NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — With 1 in 13 children in the United States living with a life-threatening food allergy, more and more people are looking for ways to include family and friends with food allergies in their party planning.
According to Chrissy Khachane, an educational consultant and parenting coach, the eight foods responsible for the most allergic reactions include milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, peanuts, tree nuts soy, and wheat.
Here are a few tips for keeping a BBQ or summer celebration safe and inclusive:
Plan ahead by asking guests to notify you of any allergies or intolerances in advance (consider including this as part of the RSVP). Every family has a different comfort zone when it comes to approaching parties so a great place to start is to ask if the guest prefers to bring a safe treat, snack, or meal or if they are comfortable with the host providing the safe food item. If the party includes children consider inviting the parent of the child to stay or at the very least have someone in attendance who is familiar with administering an epinephrine auto-injector.
During the Party
There are a couple of simple strategies for keeping guests safe during the celebration. The first is to make a point to remind all guests to wash their hands before and after eating. If washing is a challenge (due to space or number of guests) consider providing baby wipes as an alternative to washing with soap. (*It is important to know that hand sanitizer does not remove an allergen from hands or a surface.). Some other helpful tips include:
- Provide labels or markers to write names on cups to prevent mix-ups.
- If you know a dish contain an allergen include a label that indicates the ingredients.
- Clean your grill thoroughly and provide foil to wrap food to help prevent cross contact.
When creating your menu consider serving basic options, such as plain hamburgers (bun-less) and providing guests with a variety of topping to create their own burger style. This makes your menu more inclusive rather than restrictive for those navigating food allergies.
Another great way to ensure kids don’t get their hands on foods they should avoid is to employ a color-coded plate system. Identifying one color as the “safe plate color.” (For example, all food on the blue plates is nut free.)
Think Beyond the Food
Consider planning non-food activities for your guests. These are easy to plan, inclusive, and keep everyone entertained. With the warmer weather outdoor games (such as badminton or croquet) can be fun, as well as having a sprinkler for younger guests.
Crafts can be an easy addition the party and don’t have to be overly complicated or expensive. Oriental Trading is a great place to find crafts for children of all ages as well as non-food party favors (such as keychains, bubbles, pencils, yo-yos or other small toys).
The Target dollar section is another great place to find crafts of party favors, as well as your local Dollar Store.