Schools, Early Childhood Education (ECE) programs, and communities have a shared responsibility to promote a safe physical environment that protects children with food allergies. State and local health regulations, generally based on the FDA Model Food Code, provide school districts, schools, and ECE programs with requirements governing the cleaning and sanitizing of surfaces and other practices that can protect against the unintentional transfer of residue or trace amount of an allergic food into another food. Some practices to reduce this cross-contact include the following:
- Clean and sanitize with soap and water or all-purpose cleaning agents and sanitizers that meet state and local food safety regulations, all surfaces that come into contact with food in kitchens, classrooms, and other locations where food is prepared or eaten. Cleaning with water alone will not remove food allergens.
- Clean and sanitize food preparation equipment, such as food slicers, and utensils before and after use to prevent cross-contact.
- Clean and sanitize trays and baking sheets after each use. Oils can seep through wax paper or other liners and cause cross-contact.
- Use appropriate hand-washing procedures that emphasize the use of soap and water. Hand sanitizers are not effective in removing food allergens.
- A study found that for removal of peanut allergens from hands, liquid soap, bar soap, and commercial wipes were very effective. Plain water and antibacterial hand sanitizer left detectable levels of peanut allergen on 3 out of 12 and 6 out of 12 hands, respectively.
Distribution of peanut allergen in the environment. Perry TT, Conover-Walker MK, Pomes A, Chapman MD, Wood RA. J.Clin Immunol, Vol. 113, No. 5. Retrieved from http://www.jacionline.org/article/S0091-6749(04)01067-X/fulltext
Voluntary Guidelines for Managing Food Allergies in School. P.38. Centers for Disease Control. Retrieved from http://www.jacionline.org/article/S0091-6749(04)01067-X/fulltext