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How to Teach Food Allergies to Students

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Food Allergy Teaching Materials

Did you know that 85 million Americans have a food allergy?

When teaching kids to cook, it is important to teach food allergies and what to look for in recipes and food labels when cooking and preparing food to prevent allergic reactions. Read on for fun ways to teach food allergies to your middle and high school students.

Teaching Food Allergies Ideas

1- Have students brainstorm what they already know about food allergens. They can do a KWL (Know, Want to Know, Want to Learn) activity for students to complete first. They may know more than they realize! To do this, students make 2 long vertical lines and a horizontal line on the top. One column is labeled K, one is labeled W and one is labeled L. You will come back to the L at the end of the lesson when you circle back and have them fill in the last column about what they learned.

2- Show students this video “How to Avoid the Big 8 Food Allergens”. Videos are a great way to “hook” your students into the topic as it is colorful, fast-paced, and engaging.

3- Ask the students about people they know with food allergies or sensitivities. Discuss what experiences they have with food allergies and sensitivities. Most people know someone with a food allergy or food sensitivity. Also, discuss how cooking and ordering food can be a challenge for them. Have them imagine what it must be like to try to order food at a restaurant when you have a food allergy.

4– Use this free Food Allergies lesson and activities on TPT- Food Allergy Lesson and Activity. Students learn about the big 8 allergens through a slide show in either Google or PowerPoint. The students then read scenarios about preparing food for someone with allergies and they decide if the items can be served. They are then shown 2 recipes with food allergens in the ingredients. Students re-write the recipe with substitutes for the allergens. This lesson also includes information based on the Serv Safe program.

Food allergens lesson plan for high school and middle school.
This is a free resource on Teachers Pay Teachers
and can be a great way to introduce food allergies.

Extension Activity Ideas

  • 1- Students can research a specific allergen and create a slide show about the reactions to the food, substitutes for the food, recipes with the substitutes, and more. I love to have students share presentations that they made. It helps them to feel like an expert and what better way to learn than to teach something?
  • 2- Students can also bring in some items from their pantry and work together to find common allergens in the food based on the nutrition labels. You could also have students create a profile of someone with a food allergy and have them go through the ingredients to see what they can and cannot eat safely.
  • 3- Students can look up a restaurant menu and write a list of allergens included in the menu items. They can also find a restaurant that caters to people with allergies such as a gluten-free bakery, etc. and write how they accommodate them.
  • 4- Write a menu for someone with a food allergy– Students can use websites such as MyPlate and Canada’s Food Guide to help them create healthy meals for those with food allergies. We have a free activity for creating meal plans for those of different ages and you can modify this to add food allergies.
Food Allergies Activities for High School Culinary Arts
Students find the allergens in the list of ingredients and decide what they can serve.
Culinary Arts Food Allergy Activity for FACS and Culinary Arts
Students modify a recipe to substitute the allergens to serve a friend with food allergies.

Spotting food allergens is an ongoing skill that students will need as they cook in the classroom and at home. Check out our blog post about reading recipe activities for the classroom.

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