Question on Cross contamination

Posted on: Mon, 04/08/2002 - 3:37pm
LaurensMom's picture
Joined: 05/23/2001 - 09:00

pI was doing some peanut allergy training yesterday and someone asked me how often cross contamination occurs. I couldn't answer. Now I am curious. Anyone know of any statistics about the probability of cross contamination?/p
pThanks,br /

Posted on: Tue, 04/09/2002 - 2:40am
nopeanuts's picture
Joined: 06/20/2001 - 09:00

I think there is a post on this somewhere on the board, but I have no idea where. I think it said that 20% of foods labelled as "processed with PN" have traces of it. Also, if you look on the labelling board under my post "labelling laws" there was a link to an FDA site that had an article about cross-contamination testing with unlabelled ice cream (again, I think it was 20% but I am not sure).

Posted on: Tue, 04/09/2002 - 2:42am
Corvallis Mom's picture
Joined: 05/22/2001 - 09:00

Check out the FDA's 1999 survey of companies in MN and WI for some specifics. Basically, "may contain"/"on equipment" items like ice cream, cookies, and candies are "do contain" about 20% of the time. There is a link to this study under labeling, I think.
"in a facility" is tougher to estimate.... the quantities are certainly smaller, but peanut dust is more mobile in a manufacturing setting... so again, IMO, the odds are pretty high that cross-contamination will occur (I would guess around 50% odds in this case) but that the levels would be so low as to be tolerated by a lot of PA persons. (But not by all... anyone who is contact/aerosol sensitive has probably had some nasty surprises)
I estimate based upon my own experience (in the three years since I started paying close attention) that in most Chinese restaurants the incidence is close to 100%. (About 50% of the time, I seem to get at least one peanut in a dish that shouldn't contain them.)
Hope that this helps. [img][/img]

Posted on: Tue, 04/09/2002 - 4:52am
momjd's picture
Joined: 02/24/2002 - 09:00

When I first started explaining the issue to my parents (in reference to why my 14 mo. egg allergic son and I wouldn't be attending a family gathering at a restaurant that served pies with meringue and egg salad, I said something like this:
Mom, when you make egg salad at home do you get a different knife to chop the onions after you've used your knife to chop the eggs (No), do you add some of the onions that you've chopped to the baked beans (Yes)... After you've chopped the egg do you wipe down every surface with bleach and wash your hands thouroughly before preparing the bread or the meat (No)... Is it possible that you would cut a slice of the pie without meringue with the same knife that was used to cut the pie with the meringue and maybe just rinse it off in between? (Yep) and so on. Also in the restaurant setting, how often does a server or a cook get their thumb in something on a plate (just at the edge) and then touch something else?
My family thought I was being a little too sensitive at that point, but they accepted it and went to the dinner without me. While their a waiter tripped and spilled water on my dad and coffee on himself, the same waiter brought my dad the banana creme pie instead of the coconut he had ordered for dessert (they look almost identical). My dad then apologized to me, saying sure it was just water- but it could have been anything and it could have landed on Logan, sure the banana pie didn't hurt me, but what if it had been something with peanuts? So at least they understand why I don't trust my son's life to the fates of human error.
With regard to general cross contamination, there is a recent post regarding how to explain cross contamination to young children that you might want to check out. I guess an more *adult* example would be: Would you drink water than came to your house in the same pipes that the raw sewage went out? Manufacturer says: But they've been cleaned in between...
Also, I read long ago that the FDA permits a certain (very low) level of contaminants such as bug parts, mice droppings, etc. to be present in foods because it impossible to keep it all completely out. If manufacturers can't keep mouse doo out of your food, how can they keep peanuts or other food particles that are present in the same factory out?

Posted on: Tue, 04/09/2002 - 4:53am
momjd's picture
Joined: 02/24/2002 - 09:00

Oops, replying to wrong post! Not enough coffee today.

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