prevent cross-contamination.  This is often a result of serving an allergen-containing dish and an allergen-free dish at the same time with the same utensil.  This can be avoided by designating utensils for each dish and setting any allergen-containing and allergen-free foods apart from one another.  Cleanliness within the kitchen and serving area can also prevent courses from mixing with one another.

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