How to Have an Allergy-Safe Thanksgiving

Holidays are a stressful time for anyone, especially those with food allergies. Food plays a central role in Thanksgiving traditions, and with these tips and tricks, everyone at your table will have a safe and happy Thanksgiving. 

Prep For Success

Before you make your grocery list and begin your Thanksgiving meal prep, add the following to your prep list:

  • Communicate with your guests in advance for any dietary restrictions
  • Keep packaging or snap a photo of the ingredients label so guests can double-check themselves
  • Create labels with allergens for each dish
  • Encourage allergic guests to bring a dish to share that is safe for them to enjoy
  • Ask your guests with allergies if they have any allergy-friendly recipes for Thanksgiving you can make
  • Learn simple swaps to make favorite dishes allergy-free (e.g., no cream or butter, no nuts in stuffing or desserts)

How to Avoid Cross-Contamination

We’re regularly cleaning these days, but when cooking for guests with food allergies, you need to be extra careful to avoid any possible cross-contamination. Thoroughly clean your kitchen and cooking equipment before making any dish that will be eaten by a guest with food allergies. If you aren’t making your meal entirely allergen-free, then make sure to cook the allergy-friendly dishes to avoid any cross-contamination. A helpful tip to also consider is to serve yourself first! If you are attending a party that is not at your home, it is very easy for cross-contamination to occur throughout the meal and as people confuse and start mixing the utensils.

Common Thanksgiving Foods That Contain Allergens

Review this list and triple-check your recipes and ingredients to make sure your food is allergy-friendly.

  • Turkey (dairy, soy, and wheat in the brine; natural is safest)
  • Stuffing (wheat)
  • Mashed potatoes (milk and wheat)
  • Gravy (wheat, dairy, and soy; avoid pre-made packets and make your own with pan drippings)
  • Pumpkin pie (dairy and wheat) 

Attending a Gathering Away From Home

Gathering together for Thanksgiving is such a wonderful way to spend the holidays. A helpful tip to consider when celebrating away from home is to serve yourself dinner first. If you are attending a party, it is very easy for cross-contamination to occur throughout the meal and as people confuse and start mixing the utensils. Serving yourself first prevents any cross-contamination from occurring. 

Offer to help your host by planning the menu and shopping for ingredients that are allergen-safe. You can also discuss labeling certain dishes that are allergen-free and safe to eat. Communication is key when planning on attending a gathering away from home.

If you are going to someone else’s home, speak with the host to plan on bringing a special dish and/or dessert. Bringing your own dishes and dessert is a good way on staying safe from a reaction this Thanksgiving. Make sure you label them so everyone with a food allergy knows that it is safe to eat.  

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