Allergies: Part 2

How to avoid contaminating food with an allergen.

In Part 1, we learned about food allergens, what an allergy reaction may look like and that once a food is contaminated with an allergen other food cannot be cooked using the same equipment. This article will explore ways to avoid cross-contamination of foods with an allergen.

Food labels are a good place to start when looking to see if there is an allergen added to a food, however, there are other ways to intentionally avoid cross-contact. Knowing what foods contain or are produced in a facility that may have processed foods containing allergens is very important information that should not be taken lightly. There is no other way to be aware of food allergy dangers than to pay attention to food contents.

However, if you are providing or preparing food then it is your responsibility to do everything you can to keep requested foods free of allergens. Here are some ways to help the preparer do just that.

  • Use separate utensils to cut or prepare the allergy-free food item.
  • Always wash your hands and change aprons before preparing allergy-free foods.
  • Keep all ingredients used for the dish free of the allergen as an additive or as an ingredient.
  • Prepare the food in a separate area of the kitchen so items cannot mistakenly touch other food.
  • Label or identify which foods are free of allergens.
  • Do not share a grill, oil or equipment that had previously cooked an item that contained the allergen.

Allergies are a critical issue. It is important those preparing and serving food are aware of food allergens and how to avoid cross-contamination. Because food allergies can cause life or death situations, if an allergen is not declared or listed on a product it has to be recalled.

There may be other additives in foods that are used as flavor enhancers. Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) is an additive that must be listed in the ingredient list using its real name. Michigan State University Extension recommends reading the label and ingredients list when adding ingredients to foods. Make the ingredients known to any potential participant or attendee at your event to help keep your guests with food allergies safe.

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