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Corporate Event Planning: Allergen-Friendly Meals and Snacks Are Essential

The ultimate guide to corporate event catering to ensure a pleasant experience for all guests.

Food is at the heart of any corporate event. It helps create lasting impressions and forge connections among individuals. When planning for a corporate event, food options should be tasty, well-presented, and accommodate diverse dietary requirements, ensuring people with food allergies and unique nutritional needs can have a pleasant dining experience.

Discover why it is important to cater to dietary requirements at corporate events and some strategies to ensure a safe and inclusive environment for everyone.


Catering to dietary needs at corporate events

There are many reasons why it’s essential to cater to the dietary needs of many individuals, including:


Serve guests with food allergies

Food hypersensitivity is a growing health concern, affecting more than 10% of the general population. Within a few moments after exposure to an allergen, an individual can experience potentially life-threatening symptoms, including difficulty in breathing and tightness in the throat. When organizing a corporate event, you must be familiar with dietary restrictions to avoid food emergencies.


Promote dietary inclusivity

Knowing people’s dietary requirements promotes inclusivity, ensuring suitable options are available for everyone. Understanding these restrictions is vital for health reasons, as many are associated with sensitivities or medical conditions apart from allergies. Here are some of the common special and religious dietary requirements:

  • Gluten-free: This diet is essential for people with celiac disease and gluten intolerance. Foods like pasta, bread, and baked goods made with barley, rye, or wheat are prohibited. People resort to alternatives like rice, corn, and other gluten-free foods.
  • Dairy-free: People follow this diet due to lactose intolerance, dairy allergies, and environmental concerns.
  • Vegetarian: Plant-based foods like vegetables, legumes, whole grains, fruits, and nuts constitute a vegetarian diet.
  • Vegan: Vegans refuse to eat any food from animals, including eggs, honey, and dairy products. People who follow this diet consume fruits, vegetables, and snacks without eggs and butter.
  • Pescatarian: An individual following a pescatarian diet eats seafood but doesn’t consume other types of meat.
  • Halal: This translates to permissible foods under Islamic laws. Foods considered halal include fruits, vegetables, and dairy products. Meats such as beef, chicken, lamb, and turkey should be slaughtered according to Islamic guidelines.


What are the most common types of food allergies?

Many food options can cause adverse reactions, but these are considered the most common allergens:

  • Milk
  • Peanut
  • Egg
  • Soy
  • Tree Nuts, such as almonds, pecans, and walnuts
  • Wheat
  • Fish
  • Shellfish, such as lobster, crab, and shrimp
  • Sesame

Consider eliminating meals with these ingredients when planning for your corporate event’s menu to ensure a safe and enjoyable eating experience for your guests.


7 considerations for corporate event meal planning

There’s no cure for food allergies. Even small amounts can trigger a reaction in some people. As a planner, you need to ensure everyone’s needs are met. Implement the following strategies to ensure your guests’ safety.


1. Ask attendees for food allergies

Inquire about your guests’ food restrictions in advance via email or an online form. You should also inform participants how food will be labeled and served and who handles food concerns on-site. Provide a deadline so you have ample time to game plan with the event caterer.


2. Choose the best corporate event caterer

When interviewing potential caterers, ensure to communicate the various dietary restrictions of your guests. Inquire about their past experiences in customizing catering menus for specific situations. The ideal caterer will take extra precautions to avoid cross-contamination and can provide a wide variety of appealing meal options. Inquire about how they prepare, pack, and transport food to ensure a safe dining experience for your guests.


3. Prepare your catering budget

Accommodating dietary preferences can be costly, but if it means ensuring an enjoyable event, it’s worth every penny. Communicate clearly with your caterer so they understand your requirements accurately. Remember to overestimate your headcount to account for last-minute participants. Having too much food is better than leaving some guests hungry.


4. Plan allergen-friendly meals

Have a wide variety of simple meal options when designing a menu. Vegan tofu skewers are an excellent example since everyone can see the ingredients used. For entrees and desserts, keep at least one simple and allergen friendly. Provide elements that allow participants to customize their meals. For instance, offer a variety of table condiments that people with food intolerances can add to their meals. Provide BBQ sauce, salad dressings, and soy sauce free from artificial additives and certified vegan so people with allergies, intolerances, and other medical conditions can enjoy food without worries. Choose products approved by the Gluten-Free Certification Organization (GFCO) to ensure your options have passed strict standards.


5. Put labels on dishes

Letting guests know the food options is the first step in guaranteeing everyone knows what they can and cannot eat. Another reason why it’s essential to cater to dietary requirements at corporate events is that the information will be used for menus and dish labels. You can use display cards to list the ingredients. You could also note special dietary requirements, such as gluten-free and vegan, on each meal label. With a buffet setup, know that food prepared in bulk might have allergens. To help relieve anxiety and ensure safety, provide food-allergic individuals with personalized meal courses to reduce the risk of severe reactions.


6. Include allergen-free snacks

In addition to entrees, offer allergen-free snacks like dried fruits and granola bars throughout the event so all participants have accessible options. Salted popcorn is also an excellent option for people with lactose intolerance.


7. Create an emergency plan

Ensure that your venue has emergency procedures in place. Does the location have epinephrine on-site? Do you have a medical assistant trained to administer it? Hiring one for the day is best to ensure the event goes smoothly. Follow the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Emergency Care Plan that outlines recommended treatment in case of an allergic reaction so people in the venue know what to do in an emergency.


Plan a safe and enjoyable corporate event

The importance of catering to dietary needs during corporate events goes beyond health considerations. It’s also about ensuring a pleasant experience for all guests. Through transparent communication and productive collaboration with your catering team, you can provide a worry-free dining experience for everyone.


Beth Rush is the career and finance editor at Body+Mind. She has 5+ years of experience writing about the power of human design to reveal entrepreneurial potential and time management strategies. She also writes about using the emotion of awe to activate our leadership prowess. You can find her on Twitter @bodymindmag. Subscribe to Body+Mind for more posts by Beth Rush.


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