MY FIVE EASY STEPS TO A CLEAN, ALLERGY-FRIENDLY PANTRY.
Does your pantry look like this – full of potentially allergenic products?
Don’t know where to begin to remove the allergenic products?
Follow my five easy steps to an allergy-friendly pantry and refrigerator. I won’t lie, they will definitely be a lot emptier at the end of the clean than when you started. You will need to go shopping to restock…..I can hear you thinking already, “how do I know what products are ok?” Well, my next blog is all about the first shop and will provide you with handy tips to help guide you.
But, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. The first job at hand is to clean out your pantry and fridge of all products containing the allergens or that may contain those allergens. My tips are for complete removal of products containing allergens. If you have a member of your household with anaphylactic allergies, this is the safest option. This should be done by someone without allergies/intolerances and when any allergy/intolerance sufferers aren’t around. Arm yourself with new sponges, new scrubbing brushes, cleaning spray, garbage bags, elbow grease and if you can get a second person to help they will make it that much easier.
Step 1: Take everything off the shelves/out of your pantry and put on your bench. I mean everything!
Step 2: Now it is time to give the shelves a good clean whilst that pantry is empty! If your pantry was anything like mine when I did this, the honey jar was stuck to the shelf, there was stray nuts and seeds, flour dust and even a few unidentifiable items! This step is important, as you want to remove any traces of allergens from your shelves. So give your hands a good wash with soap, dry them on paper towel, pull out your favourite commercial cleaning product, new sponges and new scrubbing brushes and start cleaning. When you finish cleaning, throw out the sponges and scrubbing brushes, as they may contain traces of allergens, and throughly wash your hands.
Did you know that…..
Studies have shown that commercial cleaning products effectively remove the protein of a food allergen such as peanuts, however dishwashing liquid does not. For hands, washing with liquid soap or bar soap is an effective method of cleaning, however plain water or alcohol-based hand sanitisers alone do not clean effectively (link to: Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology Study).
Step 3: Ok so the pantry is clean, now on to the products. Only put back food items that you know are safe and free from allergens. Start with the products with the original seal intact (ie unopened products) – read the labels carefully (refer to My tips for reading labels and Identifying Allergens section of my website). It really helps to have a second set of eyes for this step. Read the label, if it contains or may contain the allergen – THROW IT OUT. If you think its ok, read the label again, then have your second set of eyes read it too. If it’s OK, put it back in your pantry. Continue for all unopened items.
Step 4: Once you have completed all the unopened packs, it is time to assess what’s left. Anything that is not in its original packaging, and therefore you do not have the ingredient list for, needs to be THROWN OUT. If you do not have the ingredient list you cannot check if it contains allergens.
Step 5: Now, its time to deal with the opened products in original labelled packaging. The safest option is to discard all open items as you cannot be sure of cross contact even in products that do not contain the allergen as an ingredient. For example if you are allergic to wheat, open jars of jams, spreads etc would most likely have had a knife that had bread residue on it so it MUST BE THROWN OUT. Don’t take chances, if in doubt THROW IT OUT.
Complete steps 1-5 with your refrigerator and any other places you store food items. You must check every food product in the house to ensure that the only foods left are safe. Clean all your plates/crockery/cutlery/utensils. Running all items through the dishwasher on a normal cycle is recommended by allergy organisations to effectively clean these items.
So, now you are probably standing in a house which is near empty of food. Time to hit the shops! A scary prospect, but with my tips on shopping in my next blog, you will be better equipped to handle this first shopping trip.
So, you have just left the allergist/doctor’s office after being given the news that you (or a family member) are allergic or intolerant to one or more food groups. You are no doubt in a state of shock and panic with questions buzzing around your head such as:
“What can I eat when I get home?”
“Are the foods in my pantry and refrigerator safe?”
“How do I know what is in foods?”
“What can I cook?”
“How am I going to manage with school/work?”
“How can I keep myself/loved one safe?”
“Will I ever be able to leave the house again?”
“I/they could die from eating that food/s.”
Rest assured that this is completely normal. Every person who has been diagnosed with allergies or intolerances has had these questions (and more). Immediately after diagnosis you will most likely feel completed overwhelmed with no idea where to begin. You are not alone. As someone who has experienced this first hand as well as having help my sister come to terms and prepare her kitchen for her children’s allergies, I have been through the panic of not knowing what is safe to eat. Having made it to the other side, I am here to tell you it does get better.
In upcoming posts, I will tackling some daunting tasks for the newly diagnosed, including the pantry clean out, the first shop and starting crèche/kinder/school. As a food intolerance sufferer, aunty to children with food allergies, food scientist, mum and allergy-friendly recipe developer, I will share with you my knowledge and experiences and help you improve your knowledge and confidence so you can take more control of life and the food being eaten.
I will share with you handy hints for the first shop after being diagnosed with allergies/intolerances, my Top 5 label reading tips and my starting crèche/kinder/school checklist – a perfect item to take with you during the orientation period that are occuring this term so you can get everything in place before they begin in 2016. The first day of creche/kinder/school is exciting and should be enjoyed (and copiously photographed!). The more you can arrange now regarding their allergies/intolerances the better. It will make you feel more relaxed, leaving you to focus on the tears of pride welling in your eyes on thier first day!