Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Is Coming Out of the Kitchen Really Safe--Another Possible Cross Contamination Issue

Just when I thought it was safe to come out of my kitchen, I learned a new lesson in cross contamination. Don’t laugh, but I have always dusted my canned goods a time or two a month. I didn’t, however, feel the need to sanitize the tops of all the items I purchase.
My sweetie is a very, very gluten intolerant Celiac. Even the teeniest, tiniest speck will make him extremely sick. The result of learning this tidbit of information about Rick has meant revamping how I buy groceries and prepare his food. I also did a major overhaul of standard items on hand in my pantry and replaced pieces of cooking equipment and utensils such as wooden spoons and cutting boards which because of their porous nature might retain a bit of gluten.
I know--we have a bad habit--sipping sodas when we travel. Never, ever having had a problem before, we thought nothing of zipping the top right off and swigging away as we headed off to Columbus, GA last week. Within 15 miles, Rick began to have his usual symptoms when confronting a gluten cross contamination situation, starting with tremendous bloating.
To make a long day into a short story, he was absolutely miserable the remainder of the day. But, what in the world could have done this to him? Where could he have gotten gluten. We had had no breakfast, and his last meal, cooked by me in our very own kitchen, was more than 12 hours prior. The only thing he had consumed was about four or five ounces of a 20 ounce diet drink. Okay—cross contamination at the bottling company or in the plant of one of their vendors—had to be. These were the only the two possibilities. Right? Read on.
The first thing we did when we returned home was get on the Internet to look up the company’s phone number. The customer representative tried her best to be helpful, taking down all the information, including the control number on the bottle. She could tell us the date and where the drink was bottled, assuring us that every ingredient was certified gluten free and that the drink could not have possibly been contaminated during the manufacturing and bottling process.
Is it possible? No, I don’t want to go there! Just maybe the person stocking the cooler had been eating crackers or candy while handling the drink bottles by their tops. I told you I didn’t want to think about this.
With all the other possibilities shot down, that is the only scenario that makes sense. The neck of Rick’s drink bottle was contaminated by someone who apparently had not washed their hands. If remnants of gluten could remain on the neck of a bottle, what else could be lurking on packaging because of improper hygiene? How gross is that?
Thinking about what had probably happened, I was the one feeling not so hot. When we put anything to our lips, whether a drink bottle or a glass of water handed to us by a server or pour something out of an open jar such as honey or jam or whatever, how do we know something has not contaminated that rim? I may be becoming somewhat paranoid, but I have launched my own personal counter attack against folks who don’t wash their hands before handling my stuff. Everything gets a good going over with disinfecting wipes prior to use.
Just a little food for thought, so to speak--can we really be too careful? 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for your comment.