As the song goes, “if the fates allow” we’ll perhaps be able to see more friends and loved ones in person this holiday season. If you are hosting any holiday guests, it can often feel like you have enough on your plate to begin with (a small holiday pun there…), before even thinking about guest dietary restrictions. However, a bit of planning can go a long way to make all of your guests feel welcome and cared for, no matter what dietary restrictions they may face due to factors like their religious affiliation, personal preference, health issues, allergies/sensitivities, etc.
More specifically here, in terms of contending with food allergies you can use these seven festive tips to better accommodate your guests with these dietary restrictions.
- Know your major allergens. 90%(!) of known allergic reactions come from 8 key foods: milk, eggs, fish, crustaceans, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, and soybeans.
- Read your labels. Food producers are required to label any foods that contain one of the “big 8” allergens. Check the label for assistance in knowing what to safely purchase.
- Avoid cross-contamination. Use clearly marked, separate utensils, cutting boards, etc. when handling foods, if there are allergens. Consider color-coding for an easy-to-identify system in your kitchen.
- Clean and sanitize your work areas and utensils after handling food allergens.
- Be sure to advise guests with food allergies on what foods to avoid. You can always label foods to assist as well.
- Keep an eye out for the signs of an allergic reaction. Symptoms can vary, but recognizing symptoms like wheezing, hives, face/tongue/lip swelling can save lives.
- The easiest thing to do is ask. Check in with guests before hosting your event if they have any allergies or food restrictions. Doing so means a great deal to guests with food allergies/restrictions, as it helps anticipate their needs and makes them feel welcome and included in the festivities.
You can learn more about many of the points above from this handy sheet from the FDA. The happiest and healthiest of holidays to you and yours from Nelson-Jameson!