Top 10 Holiday Food Allergy Safety Tips
Top Ten Tips for Food Allergies at the Holidays – San Francisco Edition
Party Tips for Hosts & Guests from Mireille Schwartz
CEO & Founder, Bay Area Allergy Advisory Board
1) Hosts: please keep food labels for everything used to prepare a festive homemade Holiday meal so an allergic guest may double-check the ingredient list.
2) Hosts: if there’s someone with a food allergy and guests want to contribute to the party, suggest flowers, wine, or Holiday-themed napkins & plates instead of food items.
Guests: Frey Vineyards in Mendocino is historically America’s FIRST organic & biodynamic winery free of chemicals. An elegant & affordable way to enhance the celebration, plus it’s safe for sulfite allergies.
3) Don’t overlook Tom Turkey! Some basted turkeys contain soy, wheat and dairy. Instead look for turkeys labeled “Natural”, which by law must be minimally processed. Fatted Calf Charcuterie in Hayes Valley (320 Fell Street, San Francisco) is carrying both Early Bird Ranch (local) as well as Good Shepard Farms (from Kansas) fresh turkeys this year free of antibiotics, hormones, and allergens.
4) Avoid cross-contamination of utensils and surfaces when preparing foods. Rinsing a knife that chopped walnuts is insufficient: thoroughly scrub all utensils and surfaces with soap & water, and wipe clean. Even trace amounts of a food can cause a reaction for highly allergic people.
5) Ambitious home chefs: how about trying color-coded cooking utensils this year? A bright red silicone spatula or a nifty lime green serving spoon is sure to alert food allergic guests. Lower Haight’s kitchen supply store, COOKIN’ (339 Divisadero Street, San Francisco) offers up an unusual array of high end packed-to-the-gills vintage & new housewares.
6) If a guest brings a food item that contains allergens and there’s an allergic diner at the table, if it’s well-sealed you could accept it and donate it later to a friend or a soup kitchen. Food Runners in San Francisco is a volunteer organization dedicated to alleviating hunger. With a free phone call, their volunteers deliver over 10 tons of food a week to agencies feeding people in need and can pick up a donation.
7) Guests: if you’re allergic and flying to visit friends or family, make some simple allergy-free foods that travel well and ship them to your host home a week or so in advance.
#8 is for Guests: if your HOST has food allergies you can always bring a gift of unpeeled fruit or a prepackaged food with ingredient lists that your host says is a-ok. The Ferry Building Marketplace on the Embarcadero at Market Street, SF has a wide range of seasonal “safe” food for you to gift your Host.
9) Guests: if you’re food allergic even if it’s not a potluck why not offer to bring a safe dish or two so there’s definitely something on the table you can eat, and your host doesn’t have to prepare separate food items. Here is our BAAAB recipe for “Charlotte Jude’s Favorite Nut-Free Zucchini Bread” featured on RedTricycle.com. Share dishes that are allergen-free and a delight for everyone attending!
10) Guests: if you are allergic always let your host (or restaurant where you’re celebrating) know in advance – don’t assume they will know or remember. And always bring your own medication (an up-to-date auto injector) just in case of emergency. Festive Holiday favorites for groups include Spruce Restaurant (3640 Sacramento Street, SF) and the Crown Room at Nob Hill’s Fairmont Hotel (950 Mason Street, SF). If you feel like an affordable and down-home casual Holiday eve, owner Michael Richardson of Da ‘Pitt (formerly Brother-in-Laws) on Divisadero Street in SF has completely allergy-free spice rubs for all their meats including tri tip, beef brisket, and baby back ribs.