Food allergies year-round are challenging enough to handle. Passover is an entirely different challenge. People wrongly assume that traveling to Israel with food allergies is easier than during the year. while this may be true for certain allergies, such as gluten allergies, it is in fact not true. Food Allergy Concierge (FAC) is here to provide education on safely traveling in Israel during Passover.

Allergens on Passover

The problem of allergens on Passover stems from different traditions regarding stringency of kosher for Passover items, and kosher for Passover procedures are insufficient for allergen microparticle cleansing. The Sephardim eat kitniyot (legumes) and Ashkenazim do not. It is common for a product to be labeled “not kiniyot”, even if traces remain present.

Some common allergens that are kitniot are sesame, peanuts, and chickpeas.

For example, local and exported Israeli products may be labeled “no kitniyot”, but it is very important to know where the product was manufactured and whether there could be traces of the allergen in the product. The process of “koshering” Passover machines and surfaces includes sterilizing with boiling hot water. This process does not neutralize the minute amounts of allergen oils and proteins that continue to affect the products produced from the machine.

Misunderstandings about food allergies and kosher food

Often allergies get lumped into the same category as ‘kosher’. Kosher manufacturers and rabbinical supervisors allow up to 1/60th of a non-kosher item in kosher products. The problem is that 1/60th of a peanut or sesame seed is enough to cause an allergic reaction in a child allergic to these items.

Also, all types of nuts are a major binding ingredient in many things that are baked and even cooked during Pesach. This is particularly true for kosher for Passover items that contain no gluten or matzah product. It is also the alternative to anything with kitniyot. Almond flour, walnut oil, and other products are commonly used for baked goods and even for cooking. For anyone suffering from nut allergies, remember Pesach products here and abroad are often made with nuts or have traces of nuts in them.

Making Passover easier for people with food allergies

To enjoy your Pesach holiday and to have peace of mind while you are in Israel, Food Allergy Concierge recommends:

1. Ordering a comprehensive food allergy card. Food allergy cards are available in Hebrew (and in any language) and have lots of information for chefs to assure your safety when in Israel.

2. Getting a FAC remote allergy management package for people traveling to hotels and restaurants. FAC can remotely or in person manage food preparation for allergic children or adults in Israel. we send detailed instructions to expedite safe service.

3. Purchasing Israeli medical travel insurance – its affordable and can reassure you in times of crisis that your medical issues will be covered.

FAC wishes you and your entire family a safe, allergy free Passover and a pleasant holiday and trip to Israel!