Wednesday, September 17

SNACKTIME when kids with food allergies visit your home

What do you do when your child's friend has serious food allergies? How do you prepare snacks and meals when kids with food allergies visit your home?

Food allergies are common—three million children, or about one in 13 kids under the age of 18, have at least one food allergy.  Your children may not have food allergies, but their friends might. Would you be able to meet the challenge and confidently serve food to children with food allergies? 

Here are some tips and guidance about food allergies and how to minimize the risk of exposure in your home.
Understanding Common Food Allergies
First of all, become familiar with the most common food allergies. This includes (but not limited to) peanuts and other nuts, seafood, such as shrimp, cow's milk, eggs, soy and wheat. Scrutinize labels for allergens.

Creating a Safe Environment to Help Avoid Potential Problems
Restrict eating to the kitchen or dining room only. Crumbs are likely to find their way onto carpets, furniture, counter-tops, toys and other surfaces. Everyone should wash their hands before and after eating to avoid the transfer of food allergens. Counter tops and tables should be scrubbed down after food preparation and after meals.  

To avoid cross contamination, make sure cutting boards, knives, slicers, spoons, measuring cups, mixing bowls and other food prep equipment (barbeque grills) are clean and free of allergens. Have separate sets of utensils for handling safe and unsafe foods.

Separate safe and unsafe food. Label either the foods with allergens or the safe ones — whichever is easier.

Beware of airborne allergens when cooking.  Keep a safe distance from the cooking area and allow the air to clear for 30 minutes afterward before entering the room. For young children, having fixed seating arrangements at the table is helpful in preventing little ones from sharing “tastes.”

Contributed by Leslie Kay-Getzinger, MS RD
Regional Dietitian for Nutrition Management Services Company 
Image Credit: DIY Health

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