Advice for Catering to an Audience With Food Allergies

If you’re catering to an event with a large audience, there will probably be at least a handful of people who have a food allergy. Most commonly, the foods that cause allergic reactions are milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, and soybeans. You can find all of these allergens in a variety of popular dishes. Therefore those with allergies must be careful. 

A reaction to food can range from mild to severe symptoms. To avoid a severe allergic reaction, every event should know their guest’s needs and have options for those who have these allergies.

For more help, here are some tips for catering to an audience with food allergies:

What are The Different Food Allergies?

Learn About Your Guests Before the Event 

Because food plays a central role in celebrations and events of all kinds, it’s important to know your audience before finalizing your catering menu. If you are hosting an event that is serving food, it is wise to send out an invite asking if any of the guests have any dietary restrictions. In the invite, you should ask your guest to be as detailed as possible, especially noting if their allergy is severe.

Understand the Severity of Food Allergies 

The common food allergies that you should be aware of are: 

  • Milk
  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Nuts
  • Wheat
  • Soy

These allergies are most common in both children and adults. Some of the more minor reactions of someone with one of the listed allergies include itchy skin and mouth, upset stomach, hives, or a runny nose. Some reactions can be more severe and include having trouble breathing or throat swelling after eating or being near these foods.

Another common severe allergy that you need to be extra cautious about is celiac disease. When you have celiac disease, you have a strong, negative reaction to gluten, commonly found in products containing rye, barley, and wheat. Those with celiac disease often have severe, or uncomfortable symptoms if they accidentally eat a dish that they’re not supposed to.

Work With Your Caterer to Provide a Menu in Advance 

Once your guest list returns your invitation with their food restrictions, it’s time to work with your caterer to make a menu that all guests can enjoy. You want your guests to feel comfortable at your event, so providing the official catering menu to them beforehand will make your guest feel cared for. They will appreciate you taking the time to make accommodations for them.

Providing a menu beforehand will help guests better prepare for your event. Plus, it will allow them to ask any specific questions or express additional concerns.

Be Sure to Label Everything 

To ensure that you are extra cautious, you should label the food items that are placed out for your guests. On these labels, you should get as specific as you can. Include a note that indicates if the meal is gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free, vegan, etc. You should also provide warnings if the meals were prepared in an area near any of these allergens. It’s always better to be safe, then sorry.

Provide Separate Meals if Needed 

The one goal of your event is to keep your guests happy. So, if your event is food-oriented, you’ll want to make sure that there is an option for every guest. An ideal option would be to make adjustments to existing dishes, but that’s not always the case in severe situations. You may have to ask your caterer to provide a single, or multiple, separate meals for guests with restrictive allergies. Your caterer wants your guests to be satisfied just as much as you do, so they’ll be very accommodating to your event needs.

Choose The Right Caterer 

If you know that your catering menu is going to need special accommodations, you’ll want to make sure that you work with a company that will be happy to service your needs. If you’re looking for catering in Pennsylvania, R & R Caterers can cater to your needs and find foods that will serve those with special dietary requests. 

If you have questions or would like to hear more about our catering options, give us a call at 215-638-7376