8 Food Allergy Safety Tips to Organize Your Kitchen

Everyone can benefit from having a well-organized home. But when you have food allergies, organizing your kitchen and other food storage areas isn't just convenient—it's essential. An organized fridge and pantry can make it easier to locate your safe foods and can save you from making life-threatening mistakes.

These food allergy safety steps are easy to implement:

1. Designate a "Food Allergy Safety Zone."

Make known to your family members or roommates your list of foods and ingredients that are off limits for you. Set aside your allergy-approved food items in a shelf (or shelves) in the fridge, in your cabinets, or in the food pantry.

2. Be Clear.

Always identify your designated "safe" spaces clearly with a sticker or well-secured post-it note. That way, your family members or visitors won't inadvertently put something in your area that can pose a threat to your health. Since it's easy to grab something without carefully reading the label in full, designating these "safe" spaces will prevent you from accidentally eating something you shouldn't. If there's something that you particularly need to avoid at all costs, label it with a bright sticker to alert you of the potential danger the item could possess.

3. Dish It Up.

Label your dishes, silverware, and cutting board and keep them on a special shelf in your cabinet to be sure they won't come into contact with your offending foods. Take the time to wash and dry these items yourself so you can be vigilant about keeping them separated. And be sure to tell your family that your allergy-free supplies aren't to be touched.

4. Keep the Facts.

Perhaps you want to save room in a container by taking individually wrapped items out of their boxes or containers. Cut and save the ingredient list and manufacturing information in case you have any questions later. You can keep approved foods together in a basket or jar, along with the detailed information you saved. This removes any guesswork from the equation.

5. Plan Ahead.

Planning your menus for the coming week in advance can increase your efficiency. Since many people with special dietary needs shop in health food or specialty stores, as well as the organic department of supermarkets or online specialty retailers, planning ahead can ensure that you have all of the basics. Just regularly stay on top of your supply so you'll know if you're getting low on any of your essential ingredients.

6. Stock Up.

Buy in bulk allergy-safe foods that have a long shelf life. Set aside enough room in your pantry or storage closet where you can store the extra items. An added benefit of stocking up is that if the manufacturing plant should suddenly change its production practices and a safe item becomes dangerous, at least you'll have a back-up supply, which can give you time to find a new manufacturer and research your other options.

7. Cook in Bulk.

Cook up an extra-large batch of your favorite and safest dishes so you can enjoy some now and freeze some for later. Have a supply of storage containers or freezer-friendly bags that are labeled with your name and kept it separate from those used by the rest of the family. Take the time to write down what the bag contains and when it was cooked and keep it in a designated area of your freezer. When you're in a hurry, you can defrost and enjoy a home-cooked meal without going to any extra trouble.

8. Be Prepared.

In an ideal world, your food allergy safety efforts will be enough to prevent you from having a reaction. Nonetheless, it's always safest to be prepared for the worst. Therefore, be sure to carry your EpiPen® and seek emergency care right away in the event you do experience any food allergy reactions.




"Food Allergy: Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Food Allergy in the United States." National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Department of Health and Human Services/National Institutes of Health. 10 June 2011. Web. 23 July 2011.

"Food Allergy Management." Loudoun Allergy Network. LAN, n.d. Web. 23 July 2011.

Perry TT, et al.  "Distribution of Peanut Allergens in the Environment." Journal of Clinical Immunology, 113, No. 5 (May 2004): 973-976. Web, 28 July 2011.