As a food handler, it’s your job to be aware of different customer allergies that you may come across while on the job. One less common, but very important allergy to understand is an allergy to latex.
Although it may seem like an odd allergy to discuss in regards to food handling, after reading this article you will understand why it is so important.
First let’s start by understanding what latex actually is.
What is latex?
Latex is a natural substance created from the sap of the rubber tree, or Hevea brasiliensis.
Note: There is also a form of synthetic latex that is not derived the rubber tree. We will not be focusing on synthetic latex in this article as it does not cause the symptoms of a latex allergy.
Some common items that contain latex include:
- Rubber bands
- Latex gloves
- And many more common items…
What causes a latex allergy?
A person with a latex allergy has an overactive immune system that falsely identifies latex as a harmful substance.
The body will then sends antibodies to fight the substance, releasing chemicals into the bloodstream which creates an allergy that may have multiple, different symptoms.
What does a latex allergy have to do with food?
At this point, you may be asking yourself what latex has to do with food and why it matters for food handlers.
You see, although most latex allergies occur in direct response to pure latex exposure, some common foods have proteins that are very similar to those found in the sap of the rubber tree.
These similar proteins can cause people with latex allergies to exhibit symptoms just like would be found in a normal latex allergy.
It is important for food handlers to be aware of foods that can cause a latex allergic reaction so they can be more prepared while working in the kitchen.
What foods are Latex Reactive:
Latex allergies found in the kitchen are commonly referred to as cross-reactive foods. They are as follows:
Other Latex-Reactive Foods
What are latex allergy symptoms?
Latex allergy symptoms can range from mild to very severe, therefore it is important for food handlers to be aware of what the consumption of food-reactive foods could lead to.
Common latex allergies can include:
- Stuffy or even running nose
- Difficulty breathing
Anaphylaxis is a serious reaction in which a person can have breathing difficulty and loss of blood pressure, sometimes leading to death.
Although less than 1% of the population is allergic to latex, it is still important for food handlers to be aware of the latex allergies and latex-reactive foods.