Home cooking is something that lots of people struggle to find the motivation to do, and if you or a loved one is struggling with allergies, then it can make cooking at home even more of a hassle. The risk of cross-contamination and mislabelling of ingredients are things that might naturally deter someone with food allergies from putting on their chef hat and giving it a go.
One of the most common types of allergy is a nut allergy. Because of their small size and ability to be shaved into tiny particles, avoiding cross contamination between safe and unsafe foods is even more important.
People with diets limited by food allergies are going to greatly benefit from switching to home cooking to minimise the amount of takeaway food they purchase. Not only is home cooking much healthier for you, it is much cheaper when you are clever in how you go about it. For example, someone who eats a lot of fish and has an allergy to red meat, can still save money by learning to cook healthier dishes such as seared salmon & couscous or whole snapper with ginger & garlic.
Let’s take a look at some ways people with food allergies can minimise contamination risks when they cook.
Clearly label things
Labelling is an obvious first step, but one that’s worth mentioning because of how effective it really is. This step is especially important in protecting children with allergies as they may be too young to read small labels, so having a clear “safe” or “not safe” label will help them greatly.
Store ‘safe’ and ‘unsafe’ in different places
Even when you label things, it can still be easy to reach for the wrong ingredient if you store everything in close proximity. This is a problem especially if you have similar items like milk with different labels on them, because they can still look very similar when bunched together.
This will also help to reduce the chances of cross contamination occurring. For example, if you opened a safe and unsafe jar next to each other. Try to have a separate section in your pantry/fridge for items you have deemed to be allergy safe and remind the household about it.
Avoiding cross contact
Preventing cross contact between safe and unsafe food particles is the most important part of combating allergies when home cooking. Even a very small trace of an allergen or an otherwise safe food, can trigger a reaction in the person eating it; which would be a very traumatising for anyone as they thought they were eating something safe.
- Hands need to be washed thoroughly with soap before and after food is handled so that there is no risk of you moving particles from one food to another. This is also important to do when you finish with cooking/eating so that you don’t spread an allergen to another surface (like a doorknob).
- Utensils needs to be treated the same as hands and are to be washed after each use on a food item, not just when you are done eating with them. If you use a knife to spread an unsafe food and then stick it in a jar of safe food, the jar of safe food will become compromised with the allergen.
- Keep countertops and other surfaces clean so that there aren’t traces of allergens lying around the area you prepare meals. This is also a good idea because it will stop pesky insects from infesting your kitchen and potentially spreading traces of allergens to other rooms.
Keeping yourself safe from allergens in your home kitchen doesn’t need to be difficult if you are vigilant and follow a few common-sense precautions. Unlike eating out with food allergies, you have greater control about what you and your loved ones are potentially exposed to when you’re cooking at home. As always, the people most at risk from allergens are going to be unaware children – so if you have kids with allergies make sure they know about the above tips!