“Ask Cathy” Food Allergy Advice: Is Kissing Cross-Contamination?

Dear Cathy,

I’m in high school and just started dating. My boyfriend knows that I have food allergies and has been really sweet about making sure there’s always something safe for me to eat. But he still eats like normal. If he eats something that I have to avoid, is it safe to kiss him?

Thanks so much,

Ava
Trenton, MO

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Dear Ava,

Great question! It goes back to just how much of an allergen is capable of causing an allergic reaction, and the answer depends on the allergen in question and your own personal sensitivity.

For example, peanuts are notorious for causing reactions with even a small amount of residue left on a plate, utensil or table. Folks who are highly sensitive to peanuts have to bring table cloths and their own dinnerware to truly avoid cross-contamination.

Are your allergies manageable without such measures? If so, residue left on your boyfriend’s lips and in his mouth may not be enough to create a reaction. But it’s always better to be safe than sorry, so ask him to get into the habit of swishing water in his mouth after every meal and wiping his mouth on a napkin.

I’m sure he’ll be happy to do so if kissing is at stake!

Waiting several hours after eating before planting one on him is another option, and the absolute safest solution is to ask your boyfriend to avoid your allergens altogether, at least while you are spending time together. If he’s already been accommodating, he likely will make the extra effort.

If you still have worries, talk to your allergist about your specific allergies and how much of the allergen you’d need to ingest in order to have a reaction. He or she can give you a far more specific and reassuring answer.

Finally, I wanted to say that it’s wonderful you spoke up about your allergy early on in your relationship!

Best of luck,

Cathy


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About Cathy

Cathy is just like you: She worries about food choices, where to eat and whether friends and family will be as careful about food allergens and cross-contamination as you are. She is diligent, and she is also a food allergy warrior.

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