Are you concerned about hosting or attending a social event this holiday season because you, your child, another family member or guest has diagnosed food allergies? Don’t be. With careful planning, good communication and a prevention mindset, food allergies can be managed, and there is no reason why the festivities cannot be enjoyed by everybody.
– Avoid preparing and cooking safe and unsafe foods at the same time. Prepare, cook and store away safe meals, before preparing unsafe foods.
– Always read product labels and packaging. Never assume a recipe or product is safe from a particular allergen. Product ingredients change without notice.
– Always read product labels and packaging. Some products carry warnings that the contents may have been exposed to or contaminated by an allergen during processing and storage.
– Encourage family and friends to wash their hands before and after eating or handling food.
– Ensure a large packet of hand wipes/baby wipes are readily accessible for use.
– Try to keep food isolated to one area within the home e.g. verandah or dining room. Clean up thoroughly upon meal completion.
– Clean food preparation and eating areas with soap and water, commercial cleaners or commercial wipes before and after use. (Sponges and towels can be a source of allergens. Disposable methods, such as paper towels or wipes, are the safest option).
– Periodically dispose of any uneaten food, dirty plates and napkins.
– Keep unsafe foods away from safe foods when preparing, serving and storing.
– Avoid preparing and cooking safe and unsafe foods at the same time. Prepare and store away safe meals, before preparing unsafe foods.
– Label foods as safe or unsafe for children e.g. allergy safe, egg-free, “Tim friendly” food.
– Use separate serving utensils (tongs, serving spoons and forks) for each dish. Be careful not to mix up serving utensils.
– If attending a barbeque, pre-cook food, or take a barbeque liner to cook allergy safe food upon.
EDUCATION TO FAMILY AND FRIENDS
– Educate and reiterate to family and friends the serious nature of food allergy.
– Encourage family and friends to wash their hands before and after eating or handling food, and before touching children with food allergies.
– Ensure family and friends understand simply picking an allergen out of a food (e.g. removing nuts or egg from a salad) does not make the food safe.
– Encourage family and friends to keep food labels and wrappers, so you are able to check the ingredient list and determine whether particular foods are safe.
– Request that family and friends check with you (the parent of a child with food allergies) prior to giving them anything to eat or drink.
– Request food only be eaten in designated eating areas, and not be taken into children play areas.
– Teach young children to wash their hands before and after eating.
– Teach young children with food allergies not to share food, utensils or drinks.
– Teach young children with food allergies to say “no thank you” and only accept food and drinks from Mum and Dad. (It may be a good idea to buy a special lunch box or plate to put safe foods within, and to teach your child only to eat from this plate).
– Keep unsafe foods out of reach of young children with and without allergies.
– Inform children food is only to be eaten in designated eating areas, and not be taken into play areas.
– If your young child has food allergies, seat them next to or close to you at meal times. Plate food for them first, to minimise the risk of their food becoming contaminated.
– Keep Action Plans for Anaphylaxis and Allergic Reactions, and the phone numbers of local emergency services, on hand. Ensure other family members know where they are kept.
– Always keep adrenaline auto-injectors (e.g. Epipen) and any other allergy medications recommended by your doctor, on hand. Ensure other family members know where they are kept.
Hosting and attending social events
HOSTING AN EVENT
The benefit of hosting your own celebration is that you have more control over what food is being served.
Option 1: Plan to make ONLY allergy-safe foods.
– Communicate your plan with guests ahead of time.
– Determine any special dietary requirements of guests.
– Create a list of acceptable foods and other items for family and friends who wish to contribute, to contribute. E.g. beverages, ice, fruit, paper products, bonbons.
Option 2: Allow some unsafe foods.
– Communicate with guests ahead of time.
– Determine any special dietary requirements of guests.
– Have plenty of allergy safe food options available for individuals with food allergies.
– Keep food labels and ingredient lists for guests with food allergies to review.
– Put into place safety precautions to protect individuals with food allergies (listed above).
ATTENDING AN EVENT HOSTED BY SOMEBODY ELSE
Attending celebrations hosted outside of the home can be anxiety provoking for individuals who have food allergies or family members with food allergies. If you are intending to accept an invitation to an event, it is important you initiate a conversation with the host ahead of time, about the foods that will be served and any necessary safety precautions.
– You may like to offer to work with the host to create an allergy safe menu.
– You may like to offer to help the host prepare the food, and separate safe and unsafe foods (to avoid cross-contamination).
– You may like to offer to prepare and bring some allergy safe foods to share.
– The individual with food allergies may choose to eat prior to attending the event, or take along their own allergy safe food to eat.
Allergy friendly foods and recipes
There are many food allergy friendly cook books and resources now available. The Australian Allergy Centre recommends:
YUM!: TOP TIPS FOR FEEDING BABIES AND KIDS WITH ALLERGIES
YUM!: Top tips for feeding babies and kids with allergies, is an evidence-based, child-focused, allergy cookbook, written by allergy and nutrition experts from the Children’s Hospital at Westmead, in Sydney. The first cookbook of its kind, YUM! contains:
– 100 easy-to-follow, healthy and nutritionally-balanced recipes, excluding all the major allergens (cow’s milk, dairy, egg, peanut, tree nut, soy and wheat).
– Facts about allergies and anaphylaxis.
– Tips for caring for a child with a food allergy.
– Tips for how to grocery shop for somebody with a food allergy.
– Strategies for preventing cross-contamination when preparing food at home.
– Strategies for eating out, attending special events and hosting parties.
FRIENDLY FOOD: THE ESSENTIAL GUIDE TO AVOIDING ALLERGIES, ADDITIVES AND PROBLEM CHEMICALS.
Written by leading allergy experts from the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney, Friendly Food is an essential resource in the kitchen for people suffering from food allergy or food intolerance symptoms. Friendly Food contains over 250 pages of:
– Information about food allergies, food intolerance.
– Information about naturally occurring food chemicals (salicylates, amines and MSG) and food additives.
– Recipes for all lifestyles, ages and occasions.
– Recipes which are dairy, egg, nut, gluten and/or soy free.
– Recipe rated according to natural chemical content.
– Information about recipe variations and substitutes for allergenic foods.
ALLERGY FRIENDLY FOODS AUSTRALIA
Allergy Friendly Foods is a fantastic resource for Australians with specialty diets. Shop and cook with confidence!
– Purchase allergy-friendly food products online.
– All food products for purchase are gluten, dairy, soy, nut, egg, fish, shellfish AND wheat free.
– Access great-tasting, allergy friendly recipes for FREE.