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Tips on Bringing an Allergen-Free Treat to the Next Kids Party

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By Amanda Shanahan

You’ve likely wondered about which treat to bring to a kids party that would be safe and appealing for all partygoers, especially for children with food allergies.

After all, your child will likely have a friend or a classmate at some point who is allergic to certain foods, such as peanuts, tree nuts, milk, soy, wheat or eggs. Many of these ingredients are found in common snacks.

Four out of every 100 children suffer from food allergies, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These children could react badly to an ingredient in that party treat — whether they get a tingling sensation around the mouth, hives or a more life-threatening reaction.

The following are tips for parents on how to make and buy allergen-free foods.

When You Bake

Even a hint of a food on a utensil could trigger an allergic reaction in a child. Remember to thoroughly wash anything that you are using to bake an allergen-free treat (pans, spatula, etc.).

If you are making multiple foods, cook the allergen-free meal first and keep it away from whatever else you are making. Wash your hands with soap and warm water after handling the allergy-causing food and before handling the allergen-free one.

When baking, you could also substitute the allergy-causing food with something else. You could swap out milk for water or fruit juice and substitute wheat with different types of flour.

See Cooking & Baking Tips from the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network for more information.

What to Make or Buy

Check with the allergic child’s parent or teacher (or school nurse’s office) to see if they have a list of which foods are safe for children with food allergies.

Read this list of Recipes from the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network for inspiration on what to make (such as double-layer birthday cake). Or see these Allergen-Free Recipes from the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (such as snicker doodles and pumpkin pie).

Are you buying a treat at a grocery store? By law, the label on a product should list which major allergens are in the food. But the label may not include allergens that have unintentionally slipped into the food due to “cross-contact,” according to the Food and Drug Administration.

If you have questions about a particular food, the grocery store’s Web site may be able to help. The Wegmans Web site, for example, includes contact information for people who have allergy-related questions about the Wegmans brand of foods.

The Wegmans Web site also lists manufacturers’ contact information if you want to go directly to a food company such as Nabisco or Pillsbury and inquire about their products.

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Amanda Shanahan is a Registered Dietitian and Manager, Health and Wellness Programs, at Excellus BlueCross BlueShield. For more tips on staying healthy, visit www.excellusbcbs.com.

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