Thanksgiving is just around the corner - a time when family and friends commonly get together for feasting. People with food allergies can benefit from the following tips to stay safe during gatherings:
- Planning ahead: a conversation between host and guest(s) about food allergens and ingredients planned for the meal can be helpful in preventing accidental food allergy reaction.
- If you have a food allergy, always carry an up-to-date epinephrine autoinjector to use in case of accidental ingestion leading to a systemic allergic reaction (anaphylaxis).
- Consider bringing your own safe food/meal/snacks, utensils, and plates/bowls/containers to the gathering if avoidance of a food allergen cannot be reasonably guaranteed.
- Do some research on common ingredients used in Thanksgiving foods that could be a food allergen. Examples include: pecan or walnut nuts used in desserts like pies, specially prepared vegetable dishes or stuffing that can contain non-obvious ingredients like cow's milk and egg, sauces and bread/pastry washes that can contain egg/cow's milk, soy in basting liquids, grains like wheat in gravy/dressings. Foodallergy.org (website for Food Allergy Research & Education = FARE) is a great website for learning much of this information and more about food allergies.
- Food preparers should try and hold on to or take a photo of any ingredients labels, to be able to share the information with guests and also because this information can be useful if an accidental food reaction were to occur.
- Everyone should wash hands before and after handling food, preparing food, and consuming foods--this will reduce risk of cross-contact of food allergens as well as reduce transmission of bacteria and viruses.