Should I Worry About Cross-Contamination?

Posted on: Tue, 11/28/2000 - 1:41am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Now, I have stated very clearly in my "Comfort Zones" post that I don't worry about cross-contamination when it comes to my PA and TN son. Simply because of this board and the information it provides, I'm wondering if this is really stupid.

I do not allow any peanut or nut products in my home. I do not allow any "may contains".
My son has had three reactions (2 of which were anaphylactic) but all to peanut products. We have yet to have a problem with cross-contamination.

I think I'm raising the question to-day because he is getting a sub sandwich from Subway (I'm the food checker person for the school). Now, I know that the sub should be "safe" but I have read here that the bread is baked in the same ovens as all of their "unsafe" cookies. His class is being brought in special Christie's "safe" cookies (which reminds me I still have not had a response from Nabisco about them using peanut flour in Canada [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/mad.gif[/img] ). However, having said that, we have only eaten them a couple of times and to-day I'm feeling really nervous about him having one even though I obviously thought it was okay and ordered it for him.

I have gone to the local donut shop (not "peanut free") for the last 2-1/2 years and we have not had a problem. We have NEVER had a problem with cross-contamination. Is it also coincidence that I have become concerned with this, not only from reading the boards here, but after finding out last month that he is also allergic to walnuts? I'm not clear.

The way we have been living has worked for me. I believe I ensure his safety both at home and school. I have two Epi-pens in my purse and the school has two, so I believe I have ensured his safety in the event of a reaction.

I don't want to have to worry about cross-contamination because it means this picky little eater of mine will be eating even less, but that's not the point. Do you think I should be worrying about it, and, if so, to what degree?

Thank-you for any advice and thoughts re this. Best wishes! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

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Posted on: Tue, 11/28/2000 - 2:41am
Claire's picture
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Joined: 04/19/2000 - 09:00

Cindy this is such a tough one. I am not going to say I don't worry about cross contamination because lord knows I do. I want my son to be as comfortable as possible. I keep all nuts from our home"except the ones that can walk and talk" I don't buy anything that may contain. I have always stayed away from bakeries and a lot of restaurants. I will read labels all the time and even if I purchased the product 100 times. Now Christopher even reads them a few times. I am sometimes watching Chris at the table thinking about how he can't just dig in when he is starving at a party,but I know that he is having a good time. He has made comments before saying how good the food at the parties look and he wished he could have had it. It never ruins his day or anything but I always tell him I wish I could not have eaten this or that. Because it is so fattening. It always turns into a joke if I think he is nervous or worried. He trust us and that is the biggest thing. I will never allow him to eat a bowl of chili because when I had him tested years ago the DR.told of a boy whom died because Peanut butter is a very common "SECRET' ingredient you don't ever hear about. Duncan Donuts is one of the worst things to give him.They use nuts and never clean the counter or change the wax paper. O.k. I could go on all night. I guess what i want to say is in a way you do have to worry about cross contamination. Just don't let it become to stressful just be careful. take care claire

Posted on: Tue, 11/28/2000 - 4:06am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Claire, thank-you for your wonderful, thoughtful response. I think that basically my "comfort zone" with this is okay. I did not receive a phone call from the school to-day after Jesse had the sub. I had told him that it was sub day when we were going in. I told him that if he did not care for the sub it was okay, simply to tell his teacher that he did not like it (I had packed a regular lunch anyway). I also told him that if he felt strange after eating the sub to tell his teacher. He asked me why and I attempted to explain to him about cross-contamination.
I believe we are careful with Jesse and perhaps it's because we live in a small town and we can control the environment a lot more than we could in the city. But, as I say, we have been taking, what I consider minor, chances with cross-contamination for more than 2-1/2 years. Why start worrying about it now?
Last night I ordered his birthday cakes from the local "peanut free" Tim Horton's. But, when I ordered them, I also told the girl that I now know my son is allergic to walnuts, so could she please let the baker know. She said that was no problem. Now, we have eaten I don't know how many cakes from Tim Horton's because they are "peanut free" before knowing that he was TN too and he has never had a reaction.
My whole thing with this is, of course, I don't want to expose my son unnecessarily to another reaction (I feel like Bad Mommy already on this board, because he has had 3 reactions, 2 of which were anaphylactic), but I also want him to lead what I consider a relatively normal life, which, for us, right now means visiting the one donut shop and eating in the one family restaurant occasionally.
I do know how to spot a reaction right away and I am equipped to deal with one right away, something I could not have said of myself before (i.e., when he had his 2nd anaphylactic reaction, I spotted the reaction, I had the Epi-pen, but I still didn't deal with it quickly enough for reasons I have stated in other threads). I am VERY different now with him.
I understand that we all have different "comfort zones" and I certainly respect those parents that would choose not to allow their child to have the sub or take them into the donut shop, but I guess my basic question was, do you feel my "comfort zone" is okay?
I usually do, but, as I said, it has something to do with this site and it also has to do with him testing positive to walnuts whereby I'm questioning this.
I appreciate any input at all and welcome your post, Claire. Best wishes! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]
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Posted on: Tue, 11/28/2000 - 1:45pm
andy's picture
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Joined: 04/26/2001 - 09:00

Cindy, I read this earlier but I was busy all day and knew this is a hard question to answer. I regularly eat at Subway. A person can go crazy thinking of all the possibilities for cross contamination. I can't explain why I feel comfortable doing some things and not others. For example, I will eat at one Chinese restaurant but not at others. I have have eaten at one several times and have not had a problem, but there still exists the possibility for cross contamination. I do not think I have ever had a reaction because of cross contamination at any restaurant, however I suspect I got a little sick once because a cook put peanuts on someone's food and then prepared my food. I am not sure that was the cause. I think there is a logical balance here between going overboard and never taking a precaution. Andy

Posted on: Tue, 11/28/2000 - 2:12pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Thank-you, Andy, that was beautifully said.
Best wishes! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]
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Posted on: Wed, 11/29/2000 - 12:17am
Head Cook's picture
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Joined: 11/19/2000 - 09:00

I agree with both of you on striking a balance on staying safe and leading a halfway normal life. My 9 year old son (pn/tn/soy allergic)is becoming more and more involved in the decision making on this and it is interesting. He has figured out that food from our kitchen never gives him a problem, but if we eat out there's a price to pay. Not anaphylaxis, but soy and msg give him headaches, asthma or stomach upset. So he tells me now if he's willing to take a chance, knowing it may ruin his day. But we are very conservative. No donuts, ever. No bakery, ever. A walk on the wild side for us is a Keebler "safe" cookie. To quote him -"they screw up too much". And we do feel like we have been cross contaminated because we have had mysterious reactions through the years that are impossible to pin point, in spite of diligence in food selection.
But this is to me the biggest struggle in the emotional aspect of food allergies. Constantly one must strike a balance!

Posted on: Wed, 11/29/2000 - 1:03am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Head Cook, I really like what you had to say too. I think that it's really interesting that your son says something, although it makes perfect sense that a child would say if they suddenly felt unwell. My little guy will be 5 on Monday so he's not quite at the point where he tells me very specific pains, except I think perhaps a stomach ache when he had the stomach flu, but I can see where I
will look forward to the day when he can tell me exactly what is wrong (i.e., headache, my breathing, etc.).
I think, as seen by my two previous postings (including the thread starter) I have found the balance for this in our lives right now.
As it turns out, I didn't think he would like the sub sandwich and I was right! He told me that he gave half back to the teacher (I was hoping to find it in his lunchbox and eat it! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/biggrin.gif[/img] ) and I explained how there is another one on order coming but we don't have to order them anymore. He's not a sandwich type eater so I was wondering if he would like the subs themselves. I think a lot of kids that age are too wee to appreciate them. I'm actually rather relieved because it was his decision about food he wants to eat rather than a reaction that means he won't be getting the sub. Best wishes! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]
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Posted on: Wed, 11/29/2000 - 8:31am
Triciasmom's picture
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Joined: 08/03/2000 - 09:00

Cindy,
My comfort zone is really small, even when it comes to cross-contamination issues. My DD is 18 months old, and my concern with cross-contamination and may-contain is sensitization. In other words, even if the foods don't have enough peanut protein in them to cause a severe reaction, the protein may be present, and I don't want to expose her to the protein at all. I don't want her to become more sensitized to it.
Does that make sense?
Amy

Posted on: Wed, 11/29/2000 - 10:28am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

It makes sense to me - we were much more laid back when my son was younger - we were not as hyper-educated as we were now. He would sit right next to his brother while he ate pb sandwiches, etc. My wake-up call came on a airline flight where peanuts were served. He had been on such flights before with no problem, but on this particular flight he had a reaction. It made me realize how unpredictble this @#$%&* allergy is.

Posted on: Wed, 11/29/2000 - 10:50am
Kathryn's picture
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Joined: 02/17/1999 - 09:00

I avoid may contain stuff but that said I would suggest that if you are going to allow it I would prioritize the places/items to be avoided and #1 on my list to be avoided would be items from small commercial bakeries like donut shops, neighbourhood bakeries, grocery store bakeries and places like Subway where teens who are not very well trained are responsible for the products. May contain items from major manufacturers would be my next item to avoid because more and more often they are doing testing using some of the new processes that are available and then they label according to their tests so the labels are factual rather than just liability oriented. I do allow one ice cream with a label but I have a letter outlining the manufacturing plant processes and nut and non-nut products run on different days and the equipment is pressure cleaned nightly. I always want to be very knowledgeable about what I am choosing and so I query customer service reps and even manufacturing plant managers until I get the answers I need to make informed decisions. It does take time but most companies are more than willing to help. Take care. Hope this helps.

Posted on: Wed, 11/29/2000 - 10:54am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Triciasmom, no, your post made perfect sense to me. Now, I do not allow any "may contain" products whatsoever. I am more lax, if you will, when it comes to cross-contamination.
However, this is part of my "comfort zone" that would definitely change if Jesse did have a reaction. I think for now, we have achieved the balance that a couple of previous posters mentioned and I'll probably stick to that until I have to change my comfort zone. Now, I do know that I am extremely hesitant about going into Dairy Queen even, I do a major freak-out inside, the two times we have been there this year, and I don't even have a justification for it except that there are so many blatantly peanut products there. The other places where cross-contamination may occur that I do venture into, the peanuts aren't so out there so that's probably why I'm more comfortable with them.
I think I posted this question because I was concerned about the Subway sandwich from what I had read on this site about Subway and also knowing that the bread for the sandwich had been made in the same ovens as all of their "unsafe" cookies. But, as Andy posted above, he eats there regularly without a problem.
If it hadn't been for the school actually bringing this food product into the school (I'm official food checker this year), then I may not even have questioned the safety of Subway before.
At any rate, I think we have a balance that works for us and here's hoping nothing happens that makes us have to change it.
Best wishes! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]
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