Allergy-Friendly Valentine’s Day: What You Should Know - McGovern Allergy And Asthma Clinic

Allergy-friendly Valentine’s Day gifts are important to plan for if a loved one or child’s classroom has a student with food allergies. Knowing some of the common allergens in Valentine’s Day treats and ideas for safe alternative gifts is a great way to ensure an allergy-friendly holiday!


Valentine’s Day Treats & Common Allergens

The day of love may be sweet for many, but for those with food allergies, the holiday can be dangerous if allergens are accidentally consumed. About 32 million people have food allergies or food intolerances in the United States, and over 200,000 end up in the emergency room due to a life-threatening reaction. Many sweet treats and candies commonly consumed on Valentine’s Day contain some of the most common food allergens, such as:

  • Milk
  • Eggs
  • Peanuts
  • Soy
  • Wheat
  • Tree Nuts
  • Corn
  • Gelatin


Reading & Checking Food Labels

Ensuring Valentine’s Day treats are allergy-friendly starts with learning how to read food labels and understanding what they mean. When reading a food label, the common name for the ingredient will be listed in parenthesis and typically will be listed toward the beginning of the ingredient list. For example, “whey (milk).” Make sure to read the entire list to check for allergens. After the main ingredients and usually at the end of the list is where manufacturers will list ‘may contain’ or ‘made in’ a facility that also produces a particular ingredient.

A good rule of thumb to follow when checking foods are allergy-friendly is not to consume anything that contains the ingredient or that is described as ‘may contain’ or ‘made in’ a facility that manufactures the food allergen. You can also look out for labels that state they are food allergy-friendly, but it’s important always to check food labels regardless. Even brands that claim to be allergy-friendly can contain food allergens.


Food Allergies & Children

Valentine’s Day is a big day for children to share sweet treats in the classroom with friends, but this can be a dangerous tradition for children with food allergies to participate in. It’s essential for parents of children with food allergies to communicate with their child’s school and prepare alternative Valentine’s Day gifts for the classroom with these tips

  • Be sure to communicate your child’s food allergies to their teacher and school if you haven’t already, and discuss an emergency action plan if an allergen is accidentally consumed.
  • Work with your child and school on how to read food labels to screen for candies that contain food allergens.
  • Also, discuss with your child on how to politely decline treats from other classmates that contain food allergens.
  • Give your child alternative and safe Valentine’s Day gifts to bring to the classroom, such as toys, games, prizes, etc.


Diagnosing Food Allergies with an Allergist

If you are unsure whether you or a loved one may have food allergies, make an appointment with your local allergist for food allergy testing. An allergist will determine which type of allergy testing will be appropriate to diagnose your food allergies. Allergy testing can be done through blood tests, skin testing, or an oral food challenge done in the clinic and supervised by an allergist. The Houston allergists at McGovern Allergy & Asthma Clinic can provide comprehensive food allergy testing to pinpoint the affecting food allergens and help provide a treatment plan. Their team of board-certified allergists have been caring for the allergy and asthma needs of Houston since 1956. Living with food allergies can be a struggle, but with the help of the McGovern allergists, you can have the tools to enjoy foods safely and live healthier and happier!

Call 713-661-1444 to schedule an appointment, or click the link to request one online.