Anne Munoz-Furlong, founder and chief executive officer of the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network, offers these tips for both those...
Anne Munoz-Furlong, founder and chief executive officer of the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network, offers these tips for both those suffering from food allergies and those wanting to keep friends and family safe from allergic reactions.
FOR HOSTS AND GIFT-GIVERS
• If you’re hosting a party, ask the question before the guests arrive. On the invitation, say, “If you have a food allergy, let us know.”
• Be careful of those secret ingredients. Don’t put allergens in places people don’t expect them.
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• If you use unusual or hidden ingredients, put big pieces of the allergen around. For example, if there are crushed nuts in a pie crust, leave big pieces of nuts on the outside of the food to signal there are nuts in the dessert. Or offer the information on little cards next to the food.
• Be sensitive to cross-contamination issues. For example, don’t use the same spatula to take sugar cookies off a baking pan that you used for peanut-butter cookies; it would make the sugar cookies unsafe for someone with a peanut allergy.
FOR ALLERGY SUFFERERS
• Bring something safe to eat — or eat before the gathering, then go to enjoy the social aspect.
• Avoid desserts and sauces, where hidden allergens may be lurking.
• When it comes to restaurants, choose carefully. For example, an Asian restaurant can be risky for someone with a peanut allergy because peanuts are used in so many Asian dishes.
• Call ahead during the day to see if there’s something safe to eat at the restaurant and to assess its seriousness regarding allergens.
• If there’s a mistake with your order, hold on to the original dish at the table to make sure that you’re not just given a doctored-up version of the first one. The problem is many restaurant workers — like people in general — don’t realize that a tiny amount of the wrong thing could cause a serious or even fatal reaction in someone who is allergic.
• Plan ahead so you know where the food comes from and what’s in it.
• Be ready for an allergic reaction — bring your medication with you.