Restaurants are facing rising rates of food allergies among customers, leading to increasing numbers of special requests to modify dishes to suit the diner’s needs. Now, they are facing rising rates of another kind of allergy: latex allergies.
According toWJHG,latex gloves worn by workers preparing food can present a health hazard to customers who are allergic not to the ingredients in the dish, but to the latex.
Sylvia Williams is one former restaurant diner who has faced this problem firsthand. When she goes out to eat with her husband, she sips on water while he enjoys a meal. Though she’d love to join in, she doesn’t feel safe doing so because she doesn’t know what kind of gloves are worn by the kitchen staff. She has a latex allergy, and if latex touches her food, it could cause a reaction. “My throat could close up, I start itching, my eyes burn and water” she explains.
Increased exposure to latex increases potential for reaction
Williams is not alone; a growing number of people have developed latex allergies. Dr. Carla Hinds, who tests patients for suspected latex allergies, says that the more you are exposed to latex, the more severely you are likely to react to it.
Most people with latex allergies have become sensitized after working in the health care industry, where they constantly wear latex gloves. Now, latex allergies are becoming more common among food service employees. Although many restaurants and medical facilities have switched to nitrile, a non-latex alternative, though latex (the cheapest option) is still commonly used. Latex gloves are already banned in several states; Williams is now lobbying for a ban on latex gloves in Florida restaurants.