Most of the food in America is handled with latex gloves. Eating out is not safe for people with latex allergies. There are so many things to consider. First the environment of the restaurant. Does it have carpets with latex in them? Is there a rubber-backed rug at the door? Do they use balloons? Does the building have latex caulking? Does the kitchen work with latex gloves? Are there boxes of latex gloves in the facility? Are there latex or heavy rubber gloves in the restrooms? As far as the food goes, not only is it important to know how the kitchen handles the food, but also from the time the food was picked or slaughtered were latex gloves used? Were rubber bands used on the produce? Was the produce picked with rubber gloves or cleaned with rubber gloves. Did the meat get processed, cut or packaged with rubber gloves? If it is not known it should not be eaten. It only takes a few molecules to start an anaphylactic reaction. Most of the time this information is impossible to find out. Gone are the days of quickly running through the fast-food drive-thru and picking up a meal. It is imperative to know how the ketchup, mustard, pickles, special sauce, and salad dressings were made, including every spice, every ingredient, the processing and packaging. The salad ingredients, chicken, beef, rolls, the sesame seeds on the rolls, drinks, cups, straws, wrapping papers and boxes including the inks used on all of them. It is a daunting task and none of the results will be given to you in writing. A lot of places do not know so they don’t realize how important the truth is when it comes to this information so they just say, no latex was used on this piece of food. Red flags should go up. This is a dangerous statement.
Here are a few simple examples that caused anaphylactic reactions for me. I was having difficulty finding beef to make hamburgers, roasts, etc. This little local store seemed an easy place to start rather than an enormous grocery chain store. I asked them if they used latex gloves on their meat and they said yes. I explained my problem and they said they could easily stop using latex and go to nitrile. They converted in a matter of a week. So, I waited two weeks to be sure it would be out of the meats that they processed. I tried an eye roast and washed it thoroughly before making it. I also did not eat the edges of the meat just in case. I seemed to be ok. Then I tried a package of hamburger patties. I cooked them outside on the grill, ate one and had a terrible anaphylactic reaction. On further inquiry, I found that they did not slaughter the meat there or even get a side of beef to butcher but that they used “boxed beef” that was butchered in the Midwest and shipped to the east coast. In the Midwest they used latex gloves to butcher the beef. The store where I bought it did not use latex anymore but they didn’t tell me they didn’t butcher the beef from the start in their store. So, if you don’t ask all the questions from the origin of the food to the package in the store, latex probably was involved at some point.
Here is another example. Kellogg’s Rice Krispies were at the time I asked in the 1990’s, not processed with latex in the plant. In 2017, during breakfast, within 15 minutes of my first spoonful, my heart rate increased, my ears blocked up and I spun into an anaphylactic reaction. I did nothing different that day (used the same milk, sugar, dish washing liquid, etc.) but had some Rice Krispies for breakfast. I called them after the reaction was under control hours later, only to find out that yes, they did use latex during their manufacturing. So, there was a change of practice and none of this has to be labeled. There was no way of warning the consumer of this contamination.
The solution is not necessarily easy, but making your food at home controls some of the aspects of food preparation. It makes it safer that you don’t have latex gloves in your house, no new shoes in your house, and no rubber spatulas, or rubber handles on pots or utensils. It is vital that you know how your raw foods were processed such as potatoes, flour and the basic cooking ingredients. I did find a local meat locker butcher that did not use latex gloves in the first place. They used vinyl gloves and bare hands to butcher. I was able to eat safe meat for a while but it became too costly because it is not possible to go there, buy a roast and return later for another cut of meat. You have to take a side of beef or an entire pig which costs 1800 dollars for the beef and 500 dollars for the pig. It’s just not possible on disability income to buy such large quantities of meat. Also, one consideration regarding the pig, if they make you sausage, how were the casings made? How were the spices made, probably handled with latex gloves in the drying process? It is a little easier to say don’t give me sausage in casings, or with spices, just give me ground pork patties and work with it from there. Also, the ham cannot be soaked in brine and smoked with other meats that are not yours for fear of contamination.
A local Italian cheese store who process their cheese from milk that is delivered every morning, know exactly what the process is for their mozzarella, ricotta and provolone cheeses. They used latex gloves until the day I told them about the latex allergy and they also converted to nitrile and within 3 weeks I was eating safe cheese. To this day, they are latex free and I can make a lot of different things with their cheese, from pizza to lasagna. I also found Carolina Brown Rice to be picked, processed and packaged without latex gloves and to this day find is a safe food to eat.
In order to make “Fast Food” I make enough for the week, like rice and beans, soup, bread and lasagna. I warm my food up in the microwave using a bowl potholder and I don’t have any reactions when I know exactly what is in the food I am eating. I usually eat the same thing all week, which is sometimes a drag, but when I can eat without wondering if I am going to have a reaction, it’s a blessing.
I want to introduce you to the microwaveable bowl pot holders. You can use them for hot or cold food in the bowl, so your fingers don’t get uncomfortable. They are 100% cotton. You put your food you want to warm up in the bowl, put the bowl and pot holder into the microwave, and when you take it out of the microwave you can eat right out of that bowl holding it with the pot holder. Here is a link to a YouTube video where you can learn to make them if you like to sew. Here is a link for you to purchase them if you would rather. If you choose to purchase them, the Amazon Handmade has our store called GreensQuiltingAndWeaving Shop. The fabrics are washed in a latex-safe washer and dryer so the chemicals used in the processing of the cotton fabric are washed off as much as possible. They are made in a latex-safe quilting and weaving studio so no latex gloves, rubber bands or masking tape have touched the pot holders from the inception to the completion of the potholder. They are available in many prints.
These might help you enjoy your homemade “fast food.” I hope this information helps give more quality to your mealtime. Please comment to this blog if you have found things that make your mealtime safer or if you know of any food companies that are latex-free. We need to help each other. Thanks for reading this blog.