With the holiday baking season upon us, (yum!) I've had several e-mails about the safety of vanilla and other baking extracts. This is obviously a big concern for those of us who bake nut-free because most companies also produce almond extract.
I contacted three of the biggest manufacturers of vanilla extract and baking products: McCormick, Nielsen-Massey and Wilton. I'm very happy to report that 2 out of 3 of them don't even use "real" almond for their almond extract. Wilton, as most of you may have discovered already, is the most challenging, since they do have peanuts and tree nuts in their facility, even though some items are not sharing production lines. If you'd like to use their products, I'd say it's your call to make. Also, you may have to do some digging about each individual product. Their response below contains more info.
OK, here's what each company had to say in response to my e-mails inquiring about the safety of their extracts.
McCormick: "McCormick and Co. does not use peanuts or tree nuts in any of our facilities. The Oil of Bitter Almond used in our Pure Almond Extract is extracted from apricot kernels, not the almond itself."
Nielsen-Massey: "All of our products are nut free. We do not process anything with tree nuts in our facility. In fact our Almond Extract is actually made from bitter almond oil which comes from stone fruit pits such as peaches. Please be assured that all of our products are safe from nut allergens."
Wilton: "I have attached a link from our website that displays our vanilla extracts and the following allergy information:
No Peanuts/treenuts in the product but there are peanuts/treenuts present in the facility
No Peanuts/Treenuts in the product but there are peanuts/treenuts present in the facility
As far as our sprinkles and decorations are concerned, because we are very specific when it comes to food allergies, if you would kindly provide me with a few stock numbers from our website of some decorations that you are interested in because we want to make sure that we provide you with the correct information."