Whether you are packing the picnic hamper, going camping, or joining friends for a barbecue, food allergies can take the fun out of summer foods. Try these tips to keep food allergies from raining on your picnic:
• Pack plenty – Whether you are planning the picnic or are going as a guest, make sure you pack enough “safe” foods for someone who has food allergies. That way he won’t go hungry if there is any question about ingredients. Make sure foods are all packed in separate containers to prevent cross-contamination. Cross-contamination can happen if a food allergen is transferred into a food that should be safe. It can also happen during preparation, storage, cooking or serving. Common causes of cross-contamination are utensils that are accidentally shared between foods, splatters during cooking, and serving bowls that brush against each other on the table or in a serving line.
• Table covers – Some people react to their food allergen if they touch a spot on a table where the food was spilled. Since you can’t know what the previous picnickers were eating, don’t take for granted that a table is clean. Bring your own plastic table cloth to provide a barrier from any leftover food particles.
• Grilling – Be careful to keep food separate on and around the grill. Food for the person with food allergies should be cooked on a clean surface, such as in a cast iron skillet or in aluminum foil packets. You’ll also need a separate spatula or other utensils to prevent cross contamination during cooking and serving.
• Serving line – It’s easy for cross-contamination to happen around the serving line. It can happen if a spoon gets moved from one bowl to another or if drips fall off the spoon into another dish.