Food allergies or sensitivities, religious practices, and ideological beliefs are some of the main reasons people rely on specific diets or follow dietary restrictions.
Furthermore, there’s a wide variety of voluntary diets that have risen to fame in recent times. These aren’t always due to a food intolerance or allergy, but can restrict a similar if not greater range of foods.
While some restrictions are meant to prevent life threatening events, others speak to your guest’s personal and moral beliefs. Either way, they’re equally important.
When you are catering for a group of people, even just a dinner party, it is essential that you obtain a list of dietary restrictions and preferences before the time.
In fact, now more than ever, food allergies and intollerances are becoming increasingly prevalent and can pose a serious health risk. As the caterer, it’s important to be aware of any special dietary restrictions and requirement of your guests.
Ask about Dietary Preferences Upfront
Questions like, what is your meal preference for a specific dinner, do you have any food allergies, special dietary requirements, etc, are all topics you could look to cover on the front end. Keep the questions clear and to the point and don’t ask anything unnecessary.
If you are sending a written invitation, make sure you include a line about dietary requirements, either on the RSVP card, if you’re having them, or alongside the RSVP information. Something like, “Please let us know if you have any dietary requirements” is perfect.
What are Special Dietary Requirements?
A special diet is one that cannot be selected freely from the main choices available. This could be due to an allergy, intolerance or other medical need; or because people are following a religious or cultural diet; or a vegetarian or vegan diet.
We agree, that one of the main contributors to a successful event is being able to provide great food. And while it can be difficult to find a menu that accommodates every attendee’s taste, it can be equally difficult to accommodate their allergies and special dietary restrictions.
Common Special Dietary Requirements
There are many reasons for dietary constraints and they differ from person to person. Some of the more common ones include:
- Food allergies and intolerances — such as dairy free, fish and shellfish allergies, nut free and gluten free.
- Special dietary requirements — vegetarian, vegans and pregnancy. Veganism is a stricter form of the Vegetarian diet and is considered a lifestyle choice. Vegans will not consume or wear any clothes involved with animal bi-products.
- Religious reasons — halal, kosher. Most practicing Hindus do not eat meat and none eat beef since the cow is sacred to them. Many will seek a vegetarian food option.
Here are the common types of special diets:
- Gluten free and coeliac
- Dairy free and lactose free
- Nut and peanut allergies
- Fish and shellfish allergies
- The Ketogenic diet
Let’s take a closer look at some of these special diets:
Halal is an Arabic term which means permissible. The opposite of Halal is Haram or sometimes referred to as non-Halal. This refers to anything considered unlawful under Islamic teachings. In Islamic terms, Haram (prohibited) foods include pork, crustaceans, blood, non-halal animal-derived additives such as gelatine or suet, alcohol and any foods containing alcohol as an ingredient.
Kosher meat products need to be butchered in a certain manner and cannot include shellfish and pork. Guests keeping kosher will also refrain from eating dairy and meat at the same time.
Even the slightest contact with peanut residue can cause a dangerous allergic reaction. If you are serving foods cooked in peanut oil, or containing any trace of nut, it must be properly labelled, and prepared in a separate, sterile environment.
Diabetics aren’t able to produce insulin and need to continuously monitor their blood sugar levels. A diabetes diet simply means eating the healthiest foods in moderate amounts and sticking to regular mealtimes. A diabetes diet is a healthy-eating plan that’s naturally rich in nutrients and low in fat and calories. Key elements are fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
Celiac Disease (Gluten Free)
Guests with this condition as well as people who have a gluten intollerance need to eat gluten-free food products to prevent inflammation in their small intestine. Gluten is a family of proteins found in grains, including wheat, rye, spelt, and barley. Avoid all gluten-containing foods like breads, cakes, candy, cereals, gravy, pasta, pizza, pancakes, sauces, stuffing, soy sauce, veggie burgers …
Remember, once you are able to get all the information and dietary restrictions from your guests, you then must find catering staff that can make the necessary menu adjustments. Working close with your vendors and guests alike will ensure you don’t run into any issues on the day of the event.
Household Plastic is truly a one-stop-shop for catering. We stock a range of sizes of polystyrene foam trays, boxes and cups; cake boxes, tubs, punnets, platters, paper plates, cake boards, fruit and deli containers, pizza boxes, plastic bags, clingfilm an much more. We also stock paper table cloths and serviettes and plastic chairs and tables.