“This dish has none of your allergens in it, it’s safe for you to eat.” That is a familiar phrase that many of us with allergies hear, but unfortunately it’s not always true. Sometimes there is a risk of cross-contamination. As allergies are seemingly becoming more common and more people are becoming aware of allergies, it seems as though many still have trouble understanding cross-contamination.
I find it really frustrating to think you can eat something, to only find out that it was prepared in an unsafe environment. It is very important that you clearly tell the people who are preparing your food what needs to be done to avoid cross-contamination. People might have trouble understanding, so it is important that you give them details on how your food can’t come into contact with any of your allergens. Below is a list of a few things that you should tell the person who is making your food to help avoid cross-contamination.
1. Your food can’t come into contact with your allergen (i.e. it can’t just be picked off the top of your food.)
2. All the kitchen equipment (e.g. pans or cutting boards) that will be used for your dish needs to be cleaned thoroughly before preparing your food.
3. Allergens can stay on sponges or towels so it’s best to clean surfaces with disposable paper towels or wipes.
Buying packaged food can pose different challenges in terms of cross-contamination. Unfortunately, it’s not as easy to talk to the people who manufacture the food about their process as it is in a restaurant. That’s why it’s important to call or email the company directly and ask if you are ever unsure. Sometimes a product will say it “may contain” an allergen. It’s important that you never take a chance with these products, as they are potentially risky.
My trick is to stick with companies that I know and trust. I don’t buy things I’m unsure about. For example, if a brand has one type of cookies that seems okay for me, but they also manufacture another cookie with peanut butter, I would stay away. However, some companies may have different factories for different products. That’s why it’s important to get in touch with them directly to find out the risk.
Remember, more precautions you take the less likely it is that there will be cross-contamination.
For more information on cross-contamination, visit Anaphylaxis Canada’s website at: http://www.allergysupportcentre.ca/cross-contamination.html