Food Allergies - This IS a life or death situation

Food allergies.  They are the devil. Silent killers just lurking in stores, restaurants, and maybe even your kitchen.  Here are some quick tips to help you navigate the kitchen when someone tells you they have a food allergy.

So someone has an allergy to a specific food.  Don't do the clench!  It will be ok.  First you will want to find out what the person is allergic to.  Ask them if they have more than one food allergy as well as how sensitive they are to the allergen.  If they are anaphylactic, what that means is that if they eat the specific food then their throat will swell until they can't breathe.  Most anaphylactic sensitive people carry around an epi-pen.  Familiarize yourself with this just in case something goes awry and it needs to be used.  It is really very easy to use.

Next, put on some gloves.  When preparing food for someone with a food allergy, you always want to wear gloves.  This is especially important if you are preparing food that does contain the allergen in the same kitchen.  Cross contamination can kill.  It is important to use the gloves for the special needs person then use a different pair or remove them when preparing the other people's food.  There might be a need for several pairs of gloves, so buy a whole box of non-powdered gloves.  They are pretty cheap.  Why gloves? Why not just wash your hands?  Allergens are sneaky, and can accidentally stay under nails or stick to your fingers if your hands aren't washed completely.  This is especially true with peanut butters and oils.

Separate cookware is going to be needed.  This is your time to shine!  Pretty much everyone who cooks has more than one pan, skillet, or baking sheet.  Make sure that when you are preparing the special plate a separate new cooking pan/sheet/skillet is being used just for their food.  Just like these sneaky little devils stick to your fingery fingers, they also stick to pans.  A clean pan that is separate just for that person is going to be necessary.  If you use the same pan then you could potentially contaminate all that food.  There goes your dish, and there goes your friend! 

People with food allergies tend to shy away from dining out away from their home.  They have to be able to trust someone with their life to eat at their place. The tips above make it super easy to have them at your place.  Knowing how to handle a food allergy in the kitchen makes a chef a real rockstar!