I once “thoughtfully” made muffins for a friend. At the time, she was a former teammate and graduate assistant, and she was running/biking with me over the summer to help me train for the upcoming season. The muffins were intended to be a “thank you” for all those unnecessary miles she covered on my behalf.
“Ta-da! Muffins for you and your hubby.”
“Um….gee, thanks Megan. But…are there any peanuts or products containing peanuts in there?”
“How would I know that?”
Spoken like someone who doesn’t have a food allergy. My friend’s husband, however, is deathly allergic to peanuts. This is one of those “if my friend ate a peanut m&m and then forgot and gave him a kiss he could DIE” kind of allergies. This was my introduction to serious food allergies, and it really changed the way I think. Now, I try to do a little background research before I make baked goods for someone…and I’ll often attach a recipe card. It’s a cute way to share recipes, but it’s also my very own, personal “processed in a facility that contains traces of peanuts” disclaimer. I don’t think I’ve done any bodily harm to anyone yet.
It’s several years later, and my world is being rocked again. Every day, they’re updating the recalled foods because of the latest salmonella scare. Today, the radio tells me that over 500 people have gotten sick so far and 8 have died! All because of some bad peanut paste. The freaky part is, the stuff is lurking in all kinds of products…from cakes, brownies, crackers and granola bars to fruits and vegetables to ice cream to dog food. The current FDA list numbers 1,313.
I used to try to imagine what it would be like to be my friend’s husband. How would I cope if eating was such a gamble? They’re getting better about labeling peanut products (which means, unfortunately, that allergies like his are much more common than I realize), but it’s not foolproof. To a very, very, very small degree, I think I can better empathize now.