When booking a catering function it is very important that you ascertain whether any of your guests have any special dietary requirements. I don’t mean to exaggerate this issue but it really could be the difference between life and death for some people.
Anaphylaxis is a reaction to the ingestion of a substance resulting from contact with a substance. It can cause the throat to swell and in extreme cases cause death. This is why it is extremely important that you make your guests fully aware that they need to disclose any special dietary requirements during the whole catering process.
According to the Health Department of Western Australia there are nine food products which cause 90% of all anaphylactic allergic reactions. These foods are: peanuts, tree nuts (such as hazelnuts, cashews, almonds), egg, cow’s milk, wheat, soybean, fish, shellfish and sesame.
Special Dietary Requirements
A good catering company should have contingencies in place which will enable your guests with severe allergic reactions to be able to be included in the party catering. There are a lot of great products available for purchase if your caterer doesn’t feel confident enough to make them. The last thing you want is someone to have a bad reaction to your party food. It is bad for you as the host/ess of an otherwise great party, really bad for the unfortunate person who accidently consumed the food and also bad for the catering company who provided the food to the person.
As well as anaphylactic reactions there are also cultural and/or religious sensitivities to certain products. This is not as important as the potentially fatal prior example, but it is something that should be thought about when talking with your catering company.
Kosher Special Dietary Requirements
Kosher food for practicing Jews is difficult to navigate as a host/ess and as a catering company. There are various interpretations of what kosher means and different Jews have different needs. However, if there are people coming to your party who are observant Jews then there are a few common threads which seem to have consensus, these are; animals must have a cloven hoof and chew its’ cud – this is the reason for no pork. Fish must have fins and scales that can be removed without tearing the skin, no monkfish, shark, tuna, eels, shrimp, mussels, crabs, clams, lobster and so on. Jews can eat any bird except birds of prey and all fruit and vegetables are kosher. No meat and milk at same meal, for example steak and mashed potatoes made with butter or milk/cream or any meat with cheese like a spicy beef pizza.
Halal Special Dietary Requirements
Muslims have a similar menu selection to the aforementioned Jewish menu selection. Muslims are not allowed pork, meat from carnivorous animals (ie only vegetarian animals allowed), meat from an animal that has not been properly slaughtered in the name of God, and intoxicants, such as alcohol. There is a prohibition against the eating of dead animals. According to Islamic Jurisprudence, this includes animals that die by drowning, fire, electrocution, trauma, or by boiling while alive. Permitted animals must be killed by conscious slaughter or by hunting to allow (the most) blood to flow. The exceptions to these rules are generally creatures from the sea, which may die while in open air.
Your caterer should have procedures in place for all of the above special menu and dietary requirements and a good catering company would bring these to your attention as the host/ess of a great party function. There are some great products out there to buy which are governed by organisations to safeguard against cross contamination or negligence, so there really is no excuse why everyone should not be catered for.