Organize Your Food and Cookware to Keep Safe
Organize Your Food and Cookware to Keep Safe
When someone in your house is on a special diet, it is imperative to separate their food from the rest of the family’s food. Some families remove all offending foods from their house so that cross contamination will not occur while others just have certain areas where they keep the special diet food. Cross contamination, or cross contact, is when an allergen touches a food item and leaves particles behind. Even trace amounts or oils that you cannot see can cause serious reactions to someone who is allergic or intolerant.
Depending on how allergic or intolerant to certain foods your family member is, there are a variety of storage ideas on how to store food. If someone is very allergic (where an anaphylaxis reaction will occur), it is imperative to remove all offending food from the house. Some people have reactions simply from smelling the dangerous food substance.
Refrigerator or Freezer
Some people prefer a separate small refrigerator or freezer to keep the special diet foods in. This way the family member knows that everything in those appliances are considered safe to eat. These appliances can be stacked in a corner to be out of the way. They are ideal for young children, who might make a mistake, or if other people come to your house, who do not know the normal routine and can be told that your child’s food is in that appliance and that he or she cannot touch any other food in the other appliances. If using the same appliances to store food, think about using one drawer (or one shelf or one area) just for your family member’s special foods.
Some kitchen cabinets are perfect for someone with a special diet. One cupboard can be used for the foods that are free of the intolerance or allergy and then only opened and stocked by the person needing the special foods. A pantry-style cabinet is best. It is a great idea to mark the door with “gluten free” or “nut free” (or whatever the foods are free of).
Another suggestion to keep food safe is to use containers in the pantry and/or have separate shelves. There are many stackable pantry containers that work well to store a variety of snacks. These containers can be marked with the types of foods inside and what they are “free” of. There are labels you can buy to put on the outside of the containers to keep the foods safe. Make sure the lids fit on tightly to keep food safe from cross contamination.
Cookware, Bakeware and Utensils
Be sure to clearly mark items that your family member with special dietary needs uses, so that no one else should use. It is wise to mark your toaster, bagel cutter, ice cream scoop, can opener, etc. Put a permanent sign on the items using a permanent marker. If some items have been used with an allergen in the past, put the item in the dishwasher to sterilize it. Simply wiping the utensil or cookware down will NOT remove the allergen. Some people use foil or parchment paper to prevent food items from touching cookware that has touched allergens, while others buy different types of pans or utensils to be used for specific foods.
Cross contamination can occur with something as simple as a knife that is used to spread butter on toast or put on a baked potato and then it is returned into the butter dish. You have just let crumbs and/or potato particles enter the butter container. If someone is allergic to wheat/gluten or the potato, you have just contaminated the butter and it is not safe for someone to use. This also goes for mustard, mayonnaise or jam, etc. Any contents in a jar or other container that has to stay safe should NEVER have a knife enter it with contents that a person in the house cannot eat. Buy two separate jars and label one of them that this jam is gluten free, for example. After you label the jar, keep it away from the other jam to be even safer.
Also, simply removing a piece of cheese from a burger or removing croutons from a salad that was accidently put on will still cause a reaction as cross contamination took place. One cannot just remove the item, since it had already touched the food, and thus will cause a reaction.
Be safe, be conscientious and enjoy the New Year!
Barrie Silberberg is the author of The Autism & ADHD Diet: A Step-by- Step Guide To Hope and Healing by Living Gluten Free and Casein Free (GFCF) And Others Interventions. Her web site is: www.puttingyourkidsfirst.com
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This post originally appeared on our January/February 2017 Magazine