Q: How do I handle guests' food allergies?

A: Food allergies are a more serious concern than dietary preferences such as vegetarianism or a low-carb diet. While a strict vegan might simply find less available to them at the buffet, a triggered food allergy can have serious health consequences.

People with dangerous food allergies typically take appropriate precautions. If you know of close friends and family members with food allergies, you can mention it to your caterer so that they can either avoid that ingredient or let you know where they plan to use it so that you can let people know.

When you're planning a large gathering such as a wedding reception, you don't have to ask each guest about individual food restrictions. If you know that many of your friends are vegetarians or avoid a certain food for religious reasons, discuss some appropriate dishes and options with your caterer. That way, everybody will find something he or she enjoys. Buffets are the best option to accommodate a wide range of restrictions and allergies, as guests can pick and choose what works for them, filling up on vegetarian lasagna and skipping the chicken with peanut sauce.—Anna Post, The Emily Post Institute

See all questions about food and drink etiquette

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