Allergies seem to be on the rise. Not only have they banned most nut foods in many public spaces, but bringing your child to the allergist before introducing high allergen foods does not seem as absurd as it may have many years ago. Nowadays, most of us know at least one individual who has a severe food allergy.
It's hard enough to be a parent and/or caretaker with a child who has an allergy, but it can also be a task to ensure there's nothing around a friend or child's friend who has an allergy, too. Some allergies are so severe that if they cross contaminate with an allergen, people can react. So, we've collected 10 ways to avoid cross contamination for children with allergies.
10 Bring Your Own Food
Bringing your own food is the safest way to avoid cross contamination of allergens. Even when people ensure that their prepared food does not have any items that the child is allergic to, they can often be cross contaminated with something in their kitchen. Sometimes, if the child is highly allergic to nuts, for example, the banana bread knife could have been dipped into butter when the butter has remnants of peanut butter from the day before. It can happen. So, when it doubt and just to be safe: pack their meals.
9 Read The Ingredients
The most important step to take when allowing a child who has allergies consume a food item, is to read the ingredients. If the food is not a whole food and is packaged, ensure that the ingredients do not have the allergen that they will react to.
It's important to know derivatives, too. For example: Whey Protein comes from cheese. It is dairy. Not many people know this, but individuals who are allergic to dairy may (likely) react to whey.
8 Don't Risk "May Contain"
May contain is a very new rule in the packaged food industry. May Contain is often an indicator that a packaged good was produced in a facility along side another food item. Depending on comfort level, some individuals who are still allergic to food items listed in the May Contain section still consume it because it's not directly in it; however, it could be cross contaminated. Key word: could. Again, this depends on severity and comfort level.
7 Wipe Trays/Counters Down
Sometimes, it's the little steps that not everyone thinks of. Like: wiping down the counters and trays that the child will be eating at. Say the child is anaphylactic to sesame and there happen to be seeds on the table where they're eating.
They could simply drop their food and think nothing of it, eating it since it 'barely touched' the table. Well, they could react to something as simple as this. So, it's important to wipe down any surface close by to ensure they do not react due to cross contamination.
6 Do Not Share Sippy Cups/Utensils
This may seem like a no-brainer, though many times it's difficult to remember; especially with a young child. You may be a caretaker and/or parent who had something earlier the child is allergic to. It may be very hot out and you offer your water to the small child, considering you've left their sippy cup at home by accident. Well, this could be an event of cross contamination. It's important not to share any item that is placed inside the child's mouth if they have food allergies.
5 Ensure Pots And Knives Are Properly Washed
Ensuring that the items you use to prepare each meal is well cleaned and sanitized can be crucial. Many times, people with severe allergies can not eat out at certain restaurants because of grills and counters.
Cross contamination can be everything at anytime. When you're home, at a friend's or family's home, it's important to make sure that their utensils and kitchen items are well cleaned.
4 Don't Kiss On The Mouth
Sadly, there have been many scenarios of adults kissing and reacting to their partner's saliva. This could be a case where a parent and/or caretaker give their child a little peck on the lips, forgetting they had consumed an allergen minutes or hours previous.
We're only human, and things do happen. It's important to stick with high-fives and hugs when giving love to the child who has severe allergies.
3 Avoid Restaurants That Use High Allergens
It can be difficult to eat out when you have a severe allergy. It's important to stay away from restaurants you know commonly use the food item that you're allergic to. For example: if the child's allergic to sesame, many sushi restaurants top that on their sushi.
If you're allergic to peanuts, you may want to avoid Thai. If you're allergic to wheat, an Italian restaurant may be difficult to eat safely at. Be smart and cautious. And, always have Epi on hand just in case.
2 Don't Cave For Others
As sad as it is: allergies effect so many people now a days. Especially in young children. Whether it's the environment we now live in, the fact that we're 'too clean' or the fact the food we eat is not as 'pure' as it was before, there are some people that frankly do not "believe" in allergic reactions. There are some older generations, and we speak generally, that do not take allergies as seriously as they should. It's important not to be swayed to 'try grandma's cookie' or 'just have a little bite' of something you know or think may cause a reaction. Don't cave for other's sake.
1 Warn The Chef
Before you go out to a restaurant or a family's home for a meal, it's important to warn them of any severe allergies. Restaurants will often provide you with an altered meal if you call in advance. It may be difficult for them to speak with the kitchen at the time of your arrival, so to be safe: call before you arrive. This goes the same way with family and friends. Out of convenience and respect, warn the chefs of any severe allergies.