Food Labels Drive Me Nuts!


Labels.  Boy do they Drive Us Nuts!  (pun fully intended and I hope it made you smile!)

I received this question today and it was so great that I decided to share it:
“I have a question to parents of kids with peanut allergies – Do you give your children products that have labels indicating, “made in a facility” on “processed on equipment that”?

First things first!  I want to celebrate Rachael for writing to me.  I am always so appreciative when people care and are kind enough to ask questions.  Not everyone does or has to, so when they do…I appreciate them very much.  One person at a time, the worlds gets a little safer.  Thank you, Racheal!

We (as in my Chew Chew family specifically) and most families that we know in our allergy community do not give our children products with a risk of cross contamination. The reason is because when foods are cross processed in a plant it places all foods produced there at risk for containing  peanut/peanut protein in them. This would be a significant risk for our children if ingested and our family’s allergist (and most!) advise against it.

Currently, labeling laws in our country require food manufacturers to list when an allergen is present in a food. They do this by listing it in either the ingredients section or by issuing a allergen warning. Food manufacturers are currently not legally required to label when items are “made in a facility” or “processed on shared equipment.” Many companies are doing this voluntarily, which is wonderful, but others choose not too.  This inconsistency in food labeling causes a lot of confusion and it is why allergy families ALWAYS have to check labels and also company websites.

An example of this is that my mother-in-law (she is awesome by the way) was so excited to find Lindt chocolate that did not have peanuts listed as an ingredient and that did not have an allergen warning on the package. Based upon this, she assumed it to be safe, BUT when I referred her to the company’s website, they list this under their allergen statements:

Nuts in Lindt Products
Unfortunately, no Lindt product is 100% guaranteed nut allergen safe. The “may contain tree nuts or peanuts” warning informs you that the product may contain minute traces of tree nuts or peanuts because they are produced on the same production lines. All Lindt manufacturing facilities process nut products, so there is a potential for cross contamination. Though Lindt incorporates the most thorough cleaning process, trace amounts may cross contact with other products within the factory. According to allergen experts, a simple nut protein trace can cause an allergic reaction and you should consult your physician for a consumption recommendation. Lindt is aware of the growing prevalence of restricted diets due to nut allergies, and we are sensitive to the fact that these consumers may not be able to enjoy our chocolate at this time.”

Currently, Lindt does not list “may contain” statement on all of their packaging, yet their website states clearly, “All Lindt manufacturing facilities process nut products, so there is a potential for cross contamination.”

Makes things kind of confusing, right?  Tell me about it! We read labels multiple times and we check company websites and that is what we are teaching our son to do as well.

So now you have the long, long answer, but the short answer is no we don’t offer foods that have labels indicating, “made in a facility” on “processed on equipment that,” because they are a dangerous risk for us.

Labels give us the biggest headache. It’s best to ask an allergy mom or dad for a recommendation if you aren’t sure about a safe food to offer. We usually know how to find a safe version of EVERYTHING and we love working with others so that we can be a help and so our children can remain safe and included.

My son can not eat M&Ms, but he can eat another version of them, called Skippers (click here see them), that look EXACTLY the same minus the “m” letters.  So we can still do all the cute Pinterest food party ideas, we just have to find the safe alternatives to achieve it.  And when we can’t find a safe alternative, our motto is always, “when in doubt, do without.

I want to thank you again, Rachael, you are AWESOME for reaching out to ask that question and I personally want to thank you for being so kind today. Happy Saturday!

I am here always if you have any other questions!

Happy, healthy eating!