Cross contamination is a big deal and is the cause of a lot of allergic reactions.
So what exactly is cross contamination? Well, imagine someone is sick, and they sneeze on their hand and use that same hand to open a door. Now the doorknob is contaminated with germs. If someone opens the door again and touches the germs on the doorknob, and then rubs their eye or something, now the germs are in that person’s system and they could get sick too.
It’s the same dynamic with cross contamination, except instead of germs, one is dealing with their allergen. Taking the door handle situation again, imagine someone eats a peanut butter sandwich and then opens a door, putting some of the peanut proteins that are on his hand and putting them on the door. Then, someone allergic to peanuts opens that same door, gets those peanut proteins on their hands, and rubs their eyes, or eats something using that hand. Bam! Allergic reaction. Allergies are a lot more complicated than just avoiding foods with your allergen.
One time, I ate at an Italian restaurant and had a dish with sautéed mushrooms. I had a reaction and later found out that the pan used for the mushrooms had also been used for sautéing nuts earlier and hadn’t been cleaned well enough. It just shows how you should never assume that you are 100% safe at any restaurant.
Cross contamination is the cause of many allergic reactions, and it’s always important to consider a possible cross contamination scenario when eating out. For example, whenever I order steak at a restaurant, I always make sure to request that it is made on a separate pan, because the grill that is used to cook the steaks could have peanut oil on it from the marinades used on other steaks. I always ask that they use clean utensils, because the same knife that cut a PB&J sandwich could be used to cut up my pizza, or spread butter on my pancakes, etc.
It’s always important to consider this when you, or a friend of yours has allergies. Always take that extra step to ensure your safety.
Until next time!