When it comes to preparing food for a large crowd, it is important to consider people's taste, as well as their health. This means creating menus that include both tolerant and allergy-free foods. People of all ages can suffer from food aversions and intolerances; and the severity of their condition can range on a wide scale, from very minor and uncomfortable, to very serious or fatal.
For the sake of safety, liability, and consideration, it is always important to prepare menu spread with everyone's needs in mind. The first place to start is learning the difference between a food allergy and a food intolerance. This knowledge will help you better understand your potential menu options. Continue reading to do just that!
A food allergy is perceived as a toxin in a person's body. It triggers an exaggerated immune system response that affects multiple organ systems in an attempt to alert the body of the toxin. This can trigger additional physiological responses that overact and cause serious or fatal symptoms.
Food allergies are serious because some can lead to severe injuries or death. Even microscopic particles of food can cause an allergic reaction, even a fatal one. The most common food allergies include peanuts, shellfish, cow's milk, soy products, wheat, hen's eggs, and tree nuts like almonds, Brazilian nuts, hazelnuts, pecans, pistachios, and walnuts. These are called the “big 8” in the culinary world, and are the most familiar food aversions known to the general public.
Food Allergy Symptoms:
- Red Skin
- Swelling (face, eyes, cheeks, hands, feet, etc.)
- Anaphylaxis (difficulty breathing, dizziness and loss of consciousness, etc.)
- Respiratory Symptoms
In contrast to food allergies that affect the immune system, food intolerances affect the body's digestive system. When a person consumes food they are intolerant to, the digestive system has trouble breaking it down. This can be caused by a number of reasons, primarily a lack of essential enzymes, sensitivity to food additives, and reactions to naturally-occurring chemical in food (ie mycotoxins). Food intolerances are not life-threatening, but they can cause major discomfort and illness. In minor cases of food intolerance, people can consume small amounts without experiencing any substantive issues. The most common intolerances include glucose, lactose, Tyramine, food preservatives, and food additives.
Food Intolerance Symptoms:
- Fluid Retention
- Abdominal Distention
- Difficulty Breathing
When preparing food for a crowd, whether yourself or through catering services, be sure to keep both food aversions and intolerances in mind. There is a wide range of menu options that can do just that, so you will not have to sacrifice variety and flavor!