APPENDIXCooking Around Allergies

FOOD ALLERGIES ARE CAUSED BY AN IMMUNE SYSTEM RESPONSE TO CERTAIN TYPES OF PROTEINS. In some individuals, the immune system misidentifies certain proteins as harmful and generates a histamine reaction in response to them.

Immune reactions can occur within a few minutes to several hours of the person ingesting the offending food item. Minor reactions include a tingling sensation on the tongue or lips, itchy eyes, runny nose, or skin rashes lasting from a few hours to a day. More extreme reactions include throat constriction, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, coughing, and possibly death.

If you ever encounter a reaction that involves tongue swelling, throat constriction, or restricted breathing—hallmarks of an anaphylactic reaction—call emergency services (911 in the US and Canada) and get to a hospital immediately. The swelling can increase to the point where it cuts off the airway. Those who know that they have particularly strong allergies will often carry an EpiPen, a small pen-sized medical device that auto-injects epinephrine to control the allergic reaction. (The injection buys 15 to 20 minutes of time to get to a hospital for further care.)

Since an allergy is a response to a particular protein in food, not the food itself, and because some types of proteins denature below the temperature at which the foods containing them are cooked, certain allergies apply only to uncooked foods. Your guests will be able to tell you their particular constraints. ...

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