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Food allergies can run the gamut from being a painful inconvenience to something potentially fatal if not treated correctly, and they make food safety a top priority in the home.

While the easiest solution is to just avoid buying anything with allergens, it’s not always that easy and in many cases the goal becomes containing these allergens and stopping them from coming in contact with other foods. This can be easier said than done, however, particularly if you’ve never had to organize your kitchen in a specific way before.

With this in mind, there are ways to organize a kitchen to prevent food allergens from coming into contact with one another with a little patience and imagination. Here’s a few of the best ways to organize a pantry and a kitchen to prevent food allergens from contaminating your meals:

 

Careful labels on everything

The best way to start is to carefully mark everything. If a canned good or boxed food contains a product that someone in the house is allergic to, use different colored markers to try and identify each product so you know what it contains and why it needs to be separated. If you pack lunches for anyone in your household, use these markers to identify whose container is whose to lessen the risk of cross-contamination.

 

Give everything a separate home

If you can’t avoid having certain allergens in the home, giving everything their own place to stay separate from everything else is one of the safest ways to prevent allergens. If space allows, clear out part of your pantry (or anywhere else, such as wall shelves in the kitchen) and keep foods such as nuts or other common allergens on that shelf and nowhere else. This would also be a good use for pantry organizers to keep everything further divided and separate. Make sure everything is properly labeled as always so you know what goes where—and what shouldn’t go where.

 

Think about who could get into these

Ideally, grownups or older kids with allergies will know the risk these allergies could pose and avoid touching them. Younger kids, however, may not take the lessons as well, so you may need to get a little clever with your organization. If you have curious little hands that may wind up grazing something they can’t eat (or touch), then try to focus on putting the things they’re allergic to up high and/or behind locked pantry doors. Out of sight, out of mind—this way they won’t be tempted to try anything they shouldn’t eat.

 

Keep a list

Finally, no matter how long you’ve been dealing with these allergies, it’s always a good idea to keep a written list of who is allergic to what, and what’s in the kitchen that they can’t have. Not only will this serve as a handy way to keep track of everything in your pantry, it will also be a visual reminder of the safety and allergen issues throughout the home so everybody knows what they’re dealing with and where it’s stored. This might be a tricky habit to get into but it’ll be best for everyone in the long run.

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