Eating and drinking have long been a part of celebrations and parties. However, for those with Food Allergies, navigating dinners at other’s homes can be dangerous. Unlabeled dishes can contain hidden allergens, sending your guest to the nearest hospital. Allergic reactions to food are so common, they send someone to the emergency room every three minutes. In America alone, 200,000 people need emergency medical care a year because of food allergies.

Don’t let allergens spoil the mood of your party. Making food that is allergy-free has never been easier and the effort is worth the happiness of your guest.

Here are some great Tips to keep your meals allergy-free.

1. Know their allergy

The most important step for any host is to know what their guest’s food allergy is. Be sure to find out all the foods they are allergic to and the severity of each allergy. Some allergies are only mild, but sometimes even trace amounts can trigger a severe reaction.

The Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE) reports people record allergic reactions to over 170 foods. However, most food allergies can be boiled down to eight different foods. These eight include eggs, dairy, gluten, crustacean shellfish, fish, soy, peanuts, and tree nuts.

2. Check labels

Once you know what to avoid, you can start shopping. If you are buying processed foods, be sure to check labels.

Some foods will list allergens right after the ingredients, but you may have to go looking through the entire list of ingredients. Many processed foods contain surprising allergens. For example, some pre-basted turkeys have dairy, soy, and wheat in them.

Even if a label doesn’t outright say it has an allergen, make sure it doesn't use any proteins or byproducts that come from food allergens.

Canned tuna can contain a milk protein that isn't labeled as “milk” under the ingredients. If you use box recipes, you may have to use substitutions for the ingredients. Do your research to make sure the alternative won’t change the texture and taste of your food.

3. Go natural

One of the easiest ways to avoid food allergies is to make dishes homemade.

While you do put in a little more effort, your guest will be extremely grateful. Instead of buying mixes that contain food allergies, use natural ingredients. Some recipes from scratch are so good, your Guests with or without allergies won’t be able to tell the difference.

Another great way to stay allergy-free when hosting a large party is to use raw veggie and fruit trays. While it may not rival the cookie platter in some eyes, having food all your guests can eat will make you host of the year. Be sure to label whether the dip is allergy-free or leave it in its original container for guests to check the label themselves

4. Buy already made dishes or mixes

If cooking everything homemade isn’t your style, check out your local stores for pre-made dishes.

You can also use clearly labeled mixes that are allergy-free. From small businesses to corporations, allergy-free foods are more popular and available than ever before. Health food stores or specialized bakeries have lots of options for your guests, whatever their allergies may be.

5. Be careful of contamination

When your guest has a severe allergy, even the slightest amount of allergen can trigger it. Keep them safe by avoiding cross-contamination of dishes. Whether you are cooking, storing, or serving, contamination is easy if you aren’t careful.

Clean all surfaces and kitchenware before you start cooking. Make allergy-free dishes first and be sure to cover them when you’re done. That way, food spills or accidental mixing won’t spoil your delicious food.

When serving, use separate utensils for each dish and give allergen-free dishes their own little area. Not only will it prevent contamination, but will make your guests feel extra special with food just for them.

6. Label your dishes

Make sure your guests know which food they can enjoy by marking which dishes are okay for them to eat and which aren’t. You can use an ingredient list, a list of allergens, or any other creative way to let guests know. Labeling food is especially helpful for kids with food allergies.

If you’re hosting a potluck or having guests bring a dish with them, you can still label dishes. Ask guests who bring food to make an ingredient card so others know what’s inside the dish.

You can make it fun by asking them to label their foods with the recipe. Your guests will get to trade recipes for their favorite foods while still knowing exactly what they’re eating.

Food allergies become more prevalent every year, especially in children. However, allergens are becoming easier to detect and easier to avoid. As a host, you have never had more options and resources to make your dinners allergy-free. Make your dinner parties the best and most accommodating for your guests.