Traveling in Israel with Food Allergies

Traveling in Israel with Food Allergies is challenging! Did you know that 15 million Americans have food allergies, and 1 out of 13 children have life threatening food allergies? Whether you are allergic to nuts, sesame, chocolate, certain cooking oils or fruit, the very real fear of allergic reactions may hinder your travel plans to Israel. In fact, there were several cases of severe allergic reactions this year in Gap-Year student in Israel. A client’s child had such a reaction at a social event when a child across the room opened a package of Bamba, a favored Israeli snack with air-popped peanuts.

Indeed, parents of children with severe food allergies are often drained after any travel, as even the smallest trace of allergen can lead to a potential fatal reaction.  The intense monitoring required is exhausting, that one might think... so why are we on vacation?

Israeli and Mediterranean cuisine is indeed filled with high-risk allergens such as peanuts, tree nuts, and sesame. Sesame seeds are very popular here, found in schnitzel, techina, Humus, halva and flavorings. The popular Za’atar spice which is in many dishes, contains sesame.  Almost all chocolates in Israel have traces of nuts.  Many cakes and pies are baked with ground nuts.

So what can you do? EMA Care has food allergy specialists who understand you concerns and can help you, whether you plan a trip to Israel or send a student-child for his Gap Year.  It is important to know that unless you see food being prepared, you can never be 100% certain that there was no cross contamination.  Here are some general tips for coping with food allergies in Israel:

  1. As soon as you enter a restaurant or hotel dining room, alert the staff to your allergy.
  2. Translate your allergies into Hebrew. Remember that every nut has a different name, and many Israelis hear “nuts” but do not understand that almonds are also nuts!
  3. Explain the importance of preventing cross contamination.
  4. Remember: There is no requirement for food producers in Israel to list allergens, so contacting the manufacturers is often needed.

EMA Care has different services available to assist families with food allergies that ranges from providing customized, laminated, translated, detailed allergy lists (in nearly any language) to personal control and monitoring of all prepared foods at hotels and restaurants in sterile, allergy-free environments – the highest level of service available to assure families.

Yes, people with allergies must be very careful.  However, with proper forethought and preparation people with allergies can safely travel to Israel. EMA Care is at your service, to assure you of a relaxing vacation in the land of milk and honey… and lots of sesame seeds!

EMA Care provides a full range of medical concierge services to tourists and students in Israel, including food allergy prevention services.  Contact us today to set a free consultation.

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