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Catering, Food Handling and Awareness *OnTopic* Forum to educate us on safe food handling. Not specifically for Catering or competition but overall health and keeping our families safe too.


View Poll Results: What Do You Know About Food Allergies
I have food allergies 15 25.86%
I have a family member or close friend with food allergies 16 27.59%
I know someone that has food allergies 14 24.14%
What are food allergies? - Passing Out From Booze Doesn't Count 18 31.03%
Multiple Choice Poll. Voters: 58. You may not vote on this poll

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Unread 12-25-2007, 08:16 PM   #1
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Default Food Allergy Poll

With the holiday season halfway through I thought I would put this out there to see what people know about food allergies and what they do about them.

As a father of 3 boys where 2 of them have severe food allergies I am intimately aware of the dangers holiday parties can hold for them. Unfortunately I am also all to familiar with festivities gone bad.

As a caterer I have made it a point to ask with every order as well as create sheets for my customers to be aware of what I use in my dishes.
Starting this year I will also be handing out a food allergy reaction sheet just in case just so people know what to do in case something happens even if it's not with my food. It will be a reprint of something from WebMD or the Mayo Clinic.

Earlier this year I was asked to cater for a company party of about 100 people on the night of a big overnight working session where there were new applications/severs/code going into their online system. Even though the coordinator assured me no one had food allergies he couldn't 100% guarantee it. Generally it is not a fear, especially with adults as they know the risks, but this event they ordered 3 pans of my seafood jambalaya. I asked him for safety sake if I could come to their office and ask around to the teams or if they would send an email out asking. They sent an email out and about 85 people responded with a negative. Being the somewhat paranoid person I can be about my food I went in to their office and found the other 15 people and asked them. Low and behold only 2 people had food allergies - to SHELLFISH. They were out of town when the email was sent and didn't respond.

For their party I prepared a special non-fish jambalaya as well as several vegetarian dishes (turns out the other 13 were contractors from India and total vegetarians). When preparing them I used completely different equipment, stored them differently, changed cloves about 25 times, and delivered them in completely different coolers. One of the two people was the systems architect for the event and was invaluable to their work that night. The other was the project manager and was supposed to be coordinating the effort through the night. On the way in I picked up 2 packages of liquid benadryl and gave one to each of them just in case they somehow got exposure another way.

Generally this might seem a little crazy, but they were greatly appreciative and have asked me to cater their April, July, and September project dates. With each event over 100 people it makes it well worth my effort as they refuse to pay less than 10.00 per person for the attention to detail, quality of food, and all around fun that bbq brings to what is generally a miserable long night.

Imagine what it's like in our house.
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Unread 12-25-2007, 09:40 PM   #2
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Great topic, bob. I hadn't given food allergies much thought when cooking for the masses. If there is some good info, could you post it here for all to see?
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Unread 12-25-2007, 10:01 PM   #3
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Yep. I'm putting together something now for just that reason. Links to medical sites for further explanation, etc. I've got so many I don't want to blow everyone away or drive them away as it can be.
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Unread 12-25-2007, 11:47 PM   #4
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Good topic, that is alwasy a concern, I myself am allergic to shell fish, mainly being the iodine in the shell fish, I got sick at a halloween dinner this year, and couldn't figure out why, apparently the punch served had calcium fortified orange juice in it, and in the ingrediants was listed seaweed which contains the same iodine as the shell fish, so its not just food, its also drinks you gotta watch out for . Thanks for posting this, and look forward to reading anything you post about it.
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Unread 12-26-2007, 03:51 AM   #5
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I too am allergic to shell fish... Not all of them, but some. Also from the iodine but I guess I'm not as allergic as some. Shrimp and oysters are the two things that really set me off... I can have one or two medium sized shrimps and be OK, but that third one and I swell up like a blow fish. Other stuff I can eat like, crab, lobster, clams it's weird... I just have to be careful about it. There are also a lot of medications out there that have various shellfish or fish ingredients that I have to be careful with.

So having faced this for as long as I can remember, I'm always very diligent about ingredients when cooking for others.

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Unread 12-26-2007, 10:21 AM   #6
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I have a good friend who is a chef. He is very allergic to poultry.
His airway swells to the point he has to go to the emergency room.
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Unread 12-26-2007, 10:23 AM   #7
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I have a very close friend who just found out she has an allergy to fruit of all things.
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Unread 12-26-2007, 11:41 AM   #8
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This is the check list that I used but here it's published from a health safety site. - but it's become standard practice. Oddly enough it's in a New Zealand site.

http://www.nzfsa.govt.nz/publication...08/page-14.htm
Managing allergens in your food business

Food recalls involving allergens are common. The majority of allergen recalls handled by NZFSA involve mislabelling or undeclared allergens. Others include cross-contamination.
If you run a food business, here are some things you could do to start managing the risks around food allergens:
• keep accurate written details about all the ingredients of prepared food, as well as pre-packed foods
• ensure your ingredient lists are up to date
• if you change the ingredients in one of your products, make sure you also update your labels and the ingredient information you make available to your customers
• destroy all old labels and lists as soon as they have been updated (but keep a copy for future reference in case of problems)
• check all the ingredients in the dish/recipe (and what they contain) as well as what you use to cook the dish with, or garnish, eg: don’t fry food in oil that has previously been used to fry food that may have contained an allergen
• clean all surfaces and utensils that may have been used to prepare foods containing allergens
• if there is any doubt about whether a food contains even a small amount of an allergen, tell the customer – don’t guess!
• store allergenic foods in separate containers,
• separated from other foods
• use paper towels for drying hands rather than cloth towels
• make sure all staff are aware of the serious consequences of food allergies and ensure regular training is provided to all staff employed in business.
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Unread 12-26-2007, 12:27 PM   #9
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This is the standard for food allergies. http://www.foodallergy.org/allergens/index.html

If you look on the left hand side under common food allergens. Each link contains more information about the basics and the potential side effects if exposed.

Here is an extensive explanation on WebMD from the Cleveland Clinic.
http://www.webmd.com/allergies/food-...y-intolerances

The above links also have information on what to do in case of a reaction. High level preparation for a reaction is - administer benadryl immediately. If the reaction is severe liquid will still go in and you can pour it in if necessary. Especially if it's a child.

If swelling of the mouth or face occurs check the voice. If the voice is coarse - call 911 and tell them there's someone having a food allergy reaction. Most ambulances don't carry epinephrine shots so you have to tell them. If the benadryl has already been administered keep a close eye out on the person. If breathing stops then CPR may be necessary - but BE certain. The 911 operator can probably put you in touch with a doctor to advise.

If this scares the crap out of anyone don't worry too much - it doesn't happen that often. http://www.wrongdiagnosis.com/f/food...gies/stats.htm I've seen different numbers but they aren't that much higher generally around 1-2%. Reactions are more, but death is rare.

The biggest challenge with food allergies is with small children. They eat everything without thinking about it. 10-15 minutes time for a reaction and depending on the condition it will be anywhere from hives to full blown anaphlaxis(anaphlyactic shock). If it's a big party with a lot of people it's hard to keep track of them so better to avoid altogether. Other kids may see it happening and not understand or know to get an adult.

Ok, just remember I'm a parent of children with food allergies who's been to the ER once so I'm more of a freak than most.

Hope this helps anyone out there looking for information.
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Unread 12-26-2007, 11:49 PM   #10
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My wife goes through allergic reactions and varying levels of sensitivity to a point that she never really knows what she is or isn't allergic to. Doing the regular allergen tests in a clinical setting she scores a 4+ to a 5 on EVERYTHING except Coffee and dogs. The last time she had it done, she told the nurse and she was blown off. The nurse got half way through the 118 pricks and was told to give her the benadryl and cortisone shots NOW(STAT!!!) by the Allergist who happened to walk in. Her dietary problems tend to be more prep related than the actual food or spices. She can eat pretty much anything as long as it is cooked beyond recognition. Ordering a steak, it has to be butterflied and cooked near Charcoal Briquette. She can't eat yellow rice or Oregano, which is bad since she from a strong Italian family. Her issues and reactions are more of a GI related reaction. If her meat is the least bit undercooked, it will run through her before we even leave the restaurant. Put a little Oregano in the spices, and she'll be in the hospital on a vent if they can get her intubated in time.
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Unread 12-27-2007, 02:15 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnMcD348 View Post
My wife goes through allergic reactions and varying levels of sensitivity to a point that she never really knows what she is or isn't allergic to. Doing the regular allergen tests in a clinical setting she scores a 4+ to a 5 on EVERYTHING except Coffee and dogs. The last time she had it done, she told the nurse and she was blown off. The nurse got half way through the 118 pricks and was told to give her the benadryl and cortisone shots NOW(STAT!!!) by the Allergist who happened to walk in. Her dietary problems tend to be more prep related than the actual food or spices. She can eat pretty much anything as long as it is cooked beyond recognition. Ordering a steak, it has to be butterflied and cooked near Charcoal Briquette. She can't eat yellow rice or Oregano, which is bad since she from a strong Italian family. Her issues and reactions are more of a GI related reaction. If her meat is the least bit undercooked, it will run through her before we even leave the restaurant. Put a little Oregano in the spices, and she'll be in the hospital on a vent if they can get her intubated in time.
WOW! It's always the thing where when you think you have it bad someone else has it so much more difficult. My middle one is a 3 on uncooked beef which I don't understand but it could also be a cross contamination thing from that. Fortunately we don't have that too often. Unless he tries to eat my NY strip or porterhouse when we have them. Because those would still be walking if I could get my wife to let me.
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Unread 12-27-2007, 11:39 PM   #12
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I like mine just past walking stage. Pink and runny but warm. I learned how to cut my meat and eat it without it being presented fully to the wife when we are out at resturaunts. She does OK with it now but initially, I would have to get my stuff med/well to well, but not as well as hers. She said that until she was about 18, she never had a problem with allergies, they just all hit her at once and put her in the hospital overnight. Before that, she loved a good Medium steak.
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Unread 12-28-2007, 09:50 AM   #13
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We have a friend of the family who's little girl is alergic to eggs and nuts. They carry an epi pen with them. It makes it hard to cook breakfast when they come over and I have to read every package before handing out snacks/food. My wife also doesn't give me enough notice as to when they are going to stay so that I can get pancake mix that doesn't have or require eggs, etc. So she usually ends up having cereal while everyone else is eating pancakes.

I also had a customer when I worked in the resaurant that was allergic to salt. I had to wash the pans, utensils and use new ingredients for her food. She didn't come in at the busy time so it wasn't a big deal.

Thank god my kids don't have any alergies or my wife or MIL would have killed them already.
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Unread 01-01-2008, 06:16 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 91vw03 View Post
I also had a customer when I worked in the resaurant that was allergic to salt. I had to wash the pans, utensils and use new ingredients for her food. She didn't come in at the busy time so it wasn't a big deal.
They were probably allergic to iodine. Some people that are allergic to "seafood" or salt are actually allergic to iodine. Typically shellfish is because of a protein reaction.

MIL? Know exactly how you feel. After this holiday season we're never going to our family's houses again. Or at least until my 2 year isn't an eating machine putting everything and anything into his mouth.
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Unread 01-01-2008, 06:45 AM   #15
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My youngest son is allergic to fish. Not shellfish, just the regular fish like catfish, crappie, tuna etc. Shrimp, crawfish, oysters don't cause any problem. Fake crabmeat sets him off big time though.
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