If you’re the parent of a child who has food allergies-- or you will be hosting guests with food allergies--it’s important to take extra precautions. Even a trace amount of an allergen could cause a person to go into anaphylaxis – a potentially life-threatening reaction.
Here are a few tips for avoiding accidental exposures and making holiday festivities safe and stress-free:
- Communicate with the hosts
Let your hosts know about any allergy or intolerance, and exactly what you can and can’t eat, as soon as you receive the invite. Doing this ahead of time may feel awkward, but most hosts appreciate the heads-ups and are happy to make appropriate accommodations--rather than find out at party time and panic. To make it less awkward, offer to bring a few safe dishes that can be shared with all guests. This takes the pressure off the hosts.
- Modify the menu
If possible, when hosting, ask your guests about allergies and plan a menu that is void of the culprit allergen(s). Many recipes can also be modified to be allergen-friendly—a variety of egg replacements, dairy alternatives and wheat-free flours are on the market. However, to alleviate guest worries, make sure to keep all ingredient labels and recipes on hand for all foods for guests to read. If other guests are bringing foods, ask them to bring an ingredient card.
- Avoid cross contamination
Keeping food preparation areas clean is essential to prevent cross-contamination. Remember to wash all cutting boards, baking dishes, bowls, pans, utensils, and so on after every new food is prepared. Wash hands with warm water and soap when handling different ingredients. Before guests arrive, wipe down eating surfaces with sanitizing wipes. When serving, use separate knives and serving utensils for every dish. (Don’t use the same knife to cut the pecan pie that you use to cut the nut-free apple pie.) Allow guests with allergies to prepare their plates first so there is no chance of cross contamination through switching of serving utensils from other dishes.
- Be prepared--- just in case
Those with potentially severe allergic reactions should never be without an auto-injectable EpiPen.
Parents and hosts should frequently review the signs and symptoms of allergic reactions which would indicate a need to give the EpiPen.
These materials are provided to you by Blythedale Children’s Hospital and Kohl’s
Eat Well, Be Well Nutrition Outreach Program.
For more tips and information, please visit www.blythedale.org/kohls.
Blythedale Children's Hospital, through the generosity of Kohl’s Department Stores, is proud to offer Blythedale and Kohl's Eat Well, Be Well, an innovative outreach program designed to bring health and nutrition education to schools throughout Westchester and Putnam counties. Through this program, Blythedale staff members teach healthy eating habits to children by providing curricula, training and educational tools to school districts throughout the area. The program provides general nutrition guidelines to students, parents and school faculty. Blythedale Children's Hospital offers experts in nutrition and health-education to speak with local parenting groups, PTAs and school personnel.
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