Barbecuing When Guests Have Food Allergies or Intolerances

Barbecues should be events filled with music, laughter and carefree fun. Less amusing however is someone taking ill, sometimes seriously, due to a food allergy or intolerance.

Food allergies are something that needs to be taken seriously. When it comes to catering for any event, asking for preferences such as does everyone eat meat is not enough. Being clued up on allergies is important and not only makes your barbecue party more pleasant but can also give you powerful insight if you witness a reaction elsewhere.


What is the Difference between Allergies and Intolerances?

There are differences between food allergies and intolerance. An intolerance is rarely very serious however can be quite unpleasant, causing sickness, diarrhoeh and a whole host of nasty side effects for days after ingestion.

Allergies however can be lethal. Not only are food allergies serious but they can be caused by very small amounts of food and the reaction is usually instantaneous.


Allergic Reaction Symptoms:

Allergic reaction can vary in their severity dependant on the individual however the common list of symptoms to watch for includes:

  • Skin reactions such as hives, redness, itching, and swelling (a rash around the mouth is a good indication of the reaction being to something that has been eaten).
  • Runny rose, sore, red or itchy eyes and even coughing can be indicators of an allergy
  • Breathing difficulties such as wheezing are a serious sign of an allergic reaction as swelling in the airway could be fatal if severe.
  • Being sick, diarrhoea, nausea and even bloating need to be recognised as signs of a food allergy.

In cases of severe allergy an individual can suffer from a severe reaction which is referred to as anaphylactic shock or anaphylaxis. In cases such as these the sufferer may be carrying an Epi-pen which is loaded with adrenalin, certainly if they have had this reaction previously. A responsible person needs to inject the person in shock and an emergency ambulance should be called.


Avoiding Food Reactions:

Obviously the best way to avoid one of your barbecue guests being taken ill is to be aware of allergies and intolerances and ensure that you avoid any foods that may cause a serious reaction. Due to the risks associated with cross contamination, it would be wise, remembering that a mere trace can cause a reaction, to completely avoid cooking with likely allergens.

Marinades, sauces, salad dressing and a variety of foods that come premade can contain ingredients that may well cause a reaction. Ensure that you read labels and containers carefully.

Provide alternatives such as gluten free marinades and wheat free alternatives to bread should you be aware that a certain guest is intolerant these. At the very least label foods in a way that shows which contain foods that a guest in intolerant to.



The best tool to use when avoiding inflicting an allergy or food intolerance on any of your guests is to simply be aware. Ask in advance if any quests or their likely plus ones have any issues that you should know about. This is no different to ensuring that there is a meat free alternative for vegetarians or non-alcoholic drinks for drivers and those that choose not to have alcohol for any reason.

Enjoy your barbecue knowing that all of your friends and family can enjoy it too, without worrying about a nasty reaction.


Something that doesn’t need to be worried about is the type of barbecue that you’ve got. Whether it’s a charcoal or gas barbecue we hope you have delicious but safe experience.