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  • Posted November 20, 2022

Food Allergies & Thanksgiving Dinner Can Mix, Just Follow These Tips

When loved ones come together for your Thanksgiving feast, keep in mind your those who have food allergies.

Practice safety in menu planning, food preparation and even serving, urged Courtney Cary, a senior dietitian at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. Be aware of the eight most common allergens: peanuts, tree nuts, milk, eggs, soy, wheat, fish and shellfish.

"If someone who is attending the holiday meal has an allergy to any food, it is important to fully disclose the ingredients of what you prepared so they can avoid a potentially life-threatening reaction," she said in a college news release.

Find out specifically what your guest is allergic to, Cary said. Then, to prepare their food, use separate, sterilized utensils on surfaces untouched by the allergen. Make sure the allergy-free food is served with its own utensil.

"This can even mean trading out a baking dish that has just been hand-washed that previously contained that allergen," Cary said. "Even the smallest particles of allergenic foods can cause a reaction in a person who is very sensitive or has severe reactions to foods."

In addition, a holiday meal isn't the time to start giving your child new foods.

"If your child has never had eggs, for example, the holidays are not the time to have them try key lime pie," Cary said. "You are in control of what your child eats."

If you're making some foods vegan or vegetarian to accommodate other eating styles, be aware that some of these substitutions may include an ingredient that someone else with an allergy can't eat.

"Ground flax seed mixed with water can be an egg substitution, or vegan butter can be used for dairy butter," Cary said. "There are gluten-free flours that can be used in the same ratio that typical wheat flour is used but be sure to get a full list of allergies from guests as some substitutes can also contain common allergens. Research thoroughly all ingredients you are using in a recipe to ensure they do not contain common allergens."

When considering those vegan and vegetarian friends, be aware that it's not just the chicken you'll want to avoid in food prep, Cary noted, but the chicken or beef broth, cheese, milk, butter, eggs, plus condiments such as oyster sauce, Worcestershire sauce and Caesar salad dressing, which are not vegan.

More information

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has more on food allergies.

SOURCE: Baylor College of Medicine, news release, Nov. 14, 2022

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