Having food allergies requires strict avoidance of allergens. Accidental ingestion of a certain food can be fatal. A person with multiple food allergens may end up with a very limited list of allowed foods. Keeping kosher involves additional dietary restrictions. The food awareness that Kosher’s compliance actually brings can facilitate the safe management of food allergies.
The Jewish laws of Kashrut prohibit the consumption of certain foods such as: pork, molluscs and insects. It is also forbidden to mix dairy products and meat. A grocery shopper who observes the laws of Kashrut cannot simply put any items in the cart. They are careful to buy foods with a reliable kosher certification that transmits strict adherence to these laws. If this buyer also needs to avoid certain foods due to food allergies, the list of allowed shopping cart items is further reduced.
Kosher’s compliance actually facilitates navigation in the world of food allergies. Being familiar with the search for labels for a hechsher (reliable kosher symbol) is good training for the additional label control required by food allergy diets. Since kosher consumers are used to separating milk and meat, they are used to checking a label for a dairy designation. Coping with dairy avoidance is easier if you already have a list of familiar alternatives it seemed (non-dairy). Reading the food allergy label should be taken one step further by becoming familiar with the various names of an allergen. If you are trying to avoid dairy products, they should also avoid: casein, lactose and galactose (the list is partial). Become familiar with the full spectrum of possible sources of the specific allergen.
Compliance with the Jewish Passover Kashrut offers additional benefits for food allergies. During the Easter holidays, bread and leavened cakes are prohibited.
Although not all Kosher foods for Jewish Passover are gluten-free, there are many. Easter products are also excellent for those who avoid soy and corn. Kintinyos branded products do not contain soy or corn based ingredients. Walnuts and eggs (2 of the most common food allergens) are very common in Easter products. The consumption of Easter products requires greater vigilance for people allergic to eggs and nuts.
Keeping kosher can offer some benefits to people who are allergic to food, but it’s still challenging. Having food allergies means constant vigilance. Family reunions, parties, synagogues and school-related food activities can pose significant risks.
The principles for navigating these events are the same as for anyone dealing with food allergies. The ingredients and preparation methods (for cross-contamination with allergens) must always be checked before eating. Allergic drugs should be easily accessible in case of accidental ingestion. With planning, preparation and vigilance, kosher food can be prepared in a delicious and safe way.