Safe Snack List For School, Play Dates, Birthday Parties & Grandmothers

 

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When my son was first diagnosed with his peanut allergy several years ago, my mother asked me for the “grandmother’s list.”

“The what?”, I asked.

“The list of all the safe treats that I can give to my grandson; just give me the list so I don’t have to read labels”, she replied.

Boy, was I mad!

I was so grateful the communication exchange happened over email, so she didn’t see me stomping around like Mom-zilla with steam coming out of my ears. I was feeling frustrated that she didn’t want to read labels the few times a year we are together when I have to be a food detective and read multiple labels ON. A. DAILY. BASIS.

My first thoughts were, don’t you know:

  • that food manufacturing practices change ALL the time making previously safe things unsafe, so we always need to be diligent with checking labels for changes.
  • that I often have to call companies because they don’t all choose to list possible cross contamination risks.
  • that if a magical list existed, allergy and non-allergy moms all over the world would be singing Kumbaya?

I simmered down and realized…she really doesn’t know these things.  Most people don’t know these things.  My husband and I know these things, because we were forced to become peanut allergy experts when our sweet baby boy was diagnosed with his allergy. Diagnosis day on, we have been governed by the peanut allergy during every meal we eat, each and every day.  

I took a deep breath, picked up the phone and instead of feeling frustrated with her I shared information with her.  I gave her information on the challenges of the allergy and why I can’t realistically offer her a list that could be relied on to be safe all the time.  We came to a compromise that she would not bring food or candy as a gift…ever.

My mother is still a work in progress when it comes to learning about our son’s allergy, so imagine my delight when I discovered there is a list now!

An allergy parent team at snacksafely.com has created a website that offers (and continually updates) a SAFE SNACK GUIDE.

I am very happy about this list because my mom is not the only one that has asked me, “what can I bring that is safe?”  I get a LOT of questions about what foods are safe for play dates, sporting events and birthday parties too.  I think this serves as a great go-to list for friends and family that are trying to keep things safe when we are all together.

We will, as allergy parents, still check the labels and make phone calls regarding manufacturing procedures and changes.  We can’t help it.  It’s how our world works.  We do it to check for safety, but we also do it to teach our son how to keep himself safe. And let me just tell you…we LOVE, LOVE, LOVE reading labels that are safe.  So bring them on!

Snack Safely’s warning statement
“Even though a great deal of time is invested researching and keeping the Guide up to date, never rely upon it as a sole resource for protecting a child with food allergies. Always read the label before purchasing a product because manufacturers may change their ingredients and processes at any time. Your use of the Safe Snack Guide means that you have read and understand the disclaimers and warnings on the front page and agree to the Terms of Service. It is always up to the parent or guardian to consult with the manufacturer and make the final determination that a snack is safe for their child!”

Click here to get your Safe Snack Guide!

Happy, Healthy Eating!

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Comments

  1. Thank you so much for sharing, Cindy! We love your blog and appreciate the reference!

    We’d like to remind your readers that reading the label is NOT ENOUGH to ensure a product is safe for a child with food allergies! Due to flaws in our labeling regime, manufacturers are only required to warn you of 8 allergens that are INGREDIENTS of the product; they have no requirement to tell you that the allergen is processed in the same line or facility. Additional warnings like “May contain…” and “Manufactured on equipment with…” are entirely voluntary. There are no standards for when they are used, how they are worded, and where they are placed. Their absence does not mean the product is safe!

    For this reason, we have begun to partner directly with manufacturers to have them disclose their manufacturing processes as they relate to 10 allergens plus gluten. More information at SnackSafely.com.

    • I wish you and your family much success on meeting your objective to partner with manufacturers. What an amazing help that would be to many! I was very happy to see an expiration date on your list and hope that people will use them responsibly. As a peanut allergy family, we love that there is a place for friends and family to start. Giving them a place to go to find good possibilities, meets us half way and that is amazing. As the parents, we can and should do the final checking. Keep up the good work! Happy to share your story 🙂

  2. I’ve always been confused about this list, and I guess I still am. It seems to say that only the items in bold print are, for certain, checked for cross-contamination at the manufacturing level, right? It says for the balance that “many” of the items are checked (see below). That sort of puts me back to square one– I still need to research these items, right? I have used the list in the past only as a starting point for research. I check the items on http://www.trustthelabel.com or call the company. It was helpful last Halloween as I wasn’t sure where to begin! But I sure do wish that I could know which of the products were checked for cc at the factory… That would be a dream! From the list…

     For many, we have verified the manufacturing and labeling practices via participation in the SnackSafely.com Manufacturer Partnership Initiative or with their respective manufacturer’s consumer services

    They then mention that the ones checked through the initiative are in bold, but there’s no way to know which other items are checked:(

    • Hi Steph!

      Thanks for writing! I know it can be frustrating. I think your thoughts and questions are quite valid. I recommend reaching out to the team at snacksafely.com directly. As for my thoughts on your post, yes, you still need to check labels and by calling. We 100%, without doubt, always need to check. What I like about this list is that it gives our friends and family, like you said, “a place to start.” I’ve found within my own family (ie. grandma, aunts) that they need a place to start. They often think they’ve done great and then get frustrated when I say, “thank you so much for trying but Cheerios aren’t really a safe brand for us.” Snacksafely is on the beginning of an initiative to partner with companies which is a wonderful plan and I wish them a lot of luck. I am, what many would call, an over-protective allergy parent. I always proceed with caution, and like other allergy parents, I don’t think food is ever worth compromising my son’s life. I will always be checking. Until there are laws that make such partnerships enforceable there is always room for error and miscommunication. So use the list as a guide and follow the ABC’s (ALWAYS BE CHECKING!).