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.

For more information, feel free to reach out to Salvatori (LINK )via email at

*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.