Hosting for friends and family with food allergies – Preparing the food

Salad Raspberry

Are you hosting a holiday party and know that you will have guests with food allergies and/or sensitivities like gluten? Do you have food allergies and/or sensitivities? If you don’t, you may be nervous about preparing the food safely.

Once you have done the meal planning and grocery shopping and are ready to start prepping and making the food you make sure you pay careful attention to ingredient labels and avoid cross-contamination.

  1. Re-read ingredient labels Even if you have already read the ingredient list on items when you were in the grocery store, re-read them at least two more times before using the product. Be very very meticulous when reading over ingredients. You will want to look on each side of the package to make sure they have not listed a “may contain” label somewhere else on the package. Unfortunately, some manufacturers do not write may contain labels near the actual ingredient list. Know the ingredients. There is no “overly cautious” here. It’s important to be 100% certain that the items you use are safe for guests with food allergies. I’d recommend you keep the wrapper or box or cut out the ingredients so your guest can re-read the ingredients too. I trust friends and family to prepare food for me, however I always  re-read ingredient labels even if you are told it is safe.
  2. Be extremely cautious of cross-contamination   If you will be preparing some food which your guest is allergic or sensitive to make a plan before you start cooking of which utensils you will use for which foods. In making a plan before you start preparing and cooking, it will help you be more aware and reduce the risk that you end up using utensils that you prepared unsafe food with to prepare the allergy safe food. Make sure the cutting board is clean and the surface you plan to work on as well. I often recommend preparing the food for the guest with food allergies on plates as that surface is definitely safer than a cutting board which, especially if plastic may have residues from previous unsafe ingredients. Use your best judgement and if you are ever unsure, pick up the phone and call the guest or parent of the guest.  Communication is always key!

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