Going to a baseball game is a really fun summer time activity and is a great way to spend an afternoon with friends or family. Among the cheering crowds and home runs, however, there is often an element of risk for those with food allergies – especially those allergic to nuts. Every baseball game I have been to has many fans chomping on a big bag of peanuts and throwing their shells all over the ground. I have had more than one run-in with this and it can be a scary situation! Although there is a very slim chance of any of the nut proteins becoming aerosolized and you ingesting them causing a reaction, it is still anxiety provoking to be sitting with a pile of peanut shells at your feet. Many people will often avoid going to baseball games for this reason alone but if you are vigilant and careful you can still safely enjoy the game!
Before buying your tickets check to see if there is a special “nut-free” section at the stadium. In Toronto, they have special games throughout the season where they offer a nut-free zone for families to sit in where no nuts are allowed. Look at your local team’s website to see if there is a safer option for you.
Since the nuts can’t always be avoided, you need to be aware of your surroundings. When I first get to my seat I do a quick scan of those sitting beside me as well as the rows behind and in front of me to check for any peanuts. If I do see someone eating them I will work it out with my friends to ensure that I am sitting as far away as possible from the nuts.
You should also feel okay letting those around you know about your nut allergy. I have been in the situation where a man sitting two seats down from me beside my friend got a big bag of peanuts in the middle of the game. Before I even noticed my friend was kind enough to let the man know of my food allergies and asked if he could not throw his shells on the ground. He was extremely understanding and kept all of the shells contained.
If you plan on eating at the game, there are lots of options that can be allergen safe. The peanuts are almost always sold in a sealed bag so there is little to no risk of cross contamination. To ensure that you are eating safely though, it is best to eat your food in the concourse area just to make sure you aren’t ingesting any stray nut proteins that may be surrounding you. It is also important to wash your hands with soap and water before eating in case you may have touched surfaces that those eating peanuts have as well.
In the end you shouldn’t be avoiding the baseball game in fear of having a reaction! There are some easy ways to make the experience safe and if you are with friends and family who know about your allergies and you have your auto-injector, you should be just fine. So go on and enjoy the 7th inning stretch, do the wave, and cheer on the home team!Baseball Game, Cross-contamination, Lindsay S.