An allergic guest? Don’t panic!
The prospects of entertaining friends and family increase during the holiday season. But when food allergies pop up, it’s not always easy to know how to react. How can you customise meals to satisfy the special requirements of allergic people?
Here are some tips to help you entertain your an allergic guest in a hassle-free manner.
1. Stay informed
Ask your guest who’s suffering from food (or related) allergies to tell you exactly which foods (allergens) might provoke a reaction. Please note that even a trace of the allergen can trigger a severe allergic reaction. This is not a “whim”. So don’t try to camouflage even a small particle of the reaction-causing food, since the consequences could be disastrous.
2. Choose safe ingredients
An allergy is a reaction of the immune system to a food protein or an irritant such as sulphites. Health Canada has identified 10 priority foods, which are responsible for 95% of severe allergic reactions:
- Cow’s milk
- Fish, shellfish
- Nuts (almonds, hazelnuts, Brazil nuts, cashew nuts, walnuts, macadamia nuts, pine nuts, pecans, pistachios, etc.)
- Sulphites (associated more with a sensitivity)
The foodallergycanada.ca website contains the list of key words signifying the presence of the allergen in question. Make sure you check all the products used in this list.
3. Avoid contamination
Contamination occurs when a food comes into contact with the allergen, either directly or through an intermediary such as a utensil. Here are some examples:
Cutting a piece of meat on the same board as an allergenic meat without having washed the board thoroughly; Using the same spoon to stir several dishes in different pans; Using the same knife to take out jam after dipping it in the peanut butter jar, without having cleaned the knife properly (in this case the entire pot of jam is contaminated!); etc.
Be careful during mealtimes
If you have also prepared allergen-containing dishes for the other guests, start off by serving the allergic guest first, and then the other guests, to avoid any inadvertent contamination (if everyone is serving themselves in the serving dishes).
A ready made menu for you
To avoid all the hassle of preparing your meal, you may want to shop at an allergy-friendly fine food store such as FEAST (Fabulous Eats for the Allergic & Sensitive Types). They are located in Toronto, but ship Canada-wide.
If you want to cook but are stuck for ideas, take a look at our Hypotoxic Menu, which does not contain any peanuts, nuts, gluten, dairy product, seafood, sesame or soy.
- Food Allergy Canada (formerly “Anaphylaxis Canada”) for advice and services, a newsletter and above all, the list of synonyms and possible sources of main allergens.