With the school year coming to a close, and BBQs on the horizon, parties are on the forefront of many of our minds.
The tricky part is that with 1 in every 13 kids having a food allergy, the menu can be a bit tricky. Everyone wants to know, “Well, what can I bring?” – Trust me, I understand.
My experience and suggestions are strictly for a peanut allergy. It is the allergy that I unfortunately know best. Please note that factories and ingredient lists change ALL the time. So make sure to double check packaging for updates.
With my experience, friends and family have been over the top accommodating. They want to bring safe foods, but may not know where to start. For starters, here is a quick guideline of things to consider when bringing peanut-free food to a party.
These recommendations are extremely specific, and us parents of a child with a food allergy understand. We realize safe foods are more expensive and usually have a smaller serving size. It has become an adjustment for us and we do not expect you to become an expert over night.
Again, TRUST ME. We understand. Food allergies are something that we have learned over time and appreciate you making the accommodations for the party. One bite of the wrong thing can take the life of a child. There will never be one bite of anything that is worth my child’s life.
Our biggest fear? Food sharing. With over 13 years of teaching experience, I have learned two things about lunchtime:
- Most kids share food even when you repeatedly ask them not to.
- Most kids throw away at least their lunch. (another blog post)
- Pre-cut fruit from a grocery store is considered unsafe. Publix has a sign above their cut fruit stating that there is a chance of cross contamination.
- When families wash and prepare food in their home, consider cutting boards, knives and counter tops. The smallest amount of cross contamination can affect a child.
- Choose fruit with a skin. Fruit you can peel will have a greater chance of being safe for children with a food allergy.
- SOME dried fruit brands are safe, but most brands are made in the same factory as nuts. Look for nut-free listed on the packaging.
- Bare Fruit Chips
- Dried Blueberries and Grapes
Nuts and Nut Butters:
- Avoid all nuts. There are too many risks with cross contamination and not worth the risk.
Chips and Cracker Cations:
- In the past, Rold Gold Pretzels has been recalled for peanut contamination. Read more here.
- Recalls are something parents with a food allergy are aware of, but the general public may not know about. If unsure, double check the specific product website.
- Check packaging.
- Choose items that state on the package, nut-free. The FAQ section of a product online is also helpful. (Yet time consuming)
Chips, Cracker, Popcorn Suggestions:
- Check packaging. These brands listed below are currently safe and have stated that they are nut-free. (4/2017) Again, factories where food is processed can change.
- Skinny Pop
- Late July Chips – avoid their crackers.
- One Potato, Two Potato Chips
- Mary’s Gone Crackers
- Bitsy Brain Food Crackers
Baked Good and Sweets Cations:
- Double check your cookware and countertops for cross contamination. If you think there is a chance it could have come in contact with peanut residue, do not bring it.
- Most baked goods are made in the same facility as other nuts. There have been horror stories of children eating food without nuts listed on the ingredient list, yet cross contamination has taken their life.
- Ice Cream is out. I have yet to find a safe brand.
- Ice pops such as King of Pops has told me that they have peanuts in their factories. – I will continue to investigate this to see if things change.
Baked Good/Sweets Suggestions:
- Enjoy Life has a variety of Allergy Friendly Baked Goods.
- Google your area for a nut free bakery. We have a great one in Roswell, Ga called Gluten Free Cutie.
- Bitsy Brainfood Cookies
- Lolly Pops and Gummies
Things You Can Do To Help Children Identify Peanut-Free Foods at a Party:
- Label Food Items with Peanut-Free Stamp
- Provide a separate table with the items they can choose from.
- Put allergy friendly foods in a different colored bowl. Teal usually represents allergy awareness.
Thank you for taking the time to keep all of our children safe. We realize it isn’t easy, and appreciate your extra efforts and modifications.