Friday, June 15, 2012

Nut Allergies and the Grocer's Cheese Department

Add this to the list of things I hadn't realised I need worry about. Last weekend, I noticed that the counter in the cheese department, where they slice and prepare packets of cheese for sale was mounded high with shelled almonds being packed in plastic tubs.

I knew the deli was off limits as they prepare sandwiches for takeaway that have peanut butter-but I hadn't noticed the cross-contamination potential at the cheese department. I suppose that means factory sealed cheese for us, though it does provide me a valid excuse to purchase my favourite cheeses as entire wheels. This happened at the Baker's Grocery on West Center Road, in Omaha. I haven't checked to see if this is a chain-wide practise, however the potential is always there if employees are not trained regarding food allergies. Given that I typically leave Baker's feeling like I've been assaulted by stupidity, and more often than not, incorrectly charged-I don't have much confidence I would get a response I could trust as accurate with respect to food handling practices. Further, when I have asked questions of this sort, I'm often confronted with accusations-like I'm asking for some sort of special treatment. I understand people feeling defensive about it, thinking you are asking them to do something they are unable to. Really, I just like to know what I'm dealing with so I can patronise an establishment, or not. I certainly don't expect them to accommodate my needs. That said, I do however wish they could contain the loose piles of nuts to one section of the store I could avoid. Having a pile of open nuts at the end of each aisle in produce makes it pretty difficult to avoid. Sometimes the nut allergic need to purchase produce. I've stopped weighing things on the scales because of the nuts, and Danny cannot reach into a pile of fruit to select something as people regularly toss shells into the displays as they snack their way through the department. I know stores can't stop people from being pigs, but they could do a better job of containing it to one area. At any rate, that's like wishing for world peace-ain't gonna happen, and so I grow what I can at home, in season, and race through the produce department otherwise. No bag of radishes is worth dying for.

As we still live in a world where severe allergies are viewed as some sort of lifestyle choice rather than a legitimate disability, I'm prepared for people to be rather hostile about it. When Danny is older, he'll be able to protect and advocate for himself, but until then, they have to deal with me-and I'm not willing to risk his life because someone doesn't "believe in food allergies."

Anyway, watch out for the cheese counter if you have nut allergies.

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