With summertime, there will be many “summer barbecues” to attend. Don’t let food allergies be the reason not to spend time with family and friends! To ensure you or your child is safe at these BBQs, we put together a list of helpful tips for attending cookouts with food allergies:
Talk With the Host Before Attending
Regardless of who is hosting you – a family member, friend or a co-worker – they may or may not know about any potential food allergen your family is avoiding. Prior to the party, it’s always a good idea to give them a heads up by taking a few minutes to talk to them. If you had such conversations with the host in the past, don’t assume they remember.
It’s best to begin such conversations with education about food allergies, instead of jumping right into expectations or your needs. Remember not everyone is as knowledgeable about food allergies as you are. You don’t have to go into the nitty gritty details, but more about what you (or your child) is allergic to, what potential reactions can happen and how the host can offer a safer opportunity to be included in the event.
This is a great time to ask what foods they plan to serve and any ingredients in those foods that may contain an allergen. Sometimes the host may take extra precaution to use ingredients that don’t contain the allergen or they will make sure you know so that you can take extra precautions. During such conversations it’s always a good idea to offer ways you can assist the host.
Offer to Clean the Grill
While cleaning the grill may be labor intensive and time consuming if you aren’t grilling at home, it may add to your peace of mind. If you can’t or don’t want to clean someone else’s grill, lid included, consider wrapping your child’s food in aluminum foil (either heavy-duty or double wrapped to help prevent tears in the aluminum foil) prior to cooking. You can also consider bringing food that can be microwaved or cooked in a skillet to avoid the grill altogether.
Bring “Green Light” or “Safe” Food
Offer to bring a side dish or dessert that is allergen free for your child to consume. This way you know there will be a few things there that are okay to eat. You can also choose to bring your own condiments in individual-sized packets to help prevent any potential cross contamination with allergens when people eat family style and share large containers and serving utensils.
If you are looking for fun ways to incorporate Neocate into dishes you bring for your loved one, make sure to review our Neocate Footsteps Recipes. This guide contains delicious food allergy-friendly recipes you can make to enjoy with the whole family. Recipes including Neocate Infant, Neocate Nutra, Neocate Junior and Neocate Splash products.
Go First in Line
Some sauces and condiments may contain foods that your child is allergic to. When at a BBQ, consider asking if food for your allergic little one could be prepared first (potentially separately) on the grill before adding those sauces to other food on the grill. This can help ease the concern of cross contamination with allergens.
Going first also pertains to going first in the buffet line. Some people are unaware of how easily cross contamination with allergens can happen and don’t realize that you shouldn’t switch the spoons for the coleslaw and the potato salad. By going first in the buffet line, you know the “safe” foods haven’t been contaminated with a potentially allergenic food.
Eat Before You Go and Bring Snacks
Sometimes it is easiest to feed your child before attending an event. With a full belly, there is less of a desire to eat foods that may contain potential allergens. If the event lasts more than a few hours, consider snacks you know your child will be able to eat.
Always Be Prepared
It’s always best to prepare for emergencies than to be caught by surprise. Prior to your event, take steps to make sure everyone knows what to do in an emergency situation. Better yet, write down and carry with you an emergency plan of action. If your child carries an epinephrine auto-injector in case of anaphylaxis, make sure you have it with you at all times!