Allergens Are Everywhere, Aren’t They?

By Heather Legg

Last week I finished up a big committee event that I had chaired at my children’s school. It had taken a lot of planning and help form others, volunteering time, talents, and food. We had asked parents to send in different snacks, including breakfast bars and granola bars for artists coming to our school to perform. We got tons of food, tons of granola and breakfast bars, so many we had lots of leftovers.

As we were trying to decide what to do with the leftovers, we came up with a few ideas. We thought of giving them to the teachers to have in class in case their students forgot their snacks, but then we looked closer at the bars. Peanut butter granola bars, nutty breakfast bars, pecan laden bars, bars made in factories that processed peanuts and bars that may contain tree nuts. We couldn’t give them to the teachers because most of them have at least one peanut/ tree nut allergy in their room.

We did end up being able to send a few boxes to certain rooms where we knew there were no allergies, but again, I was amazed at all the allergies in the school. The no allergy rooms are few and far between. The signs of nut free classes, no peanuts allowed, etc. lined the halls. And then I thought about all the peanuts and nuts that do get eaten in the school in one place or another and the chances of contact for those with allergies. It’s everywhere.

I mean how do you know that if you’re opening a door, the person who last touched the handle hadn’t had his hands in peanuts or pecans? How do you know that the pen you are using at the grocery store to sign your check wasn’t handled by nutty fingers? How do  you know a menu at a restaurant or a book at the library didn’t somehow come into contact with some sort of allergen?

You can’t wash your hands all the time and disinfect everything you touch, can you? Or do you have to? Bottom line, allergens can be everywhere, anywhere. I know I don’t like to use the grocery store pen or touch escalator handrails due to germs, but it’s allergies, too. And then they say allergies can be caused because we’re too clean. It’s just a cycle, isn’t it, so what are you supposed to do?

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