Maybe you or a family member just found out that you have a severe nut allergy. Or it could be that you’ve been living with it for years. Now that a kitchen remodel is on the horizon, you’re beginning to wonder which materials are safest for food allergies.
Countertops are a big deal. As are cutting boards and anything else you might prepare food on. If you have peanuts or nuts in the house and want to eliminate cross contamination (when the allergen gets into “safe” foods), you need a clean, sterile environment.
Restaurants and commercial food establishments are often required to have stainless steel surfaces for preparation. That is mainly due to the non-porous nature of the material. Other countertops (such as concrete, stone or even laminate) can be nicked or scratched, leaving areas for contaminates to soak in or collect. When even the slightest amount of nut oil or residue can cause a reaction, this becomes a big deal.
Consider having one spot with stainless steel, such as on an island or baker’s rack. Use that area specifically for any nut related preparation. PB&J’s, Thai food, various baking and hummus are all things that will require nuts and a prep surface that can be completely cleaned.
When sterilizing for allergies, clean with the hottest water you can and always use soap. You want to carry the oils and other particles away, not just wipe them to one side. Pay special attention to any areas where allergens may collect (seams of countertops, embellishments or corners) and scrub them well every time.
While the chances of cross contamination are quite small compared to other incidents of exposure, they do happen. And they are dangerous. Build a kitchen that includes the cleanest countertop possible and practice good sterilization techniques.
Remember that accidents may happen despite your best efforts, but stay positive and do what you can. The safety of your family is worth the effort.
More from our Nut Free Kitchen Series:
Uncluttered Cutlery – Beware Cross Contamination
Perfect Pantries – Organization is Key
Completely Clean – The Final Word
photo courtesy of flickr/kitchendesigner