NORTH COUNTY – Entertaining a crowd or accommodating diners with various dietary restrictions nowadays may mean more than simply having a vegetarian alternative or clearly marking products the include peanut products. Food and beverage allergies vary, and some people steer clear of certain foods not because they have made a lifestyle choice, but because their health depends on it. As a result, party hosts and restaurant owners should be mindful of any food restrictions and try to be as accommodating as possible.
The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America reports that approximately six percent of allergy sufferers have food allergies as their primary allergy. The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology offers similar findings while noting that 38.7 percent of food-allergic children have a history of severe reactions. Milk, soy, eggs, wheat, tree nuts, fish, and shellfish are the foods most likely to cause a reaction among food allergy sufferers.
Each year allergies account for millions of outpatient office visits and hospitalizations. For some, allergies may be so severe that they result in extreme swelling and anaphylaxis. To ensure that dinner guests are not subject to uncomfortable or potentially fatal reactions, be sure to take into consideration food restrictions when designing a menu, preparing a meal, and consider the following tips when addressing allergy sufferers:
Speak to guests. The best way to understand the food restrictions of a guest is to ask them if they have any such restrictions. Some guests may only eat kosher foods while others may have a gluten intolerance. Knowing what their limitations on enable menu suggestions to be made, or dinner menus to be planned in accordance.
Read labels carefully. Certain foods, especially pre-made items, may be hiding certain ingredients that can be dangerous to those with a food allergy or a dietary restriction. Foods that contain gelatin may be inappropriate for those on a vegetarian or vegan diet. Some items that are wheat-free may be produced in factories that also process wheat products. You have to be careful with all foods you offer or serve.
Label foods and menu items clearly. Those with food allergies will usually shy away from items they can’t easily recognize. Attach tags to buffet-style items that indicate their ingredients so guests with dietary restrictions can still enjoy a good meal like everyone else. Using indicators on a restaurant menu is appreciated by
Prepare foods separately. When cooking, be mindful of cross-contamination of products. If you will be preparing something with a known allergen, such as dairy or wheat, keep it separate from other foods and do not use mixing bowls or spoons for the different foods.
It may take some extra effort, but making guests who have dietary restrictions feel comfortable at a restaurant or private party that are compatible with their personal diets.