Food Storage Essentials for People With Allergies

By Trista
Food Storage Essentials for People With Allergies

You always need to be safe when cooking and storing food, but it’s more essential to watch your p’s and q’s when there are allergies in the mix. Many people are allergic to certain types of food, including spices, coconut, and dairy. Other people struggle with seasonal allergies that can spike during certain times of the year and make cooking, eating, and even being around specific packages more challenging. 

Even the tiny amount of food can cause someone with allergies to have an allergic reaction. Some people are highly allergic that they start to show symptoms to a response when they’re near the food. The bottom line is if you allow allergens to enter your home, your risk contaminating all of your food. That is one reason why many people feel that you shouldn’t bring any type of allergens into your home, but this isn’t always possible for several reasons.

Plus, it’s vital to ensure that everyone is thoroughly prepared for any emergency with the current situation. It means you need tips to ensure the safety of your friends and loved ones with allergies. Therefore, you want to do everything you can to minimize any risk when it comes to storing food for people with allergens.

If you like your food a little spicy but allergic to soy, you will want to try Mountain House’s new Chicken Fajita Bowl meal. Shutterstock.

Mountain House

Mountain House is a company that focuses on people who have food allergies. They want to make it as easy as possible to eat healthy food without worrying about what ingredients are in there. So, they make tables available and create allergen-free foods. 

One of their top foods is the Chicken Fajita Bowl, which comes in both pouches and large cans. The trick is you need to ensure you buy their recently changed food. Before 2017, they put soy and other ingredients into their mixture. After 2017 they changed their list to ensure everyone can eat their yummy meals. 

Understand the big 8 and always pay attention when you have people with allergies in your home or running a business with food. Shutterstock.

Remember The Big 8

The trick Mountain House uses is that they remember the big 8 when it comes to creating their meals. That means that they consider all 8 major food allergies, so people don’t need to worry about the ingredients. While there are still a few rare food allergies, you’ll find that nearly all Mountain House and many other companies exclude the big 8 from their meals. 

You can also remove these items from your home if you want to help your family members and friends. They include milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, shellfish, soy (soybeans), wheat, and fish. These ingredients are known to cause about 90% of all food allergies. 

Wheat can be very pretty in a picture, but when you deal with allergies, it can become dangerous quickly. Shutterstock.

If You Have Gluten Or Wheat Allergies

Many people have wheat or gluten allergies, which means they can’t eat wheat, pasta, or flour. It makes many people question what they can make for their loved ones and friends with these allergies. Some of the best ingredients to use instead are cornmeal, oatmeal, and white rice. You can also get other grains like millet and quinoa. 

You can store these items just as well as wheat. You can purchase them in bulk and use air-tight containers, buckets, or no. 10 cans. Several emergency preparedness stores are starting to sell gluten-free items, such as Augason Farms and Grandma’s Country Foods. While these ingredients are usually more expensive, they’re a lot safer to have in your home when dealing with wheat or gluten allergies. 

Many businesses will not tell you when their food is allergy-free through notices like “Gluten Free” on their package. Shutterstock.

Augason Farms 

As mentioned above, Augason Farms is one of the many companies starting to follow Mountain House. They understand the big 8 and do everything they can to make meals, especially for emergencies, for people with food allergies. Their larger cans of food have a shelf life that will last 10 to 15 years. 

The company’s Director of Materials, Garry Carlson, is open about the policies they follow and how strict they are to create foods for people with main allergies. He states, “Augason Farms as a company takes great care in handling our products, especially when it comes to allergens. We are an SQF Facility, meaning that we are held to a higher standard of inspection, including policies and procedures when handling all foods, including foods that have allergens.”

Stay away from any type of cross-contamination as allergens can easily make their way into allergy-free food. Shutterstock.

Do Your Best Not To Cross Contaminate

You know you don’t want to cross-contaminate meat products, but many people don’t think of this when it comes to the big 8 of food allergies. For example, you don’t want to use one spoon to mix eggs and then a mixture of dairy-free food for a person with egg allergies. Even if you’re careful, bits of the egg can get into the other meal and be disastrous for a person with dairy allergies. 

You also don’t want to cross-contact an ingredient before you serve it, by an allergen from a different product, or containers without washing them thoroughly. You might feel it’s best to use separate storage containers, mainly if you use plastic and warmed up the meal in the container. 

One of the keys when it comes to food storage and preparedness with allergens is to educate yourself.

Be Properly Informed 

If you find out that you, a family member, or friend has a food allergy take time to do a little research and ask questions. One of the biggest reasons reactions happen is because someone is misinformed about the allergy and accidentally gives the person food with the ingredient, such as soy or milk, in it.

Read all food labels carefully and even do a little research on the company to ensure they take the property safety measures not to cross-contaminate themselves. 

Stay away from legumes if you have an allergy. Shutterstock.

Allergies To Legumes

Legumes are another common food allergy that’s easy to substitute. You can eat canned meats, such as tuna and chicken breast. Canned foods have a shelf life of several years; the key is to understand how much to make to make sure your family eats. For instance, a 10 to 12-ounce can is enough for four to six people. 

Canned meat used to be hard to come by, except for Tuna and Chicken, but many other types of meat are becoming popular. You can buy canned beef at any store from Costco to Sam’s Club. You can also find sausage and turkey chunks. 

Another great company that focuses on keeping allergens away from allergy-free food is Valley Food Storage. Shutterstock.

Valley Food Storage

Valley Food Storage is another company that is focused on eliminating the big 8, so everyone has a chance to eat their food. However, their most popular allergy-free foods are the line of dairy-free freeze-dried foods. The company has many strict policies to ensure there is no cross-contamination, such as cleaning the production line between runs. 

Another bonus of Valley Food Storage is they make their meals in large quantities. They’re known to last about one to three months, depending on how many members are in your family. The company requests that contact them to request allergy-free bundles. Another benefit is the food is known to have a shelf life of 25 years. 

Separate your food, so you don’t accidentally mix allergens with allergy-free food. Shutterstock.

Separate Your Stored Food

You know cross-contamination is something you want to avoid. But most people don’t realize that your food can do this through storage containers. Therefore, you want to separate your allergy items from the non-allergy things. You should also make sure that your various allergy items are separated from each other. It means that you do not want to mix dairy with soy products. 

You can separate your items by using different shelving units. For example, you can put all non-allergy foods into one unit. You can then place all allergy foods separately in another group. It means that you will want dairy products in one section, wheat in another, and keep soy separate from these sections.  

If you have young children with milk allergies, note on their cups that they’re not to have any type of milk products due to allergies. You could simply label the container “non-dairy.” Shutterstock.

Allergies To Milk

Milk is considered a dairy allergy, but some people are just allergic to milk. It means that they might be able to have eggs and non-milk products. Other people don’t have a severe reaction: they can have a little milk when mixed with food. However, they cannot drink milk from a glass because their body can’t tolerate it. 

Fortunately, for people who have a strong reaction to milk, there are many options available, such as powdered soy milk. You can also get Country Cream Powdered Soy Milk from Grandma’s Country Foods. To give substitute liquid milk extended shelf life, you want to store it near the back of the fridge. However, it is best to purchase powdered milk, as this has the most extended shelf life. 

When it comes to companies, try to find out how they store and create their food, so you buy the best for people with allergies. Shutterstock.

Look At Millennium Energy Bars

There are a lot of snacks and energy bars available for people to eat. They have a long shelf life and are great to help take the hunger away for a while. The trick is to read the whole list of ingredients to know that you won’t eat a bar that can cause an allergic reaction. 

Millennium bars are a great choice because they don’t contain peanuts or dairy, which is a common ingredient in granola and other snack bars. However, there are very few options that don’t have gluten. Fortunately, companies are working on changing this, so pay attention to your grocery shelves because they could make it to your area soon!

Training any staff that will work with food to ensure everything is packaged and stored correctly can help decrease any issues with allergens. Shutterstock.

Train Your Staff

If you own a business that focuses on food, you want to take time to train your staff so they know the critical details of food allergies. For example, companies like Valley Food Storage have clear training programs and guidelines for their team to follow. That is also important for grocery stores and other places that sell and serve a variety of food. 

For instance, if you train cooks and servers, they should get in-depth training as well. It does take a little more time, but it’s worth it to ensure that all your staff and customers are safe, and allergy foods will not cross-contaminate with non-allergy foods. 

Take time to label all of the food you store with what it is if it’s allergy-free and the date. Shutterstock.

Don’t Forget To Label

You learned a bit about how to organize your allergy foods with non-allergy foods. At the same time, it’s important to remember to label these foods clearly. While some cans come labeled, if you dehydrate or freeze-dry your own meals to extend shelf life, you need to label the package. 

That means you will want to write down all the ingredients in the container and when you put it into storage. If you add more food of the same, move the older food to the front for easy access. 

Take time to think of ways to help your children understand what food is safe and not safe. You can do this by having “safe” food labeled in one area and “unsafe” food labeled in a different space. Shutterstock.

Label Foods So Children Understand

It’s going to happen. Your little ones will get into the cupboards when you don’t expect it. They know where the snacks are and find a chair or whatever device they can to get what they want. The biggest problem is that not all of your snack food might be safe for children with allergies. Another problem, they won’t read the label to know what is safe or not because they don’t understand as you do. 

Of course, you store the food separately, but this doesn’t mean your children won’t find the unsafe food. So what can you do as another added measure? Mark the food they can eat as “safe” and the food they can’t eat as “unsafe.” These are both simple words that you can teach your young children who might not read well yet. They also help other people know what foods your children can have and what they can’t. 

Even though you probably want to get in and out of the store quickly, it’s important to take your time grocery shopping when you’re dealing with food allergies. Shutterstock.

Shop Carefully

Another essential to keep in mind is to shop carefully. You want to take extra time to make sure that you’re purchasing food your family member or guest can eat. It always becomes a little trickier when food allergies are involved because you never know if soy or milk is included in the food until you usually buy it. 

Take time to read the full ingredient list carefully and any other statement on the package that explains what it contains. Most companies will have a contains statement which focuses on the prominent 8 ingredients. 

Talk to your guests about their allergies so you know the severity, what can happen, and how to prepare their food. Shutterstock.

Talk To Your Guest About Their Food Allergies

Chances are you won’t go grocery shopping right before your guests arrive. Therefore, you need to shop for them the day before or even earlier. Because of this, you want to ensure you’re taking all the steps necessary, so they don’t have an allergic reaction later. 

Talk to your guest about their allergies. Do they have a system at home, or what have other guests done? Is there more practice you can follow than merely keeping the food separated? What happens to them if they have an allergic reaction? You want to know how severe it can get. At the same time, you need to make sure they feel at home like your other guests, so be gracious with them. Make sure you have enough food for them. 

Thoroughly clean your kitchen before, during, and after the cooking process to help eliminate allergens. Shutterstock.

Clean Up Throughout The Cooking Process

It tends to take more time, but you want to make sure that your kitchen area is clean, especially if you’re working with allergy and non-allergy food in the same area. Take the extra steps to clean all surfaces before and after you prepare the food and eat. 

It includes your dining room table. Allergy food is excellent at leaving little particles around to make their way into other food. You won’t even realize that it is happening until it’s too late. You don’t need to disinfect the area as that can be dangerous for all food. Just use warm, soapy water. Don’t rely on hand sanitizer to keep your hands clear of allergens as this doesn’t kill them. 

Make sure that you have any medication the person with allergies needs on hand, especially in your emergency preparedness kit. Shutterstock.

Don’t Forget About The Medical Supplies

Things happen. No matter how much you prepare and how careful you are when it comes to separating allergens from certain foods – an allergic reaction can still occur. Therefore, when you take your measures to pack for a natural disaster, you want to ensure that you pack medical supplies. You want to make a list of everything that the person with allergies needs to keep themselves healthy and to calm down any reaction. 

If you need to purchase more medication, talk to your doctor or pharmacy first. They might have other ideas on how to prepare for a disaster. It’s also essential to ensure that you don’t let medication sit for a long time because they lose their effectiveness. 

One tip when cooking for people with allergies is to think that everyone has the same allergy or make the allergy-free meal first. Shutterstock.

Make The Allergen-Free Meal First

One of the biggest mistakes people make when preparing food for people with allergies is making it the same as making other food. To take the extra safety precautions, you want to make the food for the person with allergies. That allows you to prepare it without worrying about any air-born allergens getting mixed in with the food. It also allows you to clean up and put it away safely before you start preparing the other meals. 

When doing this, you want to make sure that you continue to use different utensils. Again, remember to thoroughly clean the counters and area before you bring out the non-allergy food. 

Look for food storage containers that say “allergy free,” so you know they are 100% safe. Shutterstock.

Allergen-Free Containers

Another direction to look to help loved ones and guests with their allergies is to find allergy-free containers. You can purchase them through companies like Food Service Direct or on Amazon. They are a bit more costly than other containers, but they help keep your foods separated and make sure that cross-contamination doesn’t happen. 

These containers are similar to other Tupperware in that they’re dishwasher safe, clear, and safe for all types of food storage. Another bonus is this Tupperware say they are “Allergen Free” so you can easily keep them separated from your other Tupperware.

It’s common for vapors to float in the air when you’re cooking, including allergens. Shutterstock.

Think About Vapors In The Air

There are different levels of allergic reactions. Some people will show a reaction when they are in the presence of the allergen, while others need to digest it. You must know what level the person entering your home is so you can take all the precautions necessary. 

One step to take is not to allow anyone allergic to particular food into the kitchen area when it is cooking. Airborne allergens always can make their way into the person’s system and cause a reaction. You should also keep them out of the kitchen for at least 30 minutes after cleaning up. 

Ensure everyone in your family and friends is on the same page when it comes to allergies in your home. Shutterstock.

Make Sure Everyone Is On The Same Page

There are many people involved when it comes to food storage, even in your own home. With the current situation, you understand that emergencies can happen, and this is probably one reason you want to keep your food stocked. But, you can’t forget about everyone in your home or people around you that might contact your food and people with allergies. 

When it comes to your family, come up with a plan, and let everyone know what it is. For example, explain to your children that allergy-free food has to remain separated from food with allergens. Show them how they can follow this process and tell why it is crucial. Write up your plan and guidelines, so everyone has a chance to look them over when they need to. 

Create an emergency grab bag for food while keeping all allergy-free food separate. Shutterstock.

Assemble Grab Bags

With the current crisis, you know that emergencies can happen. Sometimes you’re not able to stay in your home when natural disasters or other dangers arise. You don’t know what type of food is available when you get to community shelters or the Red Cross. They might not have allergy-free foods. You also don’t know how their meals were stored and packaged. 

Therefore, you want to consider your family member with allergies and make sure you have grab bags handy for them. Most emergency personnel state that it’s best to ensure you have three days worth of food and water ready to go at a moment’s notice. 

As the days go on, more companies are starting to show what foods are allergy-free and what foods aren’t directly on their packaging. Shutterstock.

Look For Dry Foods That Are Allergy-Friendly

You might not have noticed yet, but certain dry foods are turning more allergy-friendly. Major companies are seeing that a large percentage of the population can’t try their yummy food because of allergies. Therefore, they are moving in a direction that creates more food that’s allergy-friendly. 

For example, certain cereals don’t have wheat or other allergens. They will usually advertise this on the package by stating it is allergy-free. They will also note when one of their items are gluten-free. 

Look for companies like Survival Frog to give you some of the best food and tips for allergies. Shutterstock.

Survival Frog

Another up and coming company that focuses on allergy-free foods is Survival Frog. They work with many other companies, such as Mountain House, to ensure that their ingredients get to as many stores as possible. That not only gives people with allergies peace of mind but also more options. 

Another benefit of Survival Frog is that they are here to help you get the best emergency preparedness tips for people with allergies. They focus on storage, planning, and creating a first aid and emergency food kit. They also have many tips for parents with young children who have food allergies. 

Sources:

“Food Storage Essentials: Food storage ideas for those with allergies.” Leslie Probert, Desert News. August 2011. 

“FOOD SAFETY: ALLERGY COMPLIANCE TIPS FOR FOOD STORAGE AND WAREHOUSES.” Remax Doors Warehouse Blog. 

“Prepping with food allergies.” Valorie Violette, The Prepared. July 2017.

“Safe Cooking for Food Allergies.” Christine Mikstas, WebMD. October 2018. 

“The 10 Best Survival Food Companies of 2020.” Erica Puisis, The Spruce Eats. May 2020

“Preparing for Natural Disasters When Your Family Has Food Allergies.” Kids with food allergies. July 2015. 

“6 Top Tips for Keeping Allergens in Control in Your Kitchen.” Meg Nohe, Allergic Living. August 2016. 

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