ALLERGIES: Is there Latex on the Menu? Cross Contamination

At The Frog, we have come across a number of  frequent restaurant goers about the growing concern of Latex allergies and how it affects their dining experience.

There is much to consider when opening a restaurant:  whether you are a popular pizzeria, food truck, or bakery, the lifeline of any food concept is the customer.  And as a restaurant owner you want to keep the client happy and safe.

Being in the know about the dietary demands of customers can inform how you run your kitchen, whether it’s an allergy to lactose, red meat or lifestyle diets like vegan, halal , or kosher, and making sure that you are ethically and correctly catering to your clientele makes the difference between happy guests and potentially (and often times severely) ill customers.

Dietary Allergies

These diets call for diligence in the way you prepare food.  Don’t assume that because you’re serving a vegan a plate of veggies, that they won’t potentially get food poisoning if their meal was cooked on the same surface as meat, cross contamination  is a real thing and it could be awful for a customer.  This is true even for those who choose to omit a type of meat from their diet.  A few Frog members do not eat any pork.  When they first joined our team we thought, “let’s just take that pepperoni off the pizza and they can eat it.”  This is a poor assumption, because there’s already been cross contamination between the pork and the pizza.  Now the diner may get gastrointestinal issues such as diarrhea when the food works through their system.   This same concept is correct of vegetarians too.  So, if a grill is to be used for halal, kosher, or vegetarian, it must be properly sanitized between cooking different menu items.  In some instances it may even benefit the restaurant or food service establishment to purchase a separate piece of equipment and dedicate it strictly to that menu.

Now, one of the less known, and perhaps trickiest health issues to consider in the kitchen is latex allergies.  Yes, the latex found in rubber gloves can be hazardous to clients with these allergies. If you’re preparing food with latex odds are  you  probably have the best intentions, you want to keep bacteria away from the food you serve. But the latex  proteins on the gloves can very easily transfer onto the surfaces it touches. This  includes, skin, tabletops, utensils,  plates, and even food and the results of consuming food that has been in contact  with latex  range from mild to devastatingly severe.  It is essential to be mindful of latex allergies like you would any other allergy.

Dealing with Latex Allergies

Here are some steps to take to make sure that your  restaurant is safe for patrons with food allergies:

  • Read glove packaging- check if it contains any latex properties, if the gloves do not contain latex be prepared to confidently present that information to put customer’s mind at ease.
  • Alternatives to Latex gloves such as nitrile gloves, vinyl gloves, and poly gloves.
  • If transitioning out of latex make sure that you sanitize surfaces 3 times over to ensure that the area is clear of latex traces.
  • If currently exposing food and surfaces to latex please be sure to clearly communicate that to patron, as to avoid an allergic reaction.
  • Be diligent that any food or surfaces exposed to latex are free from contamination, it’s best to be over prepared when dealing with allergies.

Keep in mind that dining out is a luxury for customers, it’s meant to be enjoyable and free from anxieties. Making sure that your customer trusts your restaurant is essential to keep them coming back and telling their friends about your delicious menu.

Also, a  number of states have already banned  the use of latex gloves in food preparation. Taking this information into consideration could keep you ahead of the game.

DISCLAIMER: I’m not a doctor, just an adorable frog with friends who have Latex and Food Allergies.