Going ‘Nuts’ At The Deli Counter

Think you’re just buying lunchmeat at your local grocer’s deli counter?  You could get be getting a lot more than you bargain for if you have nut allergies.

Living with multiple food allergies in our home, I buy a lot of our groceries from the produce section and the deli counter of our local grocery store.  I particularly like to buy my deli meat at the counter because it tends to have less preservatives and chemicals than the pre-packaged variety.

A few years ago, I was killing time looking at all the deli meats and cheeses in the deli showcase while my order was filled.  I was stunned to see a lunchmeat containing pistachio nuts.  Deli meats fresh from the counter were the last place I would have expected nuts.

(The lunchmeat in question is called Boar’s Head Mortadella with Pistachio Nuts.  Most deli counters sell a plain and pistachio version of the mortadella lunchmeat.)

That got me thinking about the meats and cheeses that are prepared on the food slicers.  What if the last meat sliced on that piece of equipment was the mortadella with pistachio and it was now touching lunchmeat my family would be eating?  I was horrified.

My first reaction was to visit another grocer to see if they also carried the same mortadella with pistachio…and they did.  Almost every grocer’s deli I visited carried that particular lunchmeat.

I don’t know how popular the mortadella with pistachio is, but I do know it’s not worth the risk of my family’s health.

I still purchase meats from my local deli counter, but I have a system.  Before going to the store, I pull out a sticky note with my name on it and list the brands and names of the lunchmeats and cheeses I will be ordering and how much of each I will need.  At the top of the sticky note in big, bold letters I write, “Please clean food slicer first.  My family has life-threatening food allergies.”  I personally hand the note to the staff and ask them to please take special care with our order.  I know which order is mine when I come back to pick it up because the sticky is on top!

I’ll admit, the first time or two I tried this method, I got some strange looks.  Thoroughly cleaning the food slicer took time and elbow grease…not to mention soap and hot water, so I’m sure they dreaded the extra work and how it would slow down other orders.  But with time, the process became faster and the employees more understanding.  Now, when they see me coming, I’m greeted with a smile and they immediately start cleaning a meat slicer for my order.

So take care when placing your deli order to inform the staff of your food allergies.  I think you will be pleasantly surprised at how willing they are to work with you.  Let them know how much you appreciate their efforts!  A smile and word of thanks can go a long way!


One thought on “Going ‘Nuts’ At The Deli Counter

  1. While I certainly comprehend your family’s medical issues as a medical professional myself, I wonder if it would improve your family’s worry and your stress to order your meats from a small local meat shop where it is more likely the orders are fewer and therefore the chances of the meat slicer actually being used on that particular cut of meat fewer. This way you don’t make unreasonable high time investment and staff time making them clean just for you. Others are waiting too. They probably would appreciate it if all the staff time weren’t going to one order.


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