Don't get me wrong--I'm really glad that the Chicago Tribune is following up on their food allergy investigation with stories like this one that talked about how stores are pulling more supposedly "allergen-free" items that are actually filled with an allergen. The latest story that ran Saturday (check the link) talked about gluten-free items that had to be pulled.
Apparently, a customer with celiac disease became nauseated from a contaminated food and it was discovered that the "gluten-free" Hy-Vee brand chicken bites she ate were actually filled with gluten. The brand pulled the item from store shelves, which helped prevent further illness.
From my perspective, there was just one problem with this story. The woman in question was pregnant and her only reported symptom was that she became nauseated after eating. I don't know about you mothers out there, but when I was pregnant, I became nauseated after eating all the time--and not just during those first 3 months.
The "example consumer" given in this article was troubling to me, because even though it is certainly not good that a pregnant woman and her child were exposed to an allergen harmful to the mother, does this story inspire sympathy in the non-allergic? Or does it make us seem, well, a little over the top?
I'm not picking on people with wheat allergies or celiac disease--I know they are no fun and present several challenges. And I know that true wheat allergies are just as severe as nut allergies. But in the case of this Tribune article is some nausea comparable to anaphylaxis, such as can occur with a severe allergic reaction?
Of course anyone with a food allergy or sensitivity should report it and let others -- including companies -- know about it. No one should have to suffer any symptoms at all if they can avoid it. But there is a big difference between life-threatening reactions (or severe G.I. distress, as can occur with celiac disease) and some minor physical discomfort.
Because of the "nature of the beast" the line between the two often gets blurred. And I'm not sure how it can be resolved so that everyone affected gets a fair shake.