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Cross contamination in the classroom/lunch room


Forum: Food Allergies

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  #1  
January 26th, 2011, 11:25 AM
fka teresarunningmommy
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: Michigan
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I am looking for tips to avoid cross contamination in the lunch room. Unfortunately it would be impossible to get the school to avoid gluten altogether so I need to figure out some tips to keep Megan from being exposed. For those with food allergies that you just can't expect the school to remove entirely what do you do to keep your child from being exposed to the allergen/contaminant?
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  #2  
January 31st, 2011, 07:45 PM
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It would defnintely be helpful if she had a mat to fold out and place on the table becuase anything she drops and then eats is contaminated and anything that she sets down, fork, spoon, napkin, etc is then contaminated. She needs her own silverware for school, even the plastic wrapped ones at the school can be contaminated by worker's hands putting them in the holder. This is a REAL toughy because gluten also can get airborn, especially witha room full of sandwiches and other gluten containing breads. I would try talking to her GI or nutritionist to see if they have any suggestions. If they know exactly how sensitive she is...aka airborne lunchroom contamination can aggravate the Celiac's...than she will likely need to eat somewhere else to completely avoid contamination. It really depends on how sensitive she is to the gluten. You most likely allready do but make sure you pack her lunch. Anything in the lunch line is contaminated heavily with gluten. I really hope your GI...who should have an on staff nutritionist...can help more with the specifics of cantamination but I hope something i said helps too. :/

A boy in Danny's preschool is allergic to Nut everything...including airborn oils at the level of one peanut butter sandwich in an entire cafeteria. When he goes to school the school will not be allowed to have peanut butter or peanut/treenut anything. They can have things that contain traces or are processed with it but Levi will always have to have a packed lunch and his own table to sit at with the other peanut treenut free lunches. That is a life treatening allergy though...

Anyway...they have to make accomodation for her. If she needs her own room to eat lunch in than she needs her own room to eat lunch in. Until then maybe wrap her food in foil and plastic wrap and as she eats she can uncover it andn then after she takes a bite she can cover it back up to minimize contamination. I don't know how old she is or how feasible this would be for her but it is an idea...
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  #3  
February 1st, 2011, 06:14 PM
Jennmarie's Avatar Platinum Supermommy
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I don't really have any advice other than what's already been said; as neither of my boys are in school yet. Let us know how it goes and what you end up doing for her.
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  #4  
February 7th, 2011, 08:26 AM
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Do you have a 504 plan in place for her? Is the school aware that she has CD? Does the GI consider her to be a "super sensitive" child?

We put a 504 plan in place at our school just to make sure that everyone was on the same page. The school prepares lunch for her and typically does a great job. They keep a designated cutting board they use as a counter top to prepare her meals on. Her food is cooked separately and typically most of it is purchased locally at the grocery store by the lunchroom manager. A lunch might be a grilled chicken breast with bbq sauce on the side, rice, salad and fruit (mandarin oranges, kiwi, banana, etc) or hot dog (no bun) with ketchup, potato chips, salad and fruit. I have heard that the middle school does not have a good lunchroom and so I will probably start sending her lunch at some point. In that case, I plan to purchase a mini fridge and microwave for them to stick in a corner somewhere so she can heat up her own food.

One thing surprising to me was that the school chocolate milk had gluten in it but most chocolate milk at the store does not. If you let the school prepare her food, ask them when you can come in and look at the ingredients in the items. Also, ask them to prepare a menu for her a month in advance (meaning give you Feb's menu near the end of January) so you can check on questionable items (like bbq sauce, taco seasoning, seasoned fries). If your school isn't familiar with CD, they will welcome your input. If they accept federal dollars at all, they are required to provide a gf meal for your child. (Of course, some things aren't worth the worry of wondering if they will do a good job).

Your child's lunch table and seat should be wiped off with a NEW towel (not the same one they've been swiping everywhere) and NEW sanitizing solution. Your child should also be allowed to go wash her hands before eating. (Many schools use germ-x before eating which - to me - means that she'll be eating very clean gluten if it's somehow on her hands at that point! lol).

If there's gluten in the classroom, that's a separate challenge. The teacher should know the basics about CD (I hand them a print-out at the beginning of the year) and that things like play doh, art supplies, etc might contain gluten. I offer to provide any item she needs as long as they give me a week advance notice (doesn't always happen).

I encourage my daughter to tell her friends that she's "allergic to wheat" so they know not to set cookies or crackers on her desk at snack time. For sub teachers, she tells them that she's allergic. I've told her to keep it simple as most people really don't understand CD. If they ask more questions, she tells them that it's not really an allergy but an auto-immune disease and her body can't tolerate the presence of gluten which is in items like wheat, barley, rye and oats. Sometimes a child will try to dip some of their food into some sauce she has on her plate and she knows that if they do, she's to take her tray to the lunchroom manager and tell them what happened. (It's only happened once and they explained to the other child why she couldn't do that).

I try to put as much responsibility on my daughter as possible. This is her medical condition and it's a lifetime one. She's able to read labels, inform (politely but firmly) adults (like subs) that she can't eat what they're offering or is not allowed to touch certain things in the classroom. She has her own germ-x (because of CC issues) and this year I've started teaching her to cook simple things in the microwave (she's 9 by the way). She was diagnosed when she was 6, so we've kept things as developmentally appropriate as possible. She's small for her age, which causes problems at times. And when she gets a gluten reaction, she misses around 7 - 10 days of school (not counting week-ends).

I also tell her and the school that I am there to support them completely. If they flub on a meal and accidentally contaminate it, I'd rather they call me at home and ask me to bring something for her than handing it over and hoping for the best. She knows that if someone brings cookies to school for the class (and I didn't know before-hand) that she's to politely decline and keep her happy face on and I'll prepare something special after school.

I hope some of this is helpful...
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  #5  
February 8th, 2011, 07:44 AM
fka teresarunningmommy
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: Michigan
Posts: 47,594
Quote:
Originally Posted by Slipper View Post
Do you have a 504 plan in place for her? Is the school aware that she has CD? Does the GI consider her to be a "super sensitive" child?

We put a 504 plan in place at our school just to make sure that everyone was on the same page. The school prepares lunch for her and typically does a great job. They keep a designated cutting board they use as a counter top to prepare her meals on. Her food is cooked separately and typically most of it is purchased locally at the grocery store by the lunchroom manager. A lunch might be a grilled chicken breast with bbq sauce on the side, rice, salad and fruit (mandarin oranges, kiwi, banana, etc) or hot dog (no bun) with ketchup, potato chips, salad and fruit. I have heard that the middle school does not have a good lunchroom and so I will probably start sending her lunch at some point. In that case, I plan to purchase a mini fridge and microwave for them to stick in a corner somewhere so she can heat up her own food.

One thing surprising to me was that the school chocolate milk had gluten in it but most chocolate milk at the store does not. If you let the school prepare her food, ask them when you can come in and look at the ingredients in the items. Also, ask them to prepare a menu for her a month in advance (meaning give you Feb's menu near the end of January) so you can check on questionable items (like bbq sauce, taco seasoning, seasoned fries). If your school isn't familiar with CD, they will welcome your input. If they accept federal dollars at all, they are required to provide a gf meal for your child. (Of course, some things aren't worth the worry of wondering if they will do a good job).

Your child's lunch table and seat should be wiped off with a NEW towel (not the same one they've been swiping everywhere) and NEW sanitizing solution. Your child should also be allowed to go wash her hands before eating. (Many schools use germ-x before eating which - to me - means that she'll be eating very clean gluten if it's somehow on her hands at that point! lol).

If there's gluten in the classroom, that's a separate challenge. The teacher should know the basics about CD (I hand them a print-out at the beginning of the year) and that things like play doh, art supplies, etc might contain gluten. I offer to provide any item she needs as long as they give me a week advance notice (doesn't always happen).

I encourage my daughter to tell her friends that she's "allergic to wheat" so they know not to set cookies or crackers on her desk at snack time. For sub teachers, she tells them that she's allergic. I've told her to keep it simple as most people really don't understand CD. If they ask more questions, she tells them that it's not really an allergy but an auto-immune disease and her body can't tolerate the presence of gluten which is in items like wheat, barley, rye and oats. Sometimes a child will try to dip some of their food into some sauce she has on her plate and she knows that if they do, she's to take her tray to the lunchroom manager and tell them what happened. (It's only happened once and they explained to the other child why she couldn't do that).

I try to put as much responsibility on my daughter as possible. This is her medical condition and it's a lifetime one. She's able to read labels, inform (politely but firmly) adults (like subs) that she can't eat what they're offering or is not allowed to touch certain things in the classroom. She has her own germ-x (because of CC issues) and this year I've started teaching her to cook simple things in the microwave (she's 9 by the way). She was diagnosed when she was 6, so we've kept things as developmentally appropriate as possible. She's small for her age, which causes problems at times. And when she gets a gluten reaction, she misses around 7 - 10 days of school (not counting week-ends).

I also tell her and the school that I am there to support them completely. If they flub on a meal and accidentally contaminate it, I'd rather they call me at home and ask me to bring something for her than handing it over and hoping for the best. She knows that if someone brings cookies to school for the class (and I didn't know before-hand) that she's to politely decline and keep her happy face on and I'll prepare something special after school.

I hope some of this is helpful...
That was very helpful actually. I called the school and had them send home the chocolate milk yesterday. Thank God no gluten there. We do not have a 504 plan because she goes to a Catholic school, but they are very good about making whatever accommodations I ask for. There is a boy in her class with multiple food allergies as well. It's kind of funny there are only two kids in the whole school with food problems and they are both in the same class. I am not sure if she is "super sensitive", but I lean towards that. We go back to see the GI next month, but her levels are still highly positive. We just switched the whole family over to GF which has been hard on my other kids and dh and me for that matter, but it needed to be done. It was just too hard to keep her from being contaminated. We'll see how it goes from there.
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  #6  
February 8th, 2011, 09:53 AM
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Join Date: Feb 2011
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The ingredient I've found in chocolate milk is malt (barley derivative) and it wasn't in the chocolate milk at our last school either, just our current one. She would come home daily with stomach aches before we figured it out. The hardest part about Celiac (for me) was in how many places it can hide.

With a private school, the 504 is not applicable, but it's good that they are working with you. Do they cook her lunches? I would look at that for possible CC. Depending on your daughter's level of sensitivity, that might be the solution.

Super Sensitive kids would react to very small trace amounts. If you have a SS child, then plastic bowls,plates, cutting boards, etc that contained gluten could be causing a problem now. Same with blenders and toasters. At first we rolled our eyes when the nutritionist suggested throwing out plastic and replacing the toaster, but we noticed an improvement with our daughter when we did (and she's not considered SS but is close - my stepmom has Celiac and doesn't even follow the diet and she has few, if any , reactions). If your daughter turns out to be SS, it might be best to abandon the school providing lunch (if they do). Make sure if they microwave things for her that they cover them with a paper towel to prevent food dropping from the roof of the microwave (or send a separate microwave).

And, of course, there are kids who need medication in addition to the diet to help remain symptom free.

If the lunchroom doesn't wipe off tables between groups eating (and they may not), consider sending her to school with a wipe in a baggie and a plastic glove to clean her area off herself. I know that sounds a bit extreme but if her levels are still high, you are at an extreme point, KWIM?

Oops, one other thing (sorry, I can be long-winded!) - if she is SS (or even close to it), be careful what GF items she eats. If it's naturally gluten free, broccoli, chicken breast, rice, etc things are great. If you buy gluten free items like crackers, bread, cereal, etc keep in mind that in order for an item to be considered GF, it must fall within a certain guideline (I think it's under 20 ppm?). However, if a child ate a large amount of that item (or several items), the trace amounts could add up to a level that would cause a reaction. (I hope that made sense).

Good luck!
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  #7  
February 8th, 2011, 10:23 AM
fka teresarunningmommy
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: Michigan
Posts: 47,594
Quote:
Originally Posted by Slipper View Post
The ingredient I've found in chocolate milk is malt (barley derivative) and it wasn't in the chocolate milk at our last school either, just our current one. She would come home daily with stomach aches before we figured it out. The hardest part about Celiac (for me) was in how many places it can hide.

With a private school, the 504 is not applicable, but it's good that they are working with you. Do they cook her lunches? I would look at that for possible CC. Depending on your daughter's level of sensitivity, that might be the solution.

Super Sensitive kids would react to very small trace amounts. If you have a SS child, then plastic bowls,plates, cutting boards, etc that contained gluten could be causing a problem now. Same with blenders and toasters. At first we rolled our eyes when the nutritionist suggested throwing out plastic and replacing the toaster, but we noticed an improvement with our daughter when we did (and she's not considered SS but is close - my stepmom has Celiac and doesn't even follow the diet and she has few, if any , reactions). If your daughter turns out to be SS, it might be best to abandon the school providing lunch (if they do). Make sure if they microwave things for her that they cover them with a paper towel to prevent food dropping from the roof of the microwave (or send a separate microwave).

And, of course, there are kids who need medication in addition to the diet to help remain symptom free.

If the lunchroom doesn't wipe off tables between groups eating (and they may not), consider sending her to school with a wipe in a baggie and a plastic glove to clean her area off herself. I know that sounds a bit extreme but if her levels are still high, you are at an extreme point, KWIM?

Oops, one other thing (sorry, I can be long-winded!) - if she is SS (or even close to it), be careful what GF items she eats. If it's naturally gluten free, broccoli, chicken breast, rice, etc things are great. If you buy gluten free items like crackers, bread, cereal, etc keep in mind that in order for an item to be considered GF, it must fall within a certain guideline (I think it's under 20 ppm?). However, if a child ate a large amount of that item (or several items), the trace amounts could add up to a level that would cause a reaction. (I hope that made sense).

Good luck!
I think she is in the SS category honestly. We have cut everything out. We've bought separate jars of PB, jelly, margarine, etc and she is still having high antibodies. I am going to try to reduce the processed foods, but that is difficult. She lives on Chex cereal. I am ready to pull all my hair out trying to figure out where she is getting contaminated. I want to wrap her up in plastic wrap.

(We pack her lunch by the way. I will see about the microwave. I hadn't thought of that one. She takes in food that needs to be microwaved quite a bit.)
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  #8  
February 15th, 2011, 03:37 PM
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I don't know much about Celiac's but in addition to your DD telling the substitute teacher ask the regular teacher leave a not about it with anything special that may need done in case of a reaction. I am a sub and teacher have left me notes about allergies. It makes it less stressful for me, knowing "Johnny can't have this. If he does, do x, y, and/or z"
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  #9  
February 16th, 2011, 05:55 PM
Jennmarie's Avatar Platinum Supermommy
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Augie View Post
I don't know much about Celiac's but in addition to your DD telling the substitute teacher ask the regular teacher leave a not about it with anything special that may need done in case of a reaction. I am a sub and teacher have left me notes about allergies. It makes it less stressful for me, knowing "Johnny can't have this. If he does, do x, y, and/or z"
That's a great idea! I can see where it would reduce your stress a little to have an action plan.

~This is a little extreme-but another idea would be to copy something we have to use at work. We have clients who are choking precautions, and they have a "24 hour plan" that goes everywhere with them. It spells out what their problems with meals are, what the dangers are, and how to prevent the dangers. It also has a picture and identifying info on it. Maybe you could come up with something like that for the teacher/staff if you continue to have issues.
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