Anyone who knows me well or even visits Food Allergy Buzz on a regular basis probably knows that I spend a good amount of time each day reading food allergy related news. I have many Google Alerts, sometimes more than I can reasonably read in a day. Early Tuesday morning, I came across this article--Food allergies: Tips for Ordering Meals Out--which contained very disturbing misinformation about cross-contamination from a restaurant manager. He was being cited as an expert of sorts on eating out with food allergies. The article also mentioned food allergy mom, author, and advocate, Linda Coss--she was not interviewed for the article, but information from one of her press releases was used in the article. Linda has followed up with the newspaper to correct and clarify the information in the article.
Here is what I found troubling (emphasis added):
"Linda Coss, the author of “How to Manage Your Child’s Life-Threatening Food Allergies: Practical Tips For Everyday Life,” reminds us it’s not only what the ingredients are, but what could that dish come in contact with on the grill, the deep fryer or the preparation station.
Pruyn agrees with Coss in respect to asking what’s in the food.
For example, at Maynards he said a server could easily go back in the kitchen and check every single ingredient used in the dish, including spices.
However, Pruyn said when it comes to cross contamination, customers shouldn’t worry too much, unless the food is raw.
For example, if a person comes in allergic to seafood and wants to order a hamburger, he or she doesn’t need to worry about the two being cooked on the same grill.
“The heat that is used is burning everything up,” he said, adding the same is true for the deep fried shrimp and chicken fingers."
Just to clarify, ladies and gents, food allergens cannot be removed by heat! It's not like cooking meat-- allergens don't vanish and aren't "killed" once the food reaches a certain temperature. Soap and water is what removes allergen. That's right, plain old soap and water.