What should I know about dietary restrictions as a host of an Airbnb Experience involving food?
This content was created by Airbnb and is consistent with Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) technical standards for food safety.
As a host of an experience involving food, you’ll have guests from diverse backgrounds, so it’s important to stay up to date and knowledgeable about the different diets you might encounter. The more you know about the food choices people are making, the easier it will be for you to prepare and think ahead for your food experience. Before each experience:
- Add your ability to accommodate the different dietary restrictions to your experience page.
- Reach out to each guest to ask if they have any dietary restrictions. If they do, be sure you understand the details of their particular needs. Not every case is the same, so don’t make any assumptions. Also, keep a detailed record of all the related information.
- If you’re not sure about your ability to accommodate a dietary restriction, communicate this clearly to guests as soon as possible. Allow guests to make their own decision about whether or not they can still participate in the experience.
Also, when guests arrive for an experience that includes food, it’s always good practice to ask again if anyone has any food allergies or dietary restrictions.
Examples of dietary restrictions
Here are some of the dietary restrictions or preferences you might encounter:
This is when people avoid eating foods that contains dairy—e.g. cheese, lactose or milk products, and their derivatives. Note that in the case of a milk allergy, even a slight exposure—like an unwashed hand that had touched dairy and then touched a clean plate—could be life-threatening. If the guest is lactose intolerant you can use lactose free dairy products, but make sure you know exactly if the guest restriction is lactose intolerance or milk allergy.
Gluten and wheat-free
A gluten-free diet involves avoiding eating foods that contain gluten. It is not an allergy, but is a digestive reaction against the gluten that can be gluten intolerance or celiac disease, with different levels of reactions. Gluten is commonly found in grains like wheat, rye, and barley (these grains can be found in certain breads, pastas, cereals, and even soy sauce and some cleaning materials). Gluten can also be added as an ingredient to some food products, read the food labels before preparing a meal to gluten sensitive guests.
Wheat-free is also a dietary restriction for people allergic to wheat proteins so that they cannot have wheat or wheat byproducts. Be careful to know which ingredients are allowed and which are restricted depending on your guests’ needs. It can be possible to be on a wheat-free diet and still have gluten. However, if someone is on a gluten-free diet, they will also be on a wheat-free diet because all wheat has gluten.
Note that in the case of wheat allergy or gluten intolerance, even a slight exposure—like an unwashed hand that had touched gluten and then touched a clean plate—could be life-threatening.
This diet includes fish, but excludes all other meats. Having some sort of fish or vegetarian option readily available is a good practice as the pescatarian diet is fairly common.
This diet includes plant-based foods only, and excludes animal foods of any kind—ex: meat, fish, fowl, eggs, honey, and dairy products.
This diet includes eggs, milk, milk products, and plant foods, but excludes meat, fish, and fowl. There can be variations of this diet as some people choose to exclude eggs or limited dairy choices. Some examples include:
- Lacto-ovo-vegetarians: Eat both eggs and dairy products
- Lacto-vegetarians: Eat dairy products but avoid eggs
- Ovo-vegetarians: Eat eggs but not dairy products
A food allergy occurs when a person’s immune system reacts to a food protein that is typically harmless for other people.
Ninety percent of food reactions are caused by nine allergens: peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, cow’s milk products (dairy), sesame, shellfish, fish, soy, and wheat. However, any food has the potential to cause an allergic reaction.
Some food allergies can be severe, causing potentially life-threatening allergic reactions known as anaphylaxis. You should always be extra cautious when hosting guests who have food allergies.
If you are unsure about food elements within your experience, check with your local department of health or speak to a lawyer to discuss your experience and its compliance with local laws.
This diet is based on the types of foods presumed to have been eaten by early humans. It includes meat, fish, vegetables, and fruit, and excludes dairy, legumes, and processed food.
While pregnant, many women eliminate certain items from their diet such as alcohol, certain types of fish, raw meat, etc. This can vary according to guidelines from country to country and woman to woman. Therefore we would recommend you discuss it in detail with the guest rather than making assumptions. In all cases, avoid raw foods or foods that are not completely cooked, and soft cheeses, due to their higher risks to pregnant.
This diet includes eating only or mostly food that is uncooked and unprocessed.
Be sure to provide a good variety of beverage options to your guests, and that they include drinks that don’t include alcohol, sugar, and caffeine.
Always do your best to accommodate those with dietary restrictions or preferences within reason. The more proactive you can be about providing options, the easier it will be to do so. And always remember to take dietary restrictions and food allergies seriously.
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