- Understand and respect guests with food allergies, by fully disclosing the ingredients of the meal. This includes the eight most commonly recognized allergens: peanuts, tree nuts, milk, eggs, soy, wheat, fish, and shellfish.
- Ensure proper precautions while preparing allergy-free food by using different, sterilized utensils and surfaces that haven’t come into contact with the allergen. Also, consider using specific serveware to avoid contamination.
- Avoid introducing new foods to children during a holiday meal, due to the potential for encountering unfamiliar allergens.
- When accommodating dieting preferences like veganism or vegetarianism, ensure your food replacements do not contain potential allergens. Thorough research of all ingredients is crucial.
- Vegans and vegetarians avoid ingredients beyond meat, which includes certain broths, dairy products, eggs, and some condiments. It’s recommended to thoroughly review food preparation practices to limit inadvertent allergen exposure.
Hosting a Thanksgiving feast can be a delightful way to gather loved ones. However, if your guests have food allergies, there are crucial steps to consider during your menu planning, preparation, and serving process.
According to Courtney Cary, a top-tier dietitian at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, it’s crucial to understand and respect those who deal with food allergies, especially considering the eight most commonly recognized allergens: peanuts, tree nuts, milk, eggs, soy, wheat, fish, and shellfish.
Ingredient Disclosure is Vital
“When preparing your feast, remember to fully disclose your meal’s ingredients if someone has a known allergy. This way, they can circumvent any potentially precarious reactions,” advises Cary. It’s essential to ensure everyone at the table can comfortably and safely enjoy the meal.
Preparation is Prime
When preparing allergy-free food, it’s best to use different, sterilized utensils and surfaces that haven’t come into contact with the allergen. This level of thoroughness extends to serveware as well, making sure each dish is served with its own allergen-free utensil. Even residual remnants of allergenic foods can trigger reactions in those who are exceptionally sensitive, Cary explains.
Considerations for New Foods
“Introducing new foods to your child during a holiday meal might not be the best idea,” warns Cary. Various factors can make the holidays a subpar time for your child to sample foods for the first time, such as the complexity of dishes or the potential for encountering unfamiliar allergens.
Plan for Dietary Restrictions
Should you opt to include vegan or vegetarian dishes in your menu to accommodate different dieting preferences, ensure your substitutions do not contain potential allergens. Cary suggests alternatives like ground flax seeds mixed with water as an egg substitute, or vegan butter as a dairy alternative. However, Cary emphasizes the importance of thorough research regarding all ingredients used in recipes, as some food substitutes may unknowingly contain allergens.
Being Allergy-Sensitive towards Vegans and Vegetarians
Vegans and vegetarians avoid more than just meat. Other non-vegan or non-veg ingredients include chicken or beef broth, cheese, milk, butter, eggs, and condiments like oyster sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and Caesar salad dressing. Cary urges a comprehensive review of food preparation to limit inadvertent allergen exposure.
For additional guidance, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration offers useful insights on food allergies, which can be accessed here.
Information presented is based on a press release by Baylor College of Medicine, November 2022.