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Category: Food Allergy Facts For Kids
Food Allergy Cross-Contamination Safety is a big deal for kids with Celiac Disease and Food Allergies
Kids with severe allergies must be very careful about the food they do eat. Cross contamination is when tiny bits of your allergic food get onto the food you do eat. These bits are so small that you do not even see them most of the time. This is why they are so dangerous.
Just think about a bag of flour for a second. Imagine what would happen if you opened one up and just dropped it on the counter pretty hard. A big puff of flour dust would rise up out of the bag and into the air, right? Well those dust particles are so small that you wouldn't see them after they fall all over your plate, fork, and knife. They will even fall on the countertop, and on any other open food containers you have out.
If you are allergic to wheat and you eat off that plate or take food out of any of those containers then you will get cross contaminated by that flour and get symptoms. If you are in the room when the flour is banged down on the counter and the dust is floating in the air you will get symptoms just from breathing it in!
This same idea goes for all the other allergens, even ones that aren't powdery like wheat flour. Here are some ideas on what you can do to avoid cross contamination:
- Buy squeeze bottles instead of jars and put your name on them so everybody knows not to touch them. Most cross contamination happens when people dip a dirty knife into a jar. For example, kids with peanut allergies have to be very careful with jars. If your brother or sister puts their knife into a peanut butter jar and then uses that same knife to get the jelly out of the jelly jar, they will contaminate the jelly. Now a peanut allergic kid will have a reaction when they use the jelly.
- Don't sip from someone else's cup. If that person is eating a food with your allergen then parts of that food get spit back into their cup and on the rim of their cup. Just think about how gross your 2 year old brother or sister's cup looks after they've had a few sips during dinner. There are always bits of chewed up food floating around in there, which is really icky when you think about it.
- Don't eat from the deli, a bakery (unless it is totally free from your allergens and says it is a 'dedicated facility'), or food from a friend's house. All these places are unsafe because they are full of your allergens all the time and will have tiny particles of it all over the place.
- Wash your hands before and after you eat. Be sure that you use a clean towel to dry your hands. If you use a kitchen towel in a house with your allergens it has to be clean and unused. Otherwise you could wipe bits of your allergen back onto your hands. When in doubt ask for a paper towel.
- Bring safe foods that come in plastic wrappers from dedicated facilities (allergy food companies). When you visit your family and friends' houses or go to school they are the safest way to eat.