Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Hospitality Tips for Allgergies/Intolerances

Wow! My first official blog post for OH! I'm so excited!

Did you know that food allergies affect about 2 to 4% of adults and 6 to 8% of children in America? In our home allergies affect 75% of the children and I have an intolerance to many foods. Food Intolerance is actually much more common than allergies. In fact, nearly everyone at one time has had an unpleasant reaction to something they ate. Some people have specific food intolerance such as Lactose intolerance. Which is the most common food intolerance, affecting about 10% of Americans. There are many differences between allergies and intolerance, but the most basic is that intolerance is not life threatening. Just unpleasant for that person.
With the growing numbers of people having food reactions, how are we to accommodate that in our hospitality? Do we have to make expensive organic meals that are prepared in a sterile environment? Since hospitality is all about showing the love of Christ to others, we should really have their best interest in mind. It doesn't feel good to know that you may have given your dinner guests food poisoning, but when serving food that may contain allergens that is essentially what you are doing. Maybe even worse!

Keeping in mind that the most common food allergies in the US are peanuts, tree nuts (such as walnuts, pecans and almonds), fish, and shellfish, milk, eggs, soy products, and wheat; I will continue this article addressing these types of allergens. There are other food related allergies, such as reactions to latex used in packaging or from gloves worn, but those type would really warrant another post all there own.

My first suggestion is to ask your guests when inviting them over if there are any allergies, intolerance or food preferences that they or their family may have. If they say no, you're free and clear to make what ever you want. If the answer is yes, avoid those foods and then comes my next suggestion: Always read the labels! After knowing about their food needs, this is the most important step you will be taking.

While this image is a little blurry I wanted to show you the importance of reading the labels. This food could contain any of 5 different oils. What if one was peanut oil? Peanuts in your pasta? Who would have thought? In addition to that, the bold areas show the allergens in this food. It contains the allergen wheat, but is also is manufactured on equipment that processes foods containing milk. Meaning anyone with a milk allergy could have a reaction to this food. I am so thankful we live in a country that labels it's foods. These bold prints have saved us from feeding our kids foods that could make them sick.

To close I'll share my last tip: if in doubt, choose a meal that can be separated. Taco bar and Spaghetti (separated by sauce, noodles, etc) are great options that are easy to make and easy on the budget. If someone is allergic to dairy, they can just skip the cheese and still enjoy the rest of the food being served.
Some great resources for more information about allergies and intolerance are:


  1. My sister has celiac disease, so I realize how important this is. (Celiac disease is a severe intolerance, as in, continuing to eat this stuff could make her severely ill and eventually kill her, to gluten, found in wheat, rye, oats and barley -- and "modified food starch," to name one mysterious ingredient found on labels.) It can actually be fun, though, to find different versions of foods that won't harm your guests -- pumpkin mousse at Thanksgiving, without the gluten-ous crust of a pie, tastes just as good. :)

  2. Thank you, Crystal, for such a great post. I don't have any allergies or food intolerances in my immediate family so this isn't something I usually think about. I love TopazTook's create take on hosting someone with food issues.

  3. Love this. As the parent of a child with severe food allergies, I know how much we as guests appreciate it when the host/ess makes food safety for our son a priority. I usually just pack his own food to be sure but I cannot imagine how hard this must be as an adult. Fortunately, our son's food intolerances and eczema are so much better now that he has been taking Belly Boost children's chewable probiotics - but for awhile there it was miserable because his food choices were just so limited. It's all about safety!! Thanks :)