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During the holiday season, our calendars fill up with a lot of social activities. More often than not, these include food. If you or a member of your family has a food allergy, these events can be more stressful than fun. Follow these tips to keep everyone safe from accidental allergic reactions.

Host the event. If you host the event, then you can make sure the food served is safe. If others want to bring contributions, recommend non-food items like paper goods.

Talk to the host in advance. Find out what foods are being served. Also find out how it will be served and if other guests are bringing dishes. Offer to bring safe dishes or help them prepare the food to prevent cross-contamination.

Educate others to prevent cross contamination. The best way to prevent food allergy reactions is to avoid accidental contact with your food allergens. Even traces can cause a severe allergic reaction, known as anaphylaxis (anna-fih-LACK-sis). Make sure everyone who prepares, handles and serves food you will eat knows these steps to prevent accidents:

  • Read food labels every time you buy a product.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water before handling food.
  • Prepare and serve safe food with separate, clean utensils and surfaces.
  • Ask about ingredients in food prepared by someone else. Ask them if you can read the labels if available.

Suggest foods from allergy-aware companies.
There are several companies that offer products free of many of the top 8 more common food allergens. Or use products from companies with trustworthy labeling and manufacturing processes. Send these recommendations along to others who are preparing or bringing food.

Practice new recipes ahead of time. Test out new recipes or substitutes before your holiday event. This will help you know ahead of time if your dish will be a success or if it needs tweaks. Visit Kids With Food Allergies’ Safe Eats® database for allergy-friendly recipes. You can search to meet your allergy needs or browse by category.

Dish up your plate first. When it’s time for everyone to plate their food, get yours or your child’s first. You can choose safe foods before they can potentially become contaminated when others start serving themselves.

Pack a special meal. If you are going to someone else’s event, bring your own single-serving special holiday meal. For kids, make it festive and holiday themed. Find out what will be served so you can make a similar meal. Pack it in a microwavable-safe plate or in an insulated bag with hot packs to keep it warm.

Suggest non-food activities. If you don’t feel comfortable at events where food is served, suggest non-food activities. There are many fun ways to celebrate during the holidays without food.

The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America wishes you and your family a safe and happy holiday season. Your gift helps provide education and support for those with asthma and allergies.


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