Peanuts in Hotels
I’ve mentioned before that I work in Downtown Louisville, and we recently had an Omni Hotel open nearby my work with a UPS store inside of it. It’s very fancy inside, and so a lot of my co-workers enjoy going there for meetings or to “WFO” (work from Omni) we like to say, just to escape our cubicles for a while or if there aren’t any work meeting rooms available. I am always cautious when there, and scoping out if anyone is eating around me, so I don’t escape to the Omni as often as others do. They have a whole grocery store area full of baked goods, ice cream, and peanut candies, but their sitting area is quite a distance from all that and normally no one is eating in there.
The other day I had a UPS package to return and figured I would go to the Omni to return it since it’s closest to me. There was clearly a conference going on, there were a lot more people than usual, and as I made my way up the escalator, I noticed a lot of food related booths and people eating. I figured I would get to the top of the escalator (which suddenly felt like it was moving very slowly) and make a beeline to the UPS store on the other side of these crowds of people. I held my breath and made a quick walk past the people and finally was able to let my breath out where there wasn’t anyone besides two people talking with water bottles in their hands. I was almost to the UPS store when I took a quick glance, no more than a second, into an empty conference room where I saw there was some type of peanut butter & jelly sandwich making contest about to take place. I couldn’t resist snapping a couple of photos once I realized the gallon-sized jars of peanut butter weren’t yet open:
I couldn’t believe my eyes! It was a restaurant franchising and innovation summit, and this was set up for an activity they were doing! It just emphasized that it is good I always take note of my surroundings. Had I been there 30 minutes later when this PB&J activity began, it would’ve been a different story and a potential reaction!
I ran into the UPS store, and then left down the escalator as quickly as possible. I noticed it wasn’t peanut food that I could see or smell, but I did check in with myself once I got back outside the building to see how I was feeling. I checked in with my breath, how my lips/face felt, and I went ahead and took a precautionary alaverttablet. I felt a little freaked out, but ultimately I didn’t have any signs of an allergic reaction the rest of the day.
I thought to myself, what are the chances of me stumbling upon this type of event, how rare is this?! But the reality set in and I knew it wasn’t rare. Peanuts and peanut ingredients are common, especially in hotels and at events and conferences.
I used to walk on my breaks inside at the Hyatt hotel to get some exercise in the winter months– I got this idea from people at my work who recommended it, but often my lip would swell afterwards and I would get a dry, itchy throat and have to take allergy medicine. For a few walks I couldn’t tell why this was happening, but assumed there must’ve been something peanut-related in the air that I wasn’t seeing. I looked around for food and never saw anything, but one day noticed they had a bunch of food out for catering conference rooms there tucked back in hallways. Once I noticed those, I would check the food I saw out, and it didn’t look peanut-y, it was normally all savory, but then one day I caught a glimpse of peanut butter labeled cookies and another dessert clearly topped with a mound of chopped peanuts, and so I’ve avoided going there ever since. I knew once I felt itchy a few times it was not a coincidence, and I should’ve trusted that there were peanut products around, but I enjoyed walking with co-workers and stretching my legs. Now I just bundle up and walk outside in the winter, or do yoga in a conference room.
I’m sure I will probably go back to that Omni UPS store, and sit in their lounge area, but I will be extra cautious knowing events like this take place there and I KNOW that the air, the furniture, tables, the door handles, escalator grip, restrooms, could all be contaminated. I will also always bring hand wipes to clear my own sitting/work area!
Staying in Hotels
This brings me to the topic of staying and rooming in hotels! I always call or email inquiring if they have peanut products in the rooms, in the lobby, and in their breakfast/food. Most of the time places DO have them in the lobby for sale or in their breakfast in some form, so I proceed cautiously, but sometimes they won’t, and in those cases, I book with them happily! I started asking after we were in Denmark, of all places, we had gotten to our hotel with all our luggage during our honeymoon, and immediately bowls of peanuts all around the lobby caught my attention! I fled the scene and waited for my husband to check us in, and avoided the lobby, but knew likely a lot of things at the hotel were contaminated so I had to be extra careful and not treat any signs of a reaction lightly.
I’ve accepted that likely all public places are contaminated by food in some way, so I make sure to not touch my hands to my face. My Guide to Food Allergies and Cross Contamination goes into this further! It’s safe to say hotels are not my favorite places to be, as they’re usually risky and peanut-ridden!
Please let me know if you have any hotel questions. I’m happy to elaborate on what I ask and what I do as a precaution. You can comment below or contact me via my contact form!