8 tips on cooking for people with food allergies

Cooking for people with food allergies can be tough. To help, King Pharmaceuticals Canada, maker of EpiPen, teamed with Canadian

Cooking for people with food allergies can be tough. To help, King Pharmaceuticals Canada, maker of EpiPen, teamed with Canadian food writer Lucy Waverman to create a collection of recipes suitable for those who have to avoid nuts, dairy, eggs and shellfish, and they’ve been kind enough to share the recipes with us—see the links below for a selection of allergy-friendly recipes. They’ve also offered the following 8 tips on cooking for people with food allergies. (Make sure to check with your doctor or allergist if you have any questions or concerns.)

1. Know what allergens to avoid
If you’re cooking for your family, then you should already be aware of which allergens to avoid in your meals. However, if you’re having guests over for dinner, make sure to find out if they have any allergies you should know about.

2. Be mindful of allergen cross-contamination
Cross-contamination occurs when an ingredient (food allergen) is transferred to a product that should not have that ingredient in it. Cross-contamination of allergens makes food dangerous to eat for those who are allergic. It can happen during food manufacturing through shared production and packaging equipment; at retail, through shared equipment and storage; and during food preparation at home or in restaurants when handling food, equipment and utensils or when there is inadequate cleaning of food preparation surfaces and hands.

3. Do not share food
When preparing and serving allergen-free food, encourage your guests not to trade or share food, utensils or food containers. There is still a chance that someone may have allergen particles on their hands, which could be transferred during a food exchange.

4. Keep it clean
Always ensure that surfaces such as tables, utensils and containers are clean before preparing food. Wash your hands both before and after eating.

5. Read product labels carefully
Learn to read food labels and check ingredients carefully every time. Be aware that there are alternative names for allergens. Avoid buying food products without an ingredient list. If an ingredient list says a product "may contain" a particular allergen, do not use it. If you do not recognize an ingredient, avoid the product. Manufacturers may occasionally change their recipes or use different ingredients for varieties of the same brand. Also, a brand may have different labelling or precautionary warnings in different countries, so it is important to be vigilant when travelling.

6. Find safe ingredients
Finding ingredients for allergen-free recipes can sometimes be challenging. Some ingredients can be hard to find even in otherwise well-stocked supermarkets or health food stores. Talk to the manager of your local supermarket or health food store. He or she may be willing to make a special order on your behalf, especially if you are willing to buy a large quantity of a given product.

7. Adapt recipes for food allergies
Familiarize yourself with safe foods that are common substitutes for allergens so that you can adapt all your family’s favourite recipes, or those you find in cookbooks or magazines. There are also ingredients on the market that are safe substitutes for the most common allergens. These alternatives will give you the best chance of turning out allergy-safe dishes that taste like the original.

8. Have an epinephrine auto-injector nearby
Allergists recommend that if people with food allergies do not have an epinephrine auto-injector (such as EpiPen) with them, then they shouldn’t eat. Always ensure that an epinephrine auto-injector is within arm’s reach when serving food to a person with severe food allergies.

9 food allergy-friendly recipes
Creamy Macaroni Bake
Pad Thai
Best Grilled Burgers with Pesto
Mustard Crumb Crust Fried Chicken with Corn Fritters and Mediterranean Salsa
Chicken Satays with Thai Dipping Sauce
Tagliatelle with Mushrooms, Lemon and Breadcrumbs
Chocolate Banana Brownies
Chocolate Birthday Cake
Apricot Brulee