Holiday Food Safety and Food Allergies

The holidays can be a challenging time for those with food allergies, an estimated 4% of adults and 8% of children in the U.S.

Here are nine tips to help navigate safely through the season.

  1. If you are hosting a holiday event, check with your guests about allergies before planning the menu.
  2. When planning to attend parties and dinners, give your host a heads up about food allergies as soon as you receive the invitation. Offer to bring food to share.
  3. Bring allergen-free snacks to holiday parties at school or work and include an ingredient list card. Also bring your own serving spoon to avoid cross-contamination.
  4. If traveling over the holidays, it may be more convenient to bring allergy-free foods with you, rather than hoping your hosts can accommodate your needs or trying to find foods you need in a different community.
  5. Do not overlook the turkey—basted or self-basting turkeys can include common allergens such as soy, wheat, and dairy. The safest bet is choosing a turkey with minimal ingredients that are clearly listed on the food label.
  6. Hang onto food labels. Keep the ingredient labels from holiday foods and ingredients in case there are questions about possible allergens.
  7. Remember, because of cross-contamination from milk chocolate, it is not uncommon for dark chocolate products to also contain milk, even when not declared on the label.
  8. Before going to events with food, go over ‘the rules’ with your children and remind them to check with you before eating anything.
  9. Eat before you go to parties. To play it safe, eat a light meal ahead of time and possibly pack an allergen-safe snack.

Adapted from:

The ‘Big 8’ Food Allergens

  • Milk
  • Eggs
  • Tree Nuts
  • Peanuts
  • Fish
  • Shellfish
  • Wheat
  • Soybeans