With an eye on the food allergy community as a unique group of consumers since 2008, we're on a quest to find and share ways to continue enjoying the good things in life.

01 September 2009

How to "Get Rid of", "Clean Off" or "Disinfect" Allergens

Lately, I have been seeing an uptick in traffic to Food Allergy Buzz as a result of Google searches such as "does deep frying kill allergen", "heat kill food protein allergy" and "disinfect kitchen with peanut allergen". These are the sorts of Google searches that make my eyes bug out because it is a reminder of how much work we need to do to educate the general public about food allergies. If I had the money to make a TV commercial about food allergies, I think I would make one that explains that allergens can be cleaned off or removed with soap and water--not hand sanitizer!--and that no amount of heat will remove them. You can burn that food, char it, it still will contain that protein! Cross contamination is really a mystery to many people.

Does anyone reading this blog have the ability or connections to get the ball rolling for such a public service announcement or commercial? Any big companies in need of a good cause toward which to donate some money? I have a great idea for you-- this would be a good a cause. Getting more of the general public to learn that soap and water is what is needed to remove allergens from surfaces such as tables and toys would be a huge accomplishment. Furthermore, spreading the word that no amount of cooking will "kill" allergens in food would be immensely helpful too. I know these things now only because my son has a peanut allergy; I had to learn this sort of information. I knew nothing of allergens until we got that diagnosis and I guess I shouldn't be surprised that so many people aren't aware of these basic food allergy facts. These facts are not immediately obvious or intuitive but a little education through a public service announcement would go a long way!

EDITED (thanks for suggesting it, Marketing Mama!) to add that hand sanitizer WILL NOT remove allergens--soap and water (and some hand wipes) do!


RLR said...

Lucky for all of us that the same soap and water helps prevent the spread of colds and flu. The students in my daughter's preschool class wash their hands when they arrive in the morning - one thing I was ready to campaign for, if necessary. Thanks to H1N1, the teachers were already planning to do this - but also a simple step to keep peanut residue out of the classroom.

Marketing Mama said...

I think that the whole thing about some people being able to tolerate egg in baked goods has thrown people into this major misconception.

That said - I would add it's also important to note that hand sanitizer (alcohol based) does not remove food proteins... only soap and water can. That surprised me when I was new to food allergies.

Since you are asking for advice on how to spread the word? I'd suggest contacting the PR people at FAAN with this post and ask them if they would consider sending out a PSA or news release of some type with this info. Then we can try to go viral with it using twitter, facebook, blogging, etc.

Unknown said...

Good points! Thanks! I'll edit the post to add in the hand sanitizer thing--that's a very relevant good point. And yes, the food allergy folks definitely benefit from the increased hand washing thanks to fear of the flu.

Jamie Stern said...

This is a great idea! I will do my part by adding this information to my news articles and PR announcements. If every other online food retailer did the same, this would help. Have a safe Labor Day weekend.

Nowheymama said...

I'd enjoy this a lot more than most of the "The More You Know"-type PSAs, for sure.

Ruth Smith said...

Great idea Jennifer!

I'd like to add that per a study-the only things that remove peanut allergy protein (the study was only done with peanuts) is:

soap and water
most wipes
most spray cleaners

What doesn't work:
soap alone
water alone
hand sanitizer as mentioned above

Lynn said...

I'm glad to see that wipes work. I need to get some safe handsoap for my purse. I'm always hesitant to use the soap in public restrooms with my son because I don't know the ingredients, so I usually go with a couple of wipes and some water poured over his hands. (PS If you do a PSA, please send it to my husband. He's forever eating things my son is allergic to, wiping his hands on a dry napkin, and then playing with and feeding my son. If I say anything, he says: "I wiped my hands!").

Unknown said...

We just had a conversation about this at my son's 504 meeting. We talked about handwashing after snack and the need for it to be soap and water and rubbing of hands together. The classroom teacher plans to supervise handwashing- as if she doesn't have enough to do. The nurse plans to do PSA's on the school morning announcements about proper handwashing, although this is more due to H1N1 concerns.

I think contacting FAAN with this comercial idea is a good suggestions. I'm picturing Trace Adkins, belting out a country ballad about soap, not hand sanitizer and how cooking food doesn't miraculously cause the proteins to disappear. Actually, this is sounding more like a Kyle Dine song...

Ann said...

Hi Jennifer,
You might try contacting Lysol or the manufacturer of Formula 409. 4 years ago when our son moved into his first college apartment, we heard about a study that concluded that 409 and Lysol wipes were each tested to remove peanut allergen. There was also info availabe that concluded that washing the kitchen counter with dishsoap and water would not completely remove all peanut allergen after making a PB&J sandwich. I believe I got info through FAAN. You probably want to confirm that. If they can advertise their products as "peanut cleaners", they might be willing to mention the hand washing etc. It could be a "win - win". Your idea is great.

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for this blog. My 12 yr old daughter has a severe peanut allergy and she just started high school and they tolerate PB&J sandwiches. I got her hand sanitizers and now I'll get some soap and lysol wipes!!

@FoodAllergyMD said...

Yes, agree with @FoodAllergiesToGo that 409 and Lysol work, but in a 2004 study from Hopkins, I believe they used simple Clorox wipes successful. Really, I think anything with some sort of detergent/solvent like whatever is in the Lysol Cleaners/409 or SoftScrub is ok. I also think a lot of agents work or we'd see a lot more contact-triggered reactions. No evidence for this, but I would shy away from multi-surface Windex type stuff which I do not think clean well. Have not heard about the lack of efficacy of soap and water on the counter, but annecdotally, that never gets my counters clean, so not surprised! I think the point is to make sure it physically washed the surface instead of shining it. The problem with the alcohol based hand gel is that it was designed as a hand disinfectant against infectious stuff, which is why alcohol specifically was used as opposed to something solvent based.

For anyone with a school aged child, implore your school to institute strict hand washing policies. A lot of fuss is made over cleaning the tables where allergen may have landed, but it is most definitely on our little ones hands!