Those who suffer with food allergies are wary of the Double “C.” No, that doesn’t mean Christopher Columbus or chocolate chips. It means Cross Contamination and it occurs when allergens end up in foods that are normally safe.
This can cause a surprise (and severe) reaction. It’s the reason why food manufacturers claim a product “may contain traces of peanuts/nuts.” Allergy sufferers need to beware of that label, because it means there is a possibility of cross contamination in the product.
But a double “C” can happen in your kitchen too.
Besides countertops, which we covered in the last post of this series here, another infamous culprit of cross contamination is cutlery.
There was a well known case of a peanut allergy fatality that happened in Ontario. Someone used a knife for peanut butter and then put that same knife in the butter dish, effectively spreading the allergen with the utensil. The girl who was allergic then used the butter to prepare grilled cheese sandwiches and had a reaction. Truly tragic circumstances.
Be sure to set up your kitchen in such a way to limit these occurrences.
Have your cutlery well separated. If a utensil is used with the allergen, place it immediately in the dishwasher, not on the countertop or onto another dish. It can also be a good idea to have another set of cutlery that’s only used with the allergen or visa versa.
The important thing is to keep a healthy, clean separation between anything regularly used by the allergy sufferer and anything used with the allergen.
This applies when sending dishes and cutlery to school as well. Often kids are discouraged from sharing food or utensils to limit the chance of cross contamination. But be sure that anything you do send to school or daycare has been thoroughly washed in a dish washer to eliminate all of the allergen.
Sometimes it may seem paranoid or overly cautious. And it is really important to stay positive and not transfer any hysteria onto the allergy sufferer. But good, clean practices can become part of everyday life and increase the level of safety for all involved.
These are good things to know if you have extended family with a nut allergy (like grandkids or cousins for instance). You might not need to protect against cross contamination all of the time, but when you know they will be visiting work hard to provide a safe environment for them.
It might be a life or death situation. And a little attention goes a long way.
More from our Nut Free Kitchen Series:
Clean Countertops – Stainless is Best
Perfect Pantries – Organization is Key
Completely Clean – The Final Word
photo courtesy of sxc/esrasu