I was just returning to consciousness after spending a peculiar night floating through Dreamland on a mission to eat as many chocolates, candy bars and ice cream treats as possible when the morning news came on, sending volleys of horrifying language through the air like sabers headed for my pillow. As the clipped, rather patronizing voice garbled on the reality of what he was saying pulled the last vestiges of sleep from my eyes. I bid farewell to the dancing kaleidoscope of tasty friends from last night’s travels and sat up in bed to better hear his report.
“A recent UK study revealed that one third of food packaging tested was contaminated with latex. The latex was transferred to food in some cases. In one unnamed chocolate biscuit, the amount of latex found was 20 times the level that instigates a reaction.”
After all I’ve had to put up with these past few years, loading up on folic acid to drop my homocysteine level down from Olympian heights, only to abandon the vitamin later when further research showed it to be worthless in preventing coronary syndromes and such, now this occurs. How can I ever buy a bag of Maltesers again without at least a modicum of hesitation, wondering if the first bite might also be my last?
“Graham Lowe, an expert with the UK Latex Allergy Support Group, says, ‘For a few people, natural rubber latex is a very potent allergen and for [them] there is no safe level of exposure.’ While no ‘safe’ amount of latex has been agreed on, experts say just a billionth of a gram is enough to cause an allergic reaction in some people.”
I certainly appreciate the media’s diligence in reporting this bit of news from the U.K. to the rest of the world, however, after taking a few invigorating sips of the morning tea my senses found it safe to return home and, once settled in the driver’s seat high up in the old noggin, began to make statements like “You don’t live in London, you moron!” and “94 to 99% of Britons do not have a latex allergy anyway.”
It exactly this type of logic that interferes with my plan to encourage people to eat a more healthy diet. We don’t really want to chomp on that chocolate bar at 10-o’clock in the morning now do we? Nor do we want to make a spectacle of ourselves in public by keeling over after biting into an ice cream sandwich – the embarrassment alone would propel us to submit our resignation, withdraw from the university or (God forbid!) miss the last six innings of the game.
I say keep the latex in candy and ice cream wrappers and begin a publicity campaign to discourage consumers from purchasing such junk food for fear of suffering the hellfires of an allergic reaction. Do the experts agree with me?
“The Food Standards Agency says it is too early to make conclusions about latex in food safety, and advises people not to change their eating habits.”
Oh well - back to the drawing board.