Monday, July 15, 2013

BBQ Tips for Food Allergies

By Kelley Lindberg


Barbeques are a mainstay of summer. Whether we’re throwing some chicken on for a quick weeknight dinner or hosting a big ol’ summertime bash, our grills can be indispensable helpers. But if we have food allergies, we have to take a few extra steps to be sure that this weekend’s fun barbeque doesn’t end in a trip to the ER.

The first thing to consider is that food residue on a grill can be a problem. So if the grill you’re about to use has been exposed to food allergens in the past, you’ll want to use caution. For example, if your friend is allergic to seafood and you cooked salmon or shrimp on your grill last night, it’s not a good idea to cook your allergic friend’s food on that same grill. Just scraping the charred remains off of the grill isn’t good enough. If you can, first scraping the grill, then clean it thoroughly with soap and water until all residue is completely gone.

Remember that the grill lid may have residue on it, as well, which might drip onto cooking food. So clean the inside of the lid, too.

If you can’t clean the grill yourself (for example, if it’s someone else’s party and grill), then you still have options. First, you can wrap your food in aluminum foil – use heavy-duty foil or double-wrap it so that it won’t tear and expose the food to the contaminated grill or to other food that may be cooking at the same time. Second, you can use a grilling tray to separate your food from the grill itself. Third, bring food that can be cooked in the oven or in a skillet, and bypass the grill completely. Most hosts and hostesses will be more than happy to accommodate you, because no one wants to be the reason you had to rush to the hospital mid-party. Nothing puts a damper on a summer barbeque like having to call an ambulance.

Next, consider the seasonings that the grill-master is applying to your food. Ask to read the label of any packaged seasonings, marinades, or barbeque sauces that the cook may be liberally shaking or splashing onto the food. If any of the seasonings look suspicious, don’t hesitate to ask for your portion to be wrapped in aluminum foil first, to prevent cross-contamination.

Finally, take a look at all the other dishes being served. Potlucks are always problematic for food-allergic folks, but there are ways to make them a little more manageable. For example, if you can, enlist the host’s help to try to position the dishes with food allergens in them at the end of the serving table, so that the safe food gets served first, reducing the chance that anyone will drip sour cream or grated cheese onto the milk-free grilled zucchini. Separating the food allergen dishes from the safe dishes also helps prevent spoon-sharing between dishes.

Another hint is to ask the host if you can dish up the allergic person’s meal first, before everyone else begins to swarm the table.

And finally, the tried-and-true way to avoid problems at a barbeque is to eat your own meal at home before you arrive. Then at the party, you can enjoy a beverage with your friends without having to worry about the food at all.

Now, go fire up that grill and have a safe and happy barbeque!


7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for bringing up the subject of grilling. I was wondering if just the nut contains the allergy, or also the bark of the tree. Would it be safe for my nut allergic son to eat brisket that has been smoked with pecan wood?

Gratefulfoodie said...

Excellent BBQ tips. It never crossed my radar to think about the lid being layered in allergens.

Point well taken. I've used those wooden planks before but again, I did not pay attention to the lid.

Thank you for the life saving tips. Summer just got better thanks to you!

Kelley J. P. Lindberg said...

Great question -- if you're allergic to the nut, are you also allergic to the wood or bark? It appears that many physicians say that the wood and bark should be safe, even if you're allergic to the nut. I would recommend asking your allergist first, and if he/she says it's okay, give it a try. A food challenge is the only way to absolutely know how your child will react. But that's a scary way to do it, of course. So if you want to try using pecan wood charcoal, try it on a day when you have nothing else planned and can get to the ER quickly. (Don't try it for the first time while camping in the back-country!) The other good news about charcoal is that the high heat might help kill any lingering allergen proteins. But there's always a risk that the wood had actual pecans mixed in with it when it was fired...I think I would be nervous, even if assured it was okay. And I'm not an allergist, so please check with yours before trying it! Then let us know what you find out! Thank you!

Gordon Simmons said...


One of the confirmed well-working methods to clean Barbeque grill is depending on using aluminium foil. Nevertheless, some people prefer to make use of commercial oven cleaners rather than household products. If you select the second one technique, spray the cleaner within the grill and let this sit there for a number of minutes to half an hour or so. In fact, cleaning Canonbury specialists recommend exploring to use harsh chemical substance products on a location where they will possess direct contact with the food and you can make certain it doesn't matter exactly how well you rinse following applying the product.

Jade Graham said...

first scraping the grill, then clean it thoroughly with soap and water until all residue is completely gone. smokers need to purify their air

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