It’s one of the most romantic days of the year, but Valentine’s Day can present challenges for people with serious allergies. Allergens can find their way into foods, places and situations, such as chocolates, restaurants and romantic encounters, making it difficult to relax if you have a serious allergy.
See our suggestions for keeping date night free from allergic reactions.
Chocolate and other edible gifts
Chocolates may seem like an ideal gift for Valentine’s Day, but it can contain many of the 14 major food allergens such as peanuts, tree nuts and cow’s milk, as well as some less common ones such as fruits, oils, seeds and foods with ‘nuts’ in the name
Talk to your date or partner about your allergies ahead of time, and if they do give you an edible gift, always check the label and keep two adrenaline auto-injectors (AAIs) with you at all times, just in case.
Read our Factsheets on food allergens.
Eating out or ordering In
You can still enjoy a romantic meal out or a cosy night in with a takeaway if you have an allergy, by taking some simple precautions.
Food businesses are required by law to provide information on any of the top 14 food allergens used as ingredients in catered food sold without packaging.
We recommend calling the restaurant or takeaway in advance to ask whether they can help you choose a suitable meal. When you arrive, speak to staff and ask about the ingredients of the food you’d like to order, how it’s prepared and whether cross-contamination is likely. Check again when your meal arrives that your dish is free from your allergens and that it has been prepared safely. Keep your adrenaline auto-injectors (AAIs) with you at all times.
If you’re not confident that your request is being taken seriously, it’s best to go elsewhere.
Alcohol can sometimes contain allergens. For example, wine can contain sulphites, lipid transfer proteins (LTP), finings (clearing agents) and, of course, grapes. Liqueurs can contain various foods including fruits, nuts and milk. If any of the 14 major food allergens are present in an alcoholic drink, they must be declared on the label, and if you are unsure about a product, it’s best to avoid it.
It may not be obvious, but kissing and intimate experiences can be risky if someone eats a food that their partner is allergic to. Allergens can remain in saliva for anywhere between two and 24 hours, and even brushing teeth may not get rid of them completely. Talk to your date ahead of time and always keep two adrenaline auto-injectors (AAIs) with you, just in case.
Latex and milk can be found in many brands of condoms, and contact with the skin can cause an allergic reaction. If you or your date have an allergy, make sure you’re aware of which products are safe to use.
There are many non-latex or milk-free condoms available, just check with the manufacturer about which allergens may be used in production.
If you have an allergy yourself, make sure your partner knows, and if you have any doubts about the condoms you have to hand, hold off until you can buy some you know are safe, Plus, keep two adrenaline auto-injectors (AAIs) with you at all times, just in case.
Read our Factsheet on Latex Allergy.
Massage and other non-food products
Food allergens can sometimes be found in cosmetics and personal care products such as massage oils, moisturising creams and soaps, and some people with food allergies may have skin reactions. If you have an allergy, make sure your partner is aware, always check the ingredients label of any products you’d like to use, and always keep two adrenaline auto-injectors (AAIs) with you.
Cosmetics labelling regulations require that the names of ingredients are given in Latin, so common food-based ingredients will be named in Latin.
Read our Factsheet on Cosmetics, Personal Care Products and Medicines for a list of the Latin names for common food allergens so you know what to look out for, plus which products might include them.
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