When dealing with a peanut or nut allergy, it’s important to limit exposure. Completely. Even a trace amount of the allergen can cause a reaction in some people.
So keeping your kitchen clean is essential. When you keep allergens in your home, but want to eliminate cross contamination, you need to put a little elbow grease into it and make sure things are sterile.
Always use the dishwasher for any utensils or dishes that come in contact with the allergen. Get a good quality, reliable dishwasher and use it well. The high temperatures help to remove stubborn residue and anything remaining allergen gets washed away through the plumbing (not hanging around in your sink).
Keep a lot of soap handy. Liquid soap is best, but be sure to clean the pump handle often. Encourage every one in the house to wash their hands, especially after any contact with nuts. We have a rule in our place – if we’ve eaten or touched nuts of any kind, we wash our hands and our face well before going near my allergic son.
The same rules apply to the rest of your home, but special attention should be given to your kitchen. That’s where the nuts will normally be stored and consumed. If you do have them in another area of the house, use the same caution and rules of cleanliness there.
Leave detailed instructions in an obvious place for babysitters or visitors. There are excellent posters available on allergy websites that you can print out and hang on the fridge or next to the pantry. Remind visitors of the allergy if they will be handling any food, especially if you’re dealing with a child’s allergy and they can’t speak for themselves.
Also be sure to have medication in an accessible spot. Since my son wears his meds on him, we also keep the older Epipen above the fridge and have another one at the neighbor’s for a spare.
It’s important to remember that millions of people live with peanut and nut allergies every day. It’s completely doable. With some common sense, a game plan and some extra attention, you and your family can stay safe together.
More from our Nut Free Kitchen Series:
Uncluttered Cutlery – Beware of Cross Contamination
Clean Countertops – Stainless is Best
Perfect Pantries – Organization is Key
photo courtesy of Marlon Paul Bruin – sxc/MLON