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Preparing Food Safely - How to Make a Sandwich

Preparing food for someone with food allergies takes some thought. We have deeply ingrained food preparation habits that need to be broken to make safe food. Let's take the classic peanut butter and jelly sandwich for example. We don't think too much about taking two slices of bread and spreading some PB and J, but when you have a child allergic to peanut butter, you need to rethink the process if you want to make an almond butter and jelly sandwich. First, you need a cutting board and knife that have not had contact with peanut butter. Maybe you made a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for a different family member just a few minutes before...well, now you can't use the same knife and cutting board. Some families choose to have separate utensils/equipment for preparing safe food. Some food service establishments use separate utensils/equipment that are also a different color (often purple). In general, a good rule of thumb is to prepare safe food first, set aside, THEN make the food containing allergens for other family members.

Next, how about that countertop? Did you clean it? If not, make sure you start on a cleaned surface. Now let's make an almond butter and jelly sandwich...WAIT! Do you know if the knife with peanut butter went into the jar of jelly? If it did, then you can't use the jelly for the almond butter and jelly sandwich. Either you keep a rule that you always use a clean knife when using jelly, or you have a separate jelly jar (labeled!) always used to make safe foods. Let's review: cleaned surface, cleaned or designated utensils/equipment, jelly that hasn't made contact with peanut butter...okay, now you can slather that bread with almond butter and jelly, put it on a clean plate, and serve it to your child with a peanut allergy.


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