Little did I know that living in Massachusetts was a safe haven for someone with a latex allergy like me. Massachusetts is one of a handful of states that regulates the use of latex gloves in restaurants. I found it out the hard way that not every state has rules about using latex gloves in food preparation.
Now that I'm living in D.C., I realize that my latex allergy affects me a lot more than I thought it ever would. I learned it the hard way. I found myself on the way to the ER after eating a sandwich that was merely prepared by someone wearing latex gloves. Safe to say I am now extremely careful of who prepares my food.
As someone who has to deal with this daily, I have two major tips for others with the allergy and some things that people should consider if they work in restaurants.
1. Do Your Research
If you have a similar allergy to mine, I highly suggest finding a handful of restaurants that you know do not use latex gloves in their kitchen. This will give you a stress free eating environment and it's somewhere you know you can always count on. There are many chain restaurants like Chipotle, Chick-fil-a, or Panera that are nationally latex free so you know you can always go there.
When I find a restaurant I'd like to go to, I usually call them before I go to see what kind of gloves they use. If they do use latex gloves they're usually very willing to prepare my food separately. Allergies make restaurants very nervous so letting them know before hand will ensure they will be extra helpful.
2. Don't Be Afraid to Ask
Another tip would be to get used to asking this question a million times, "Do the gloves you use in the kitchen contain latex?". People are usually confused as to why you ask this question, but don't be afraid to tell them about your allergies. Own it.
Many people assume all gloves are latex so if it is possible, it's helpful to see the box so you can determine this yourself. It's important that restaurants know that they're not only limiting their customers, but putting their employees at risk by using latex gloves.
Many hospitals are now latex-free as constant exposure to latex in the form of gloves can cause individuals to develop this allergy themselves.
Many people are not aware that the FDA does not require gloves to be used in the kitchen. If gloves are enforced by the FDA in certain situations, the type of glove is not specified, therefore, latex gloves do not need to be used.