Cross-Contact and Food Allergies
Cross-contact happens when one food comes into contact with another food and their proteins mix. As a result, each food then contains small – usually not even visible – amounts of the other one, which can be a problem for those with food allergies, according to Gina Salvatori, a registered dietitian with CHC Solutions, Inc.
Cross-contamination is different. It typically refers to bacteria that accumulate on food, making it unsafe to consume. When it comes to cross-contamination, cooking food will lower the chance of getting sick, which is not the same with cross-contact, Salvatori said.
“Cooking does not remove an allergen from a food,” Salvatori stressed. “You can only stop a person from having a reaction by cleaning everything that came in contact with it by using soap and water.”
Examples of cross-contact include:
- Direct cross-contact (allergen was directly applied and then removed)
- Indirect cross-contact (allergen was not directly applied)
Cross-contact can be as simple as using the same spatula or tongs that flipped a cheeseburger to flip a hamburger, Salvatori said.
Tips to avoid cross-contact, according to Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE):
- Use utensils, cutting boards and pans that have been thoroughly washed with soap and water. Consider using separate utensils and dishes for making and serving safe foods. Some families choose a different color to identify the safe kitchen tools.
- Cook the allergy-safe foods first, if making multiple types of food.
- Keep the safe foods covered and away from other foods that may splatter.
- Wash hands with soap and water before touching anything else if they have handled a food allergen. Soap and water or commercial wipes will remove a food allergen. Sanitizing gels or water alone will not remove an allergen.
- Scrub down counters and tables with soap and water after making meals.
- Do not share food, drinks or utensils. Teach children not to share these when they are at school or with friends.
*Disclaimer: Any health and wellness content presented is for general informational purposes only. Such content is not intended to replace or serve as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.