You be the Judge: Should Woman Refrain from Eating Eggs on Workdays?

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We’ve come across a reddit gem regarding food allergies that has provoked significant controversy on the platform, so we are posting the story here to get your feedback as part of our popular “You be the Judge” series.

We’ve referred to the “AITA” subreddit (i.e. group) before where this story is posted. AITA is short for “Am I the A-Hole” and it provides a medium where people question their own behavior and the readers vote.

The story, entitled “AITA for eating something my coworker is deathly allergic to?” by poster u/Nettie_Moore starts with another woman at work who suffers from a severe egg allergy. The boss has taken steps to protect the woman at work, banning eggs and various egg products to help avoid contact. But he goes a step beyond and that’s where the controversy starts.

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Here is u/Nettie_Moore’s story:

There’s a woman in my office who is anaphylactic to eggs. We’ve been asked at work to refrain from bringing eggs, egg cartons, egg products etc into the office as it can trigger a reaction. We’ve also been asked to refrain from eating eggs on the days we’re at the office with her – this means on lunch break (if we happen to go out of office for lunch) but also prior to coming in to the office too (ie breakfast).

I’m more than happy to comply with refraining from consuming eggs at work or in work hours as I know how terrible such a trigger would be for her.

However, I eat eggs as part of my breakfast nearly every morning. So after I eat breakfast, I take a shower, brush my teeth and then get ready for work.

Another coworker of mine (not the one with the allergy) found out about it and called me an AH and said I’m putting our coworker in danger. I explained everything I do to mitigate the risks but she wouldn’t hear any of it.

So, AITA?

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The post has received 6.9K “upvotes” to date, meaning readers find it interesting or thought-provoking.

So now we turn to you, the food allergy community — experts in this realm — and ask you to be the judge. What feedback would you give to the poster? Is she wrong to draw the line between work and home or should she go the extra mile?

Sound off below and let us know what you think.

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Dave Bloom
Dave Bloom
Dave Bloom is CEO and "Blogger in Chief" of SnackSafely.com.

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13 COMMENTS

  1. I think this is a hard one, because telling a person that they can’t do something at home (in this case, not eat eggs before coming into the office) truly seems like a big ask. Especially if someone relies on eggs as their source of protein. My daughter has a peanut allergy, so we request that the kids wash their hands when they first get to the classroom in the morning & after lunch. Anytime someone brings a pre-packaged snack for the whole class, that contains peanuts, the treat is passed out at the end of the day outside the door of the classroom. The important thing for us is keeping the allergen out of her learning environment. It is nearly impossible to know what allergens may be present anywhere, whether it be school, the office, store, etc. So teaching our daughter that extra precautions need to be taken, even in places that are suppose to be safe. I will say that I have had parents tell me that their child got mad when the parent tried to feed them peanut butter for breakfast or lunch, because they didn’t want anything bad to happen our daughter if they accidentally exposed her. This co-worker is at least showering, brushing their teeth & putting on clean clothes so that no egg is present. Which is probably more than other people who may work in the same office building, who are not direct co-workers, who ate eggs for breakfast, touched the door handle to their office building, pressed the buttons for the elevator & is now in an enclosed space on the elevator with the person who has the egg allergy. So, my point is, the Supervisor can control the employees direct work environment/office, but you can’t take on the world when you truly don’t have control outside of safe environment.

    • This is exactly how I feel. It’s admirable to have empathy and adjust your home life out of compassion and care, but I think the egg-free workplace is the most the boss should ask of employees. I appreciate the steps the coworker is taking–as you said, it is more than others will do outside of the office.

  2. If my child who is in middle school can sit in a large courtyard surrounded by kids eating all his allergens including wheat and eggs and yet he knows how to keep himself safe by finding a safe space to eat and avoiding direct contact with friends unwashed hands (it is middle school after all)- if my 14 year old can do this, then an adult with a food allergy should know how to take care of themselves. In our food allergy journey we have learned this, we can ask for certain accommodations for his education but expecting every single person he comes in contact with to navigate around his allergies is not reasonable. Especially asking them to change what they do at home. Where is the science that proves eating eggs at home will impact the allergic person at work? Be an adult- if you have allergies, learn how to navigate around it. If you have a colleague who has allergies, don’t shove their allergen in their face or around them and wash your hands if you have direct contact with them.

  3. I feel sorry for all people involved. If I were that person with the allergy (which… I am! I’m an adult with an egg allergy), I would be humbled that my coworkers would be willing to keep the workplace free of eggs, and I would try to figure out a way for me to engage safely with people who have eaten eggs for breakfast. Maybe wear a mask or something. Or just communicate by phone or zoom in the morning. I’m not sure how severe the egg allergy really is, but I would guess if it’s so severe that the person can’t be around people who have eaten eggs in the last few hours, then this poor person literally cannot go outside their home for anything (gas, groceries, etc.). Perhaps a remote job would be better suited, if possible. What a tough one.

  4. My daughter has an egg allergy… if we eat eggs we just don’t give her kisses and make sure we wash up, etc. If the co-worker is not going to be in the allergic person’s face, it honestly shouldn’t be a problem. I think the workplace has gone above and beyond what most people would do. Let the people eat their eggs for breakfast and carry on.

  5. My 10-yr-old has multiple allergies, I would never ask someone not to eat an allergen in their own homes–though I have had some very generous friends do just that with peanuts in particular! But they willingly volunteered!). As much as being careful with little toddlers and children may require accommodation due to their developmental stage, we are talking about adults here who can wash their hands and wipe off tables as-needed. I have friends with air-born allergies to foods, and they do have to get to the grocery store early before others arrive to get by–but food in someone’s mouth isn’t going to be powdery or dusty, it’s going to be wet and stay where it is. People need to have a little common sense here.

  6. This is exactly how I feel. It’s admirable to have empathy and adjust your home life out of compassion and care, but I think the egg-free workplace is the most the boss should ask of employees. I appreciate the steps the coworker is taking–as you said, it is more than others will do outside of the office.

  7. My daughter is AA to eggs. Her safety is priority. However, We have never made requests that go this far. This co-worker sounds accommodating, but these restrictions seem too much.

  8. I guess I am an AH too, then, because I eat eggs in my house and I have an egg allergic child.

    This is absurd. Unless the letter writer is licking her coworker, there’s literally no reason she can’t eat eggs for breakfast.

  9. It seems the workplace has gone above and beyond which is commendable. I do not think it’s appropriate to dictate what someone eats at home. My son has a severe allergy to tree nuts, we keep our home free from tree nuts but outside the home he knows to be careful, read labels, or just go without. I do not think this person is an AH. If anything they are going above and beyond by washing up afterwards.

  10. At some point people would starve to death for fear of others presumed issues. If that woman truly was st such a hazard she couldn’t get to work. She’d be in hospital and still be in danger. Have her work remotely but it’s not right to regime the home diets of another. Workers could encounter allergens at the gas station or grocery. Are you to terminate them for brushing against a farmer or a child who’s had a messy lunch?!

  11. It is admirable that the workplace has accommodated so well. This coworker also seems to be taking it seriously and taking appropriate precautions. I don’t work outside of home anymore (I do teletherapy now instead of in person, due to the risk my allergies pose to my life) my house is free of my allergens, but even I would be more than satisfied with this level of accommodation.

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