Stay Safe at Christmas time.
Please be aware of the Covid rulings and adapt the information below for the Government rulings, e.g., amount of people gathering so on.
This maybe your first Christmas handling allergies or this might be another Christmas but with different circumstances. The list is here to give somethings to think about to help to keep you safe this Christmas.
Use all lists on this page in conjunction with each other and adapt where appropriate.
Enjoy Christmas but be safe.
- Alcohol can influence your decisions; you might be less wary and less cautious.
- Peer pressure from family, friends, or work colleagues, do not eat something because you feel forced to.
- Do not eat something because you do not want to feel a burden.
- Ask people not to bring the allergen to where you live.
- If you are going to family or friends make sure they know what allergen causes you to be severely ill, tell them about your symptoms and what needs to be done if you become ill.
- Always carry your medication and your adrenaline auto-injector with you.
- If you are eating at another household bring some safe food with you, so you do not feel left out if you cannot have something that is being offered to everyone.
- Discuss with your host about cross contamination.
- Do not be afraid to ask to see the labels.
- If there are buffet foods already put out before you arrive, ask questions ask to see labels, but be aware of cross contamination from other guests picking up and putting down foods. Ask if you can plate your food first to avoid cross contamination.
- Ask your host if you can help with the cooking, this way you know how the food is cooked and you can advise as you go along.
- Ask if eat item can have different serving utensils and ask if they could not be wooden.
- Ask people to wash their hands after eating.
- Be advised if kissing especially couples that an allergen can stay in the salvia for several hours and cross contamination can occur.
- Do not share food, utensils, cups, glasses so on.
- Volunteer to bring food.
- Have your own special glass or cup so no one else will use it by mistake.
- Still check labels and triple check, Christmas can be terribly busy, and mistakes can happen.
- Do not experiment with new foods.
- Think about what alcohol you are drinking as some drinks are filtered through seashells, egg whites, fish bladders or milk. Take your own alcohol you know that you are safe with.
- Ask if you can be involved with the shopping list.
- If you suffer from asthma, access how your asthma is as this can influence your rection.
- Have you or are you feeling under the weather? as this can influence your rection.
- Have you been exercising? E.g., jogging as this can influence your rection.
- Tell some immediately if you feel unwell or have symptoms.
- If you have symptoms do not go to toilet on your own
- If you want fresh air and have symptoms, ask someone to go with you.
- Do not allow someone else to pour you a drink unless you trust them, this is because they might add extra into the drink without realising, or they have food traces on their hands that might go on your glass.
- Kissing under the mistletoe, think about what the other person has eaten, allergens can remain on lips, mouth, and salvia for up to 2 -24 hours.
- Stuffing can different kind of nuts, and people might add extra to stuffing content than the packet, so ask your host.
- Brussel Sprouts, some people can add flaked almonds or walnuts.
- Chocolates, some chocolates are not wrapped in boxes and there could be nut chocolates, think of cross contamination within the packet, and if someone picked up a chocolate and put back into the box once they changed their mind which one, they wanted. Dark chocolate may contain milk traces due manufacturing process.
- Punchbowls or cocktails, unfortunately unless you speak to person who made it t, then you might not know what is in the drink. Also, without anyone knowing someone else can add extra alcohol to the drink.
- Make sure your plate and cutlery are cleaned before food is placed onto it or using the cutlery.
If you are the host
- Ask your guests in advance about their allergies.
- Ask about the foods they cannot have and foods they can have.
- To make them feel safer, ask them if they want to come over and help with the preparation.
- Check if food you are going to do will be ok for allergy. See label reading menu link below.
- Think about cross contamination, see cross contamination menu link below.
- If you think you are unable to exclude the allergen, ask them if they are happy to bring their food.
Extra tips for children Christmas parties
- Remind and watch your child not to help themselves to food without making sure it is safe for them.
- If leaving your child at a Christmas party, then speak to the host about your child and remember to tell your child who is responsible for them.
- Tell your child if they eaten something, they think they should not have done or feel any symptoms then speak to the adult immediately.
- Make sure your child has their emergency plan/ action plan, medication, and adrenaline auto-injectors with them always.
- Remind your child about their symptoms and recognising them,
- Do not forget to give the adult responsible for your child your emergency contact details.
- Supply some cake and sweets to the host in case your child can not have the Christmas cake.
- Ask if you child’s food could be plated before anyone else’s if a buffet as this will stop cross contamination.
- Keep up to date for food recalls.
- Triple check ingredients
- Be wary of “may contain” “produced in a factory” “processed in a facility with…” “made on same line” “not suitable for … allergy sufferers due to manufacturing processes”, depending on your severity of food reaction these could cause you symptoms.
- Even if you had the product before read label in case ingredient/recipe change.
- Do not rely on vegan claims as these are not defined by law and might still have may contain disclaimers on packaging.
- If you must pick up an allergen that you are allergic to take disposable gloves with you, also take hand gel with you and use until you can get to wash your hands. Always wash hand when possible as hand gel or antibacterial wipes cannot be relied on completely.
- Be aware there might be loose products this time of year e.g., nuts.
- If you have an airborne allergy e.g., milk, cheese avoid bakeries and hot counters in store.
- Be aware of deli counters and the possible cross contamination.
- If in doubt of a product contact the manufacturer before buying.
- Plan meals and shopping list
If you are having a meal out for Christmas
- Call ahead and ask to speak to the manager. If you have spoken to the restaurant, beforehand ask if that member of staff will be working the night that you will be in.
- Ask for the table to be cleaned again just in case of cross contamination.
- Do you need a translation card? (Coming soon)
- Always take your medication, your adrenaline auto- injector and your action/care plan
- Wear your identification alert e.g., bracelet or other jewellery.
- Communicate with the staff at the restaurant.
- Ask for the allergen menu.
- Look online for allergen information.
- Whoever is booking make sure that booking has notes on about allergy and which allergens.
- Make sure the restaurant caters for your allergy, it would be horrible to turn up and be refused to be served.
- Do not feel embarrassed if must ask for another member of staff if the member of staff you are talking to is not understanding your requirements.
- Avoid sharing dishes and set menus if the rest of the guests is doing so.
- Keep your meal choice simple.
- Avoid fried food as the grill and frying oil are ripe for cross contamination, avoid unless you know this has been cooked in separate fryer or grill.
- Be careful with deserts and these could have unexpected allergens especially homemade desserts.
- If you have seen the menu pre plan your meal but check on the day just in case ingredients has been changed.
- Salad bars are a high risk of contamination – if you ask the restaurant, they are likely to get you a salad from the kitchen that has not been contaminated.
- Think seriously about all you can eat buffets, as cross contamination is a greater risk.
- Speak to people with allergies to see who they recommend restaurants but bear in mind each time will be different e.g., different ingredient, different staff, there are always variables that can make a dining out experience safe or hazardous.
- Look for reviews online.
- Ask, if possible, a certain meal can have an item removed.
- If your meal comes out with the allergen on the plate return the food, do not attempt eating as there could be contamination on the plate or food. When returning to the kitchen ask for a complete fresh meal and clean plate.
- Chain restaurants are more likely to use the same ingredients.
- Try to choose a time for a meal that is a quieter and the kitchens are not so busy.
- Try to choose a restaurant you have been to before, so the staff know you.
- Always have your mobile phone with you
- Always ask for the ingredients for sauces or dressings.
- If you do not feel confident that the food will be safe, or not that you feel that you are being taken seriously then be prepared to tell them that you are unable to eat there and leave.
- If your friends want to stay, have a drink, and enjoy the company and eat later when it is safe for you to do so.
- Read the law and restaurants and providing allergen information. (see link below)
- Ask if they have an allergen menu.
If you have a reaction and the food is prepared by a business
- If you have a reaction, if possible, ask someone to get a sample of the food and hold on to it, then this can be investigated if a crime has been made. Do not do this if this will hinder the treatment of your reaction. Once reaction is over double wrap in clean bags or cling film and freeze.
- Report the incident, with the Food Standards Agency which will be passed onto the environment Health or Trading Standards of the local authority where business is registered. Include names, if possible, time, food, date and mention that if you have a sample of food.
- If you have witnesses ask them to write down the incident, if they remember what you eaten, where it took place, when it took place, about your reaction. When reporting mention, you have these reports too.
- If you want to claim for compensation, then this would be best after the local authority has done their investigation and findings. It should be advised to get legal representation.
Eating out and the law
If you have a food allergy or intolerance, it is important that you have the information you need to make safe food choices.
If you are eating out, or preparing your own food, there are allergen labelling and information laws that require food businesses to provide you with information about what is in your food. (text Food Standards Agency)
Article 14 of the EC General Food Law Regulation prohibits unsafe food from being placed on the market. In determining if a food is unsafe, consideration must be given “to the information provided to the consumer, including information on the label, or other information generally available to the consumer concerning the avoidance of specific adverse health effects from a particular food or category of foods.”
Article 16 of the Regulation requires that the labelling, advertising, and presentation of food, including the information made available, should not mislead consumers.
Section 14 of the Food Safety Act 1990 makes it an offence for anyone to sell to the purchaser’s prejudice, any food which is not of the nature, substance or quality demanded by the purchaser.
Food Law Food Standards Agency
These lists are guidance only, and not fully extensive, people are advised that it is the responsibility of the individual when using this information.
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