Safety is key when dining with a food allergy

Allergenic food isolated on whiteFor those with food allergies, dining out at a restaurant or at someone else’s home can bring on a slew of risks that can turn what is intended to be a relaxing experience into one filled with hidden dangers and risk. An article published by Mayo Clinic summarizes several tips that can help keep you safe.

  • Check restaurant menus online ahead of time to see if they offer allergen-free foods or to ask for a list of ingredients.
  • Ask at a restaurant if they’re willing to prepare dishes differently to accommodate food allergies, or ask your host how the food being served is prepared. Remember even if accommodations are made, cross-contamination is still possible.
  • Carry an epinephrinepen pen or other medication in case there’s an emergency.
  • Avoid eating at buffets, bakeries, potlucks or at parties with several homemade dishes where you cannot be sure of all the ingredients or how a dish was prepared.

The article also outlines a few tips for preparing food safely at home, including:

  • Read food labels as the most common allergens are usually printed below the list of ingredients on packaged foods. If you see vague terms such as “flavors” or “spices” on food labels, contact the manufacturer and ask what they are.
  • Wash cookware, glassware, dishes and utensils before and between preparing meals. For example, wash a knife you’ve used to spread peanut butter before dipping it into a jelly jar.
  • Wash your hands before and after preparing and eating food. Wipe down kitchen counters with standard household cleansers before and after preparing meals.
  • Maintain allergen-free areas including a separate refrigerator or pantry shelf for allergen-free foods. If you’re preparing different meals, prepare allergen-free meals first.

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