Monday, July 6, 2009

Food Allergy Label Lessons Learned

I hope everybody had a safe, happy holiday! I wanted to share some experiences that we had over the holiday so that you can benefit from them and not make the same mistakes. :)

When we're out and about, we basically stick to popsicles because those seem to be safest for our daughter's nut allergy. Well, the other day at the pool concession stand (she and her sister like to head over there on their own--it's their new thing) my daughter attempted to buy a "Power Puff Girls" character ice cream bar. It had a nut allergy warning, so after reading the label (Yes! She's so good, she always checks) she returned it to the very nice boy working at the stand and exchanged it for a "Bomb Pop" (you know, those red, white and blue popsicles that are sold in the summertime.) Her sister even exchanged her ice cream bar, even though she doesn't have allergies, just to be in solidarity with her sister. I had nothing to do with that exchange between the two of them and I have to admit, it warmed my heart.

It looks like most "character" ice cream bars have peanut allergy warnings, so I would advise steering your kids away from those. It's a lot better if they know those are off limits from the beginning. Because they generally include candy for the "eyes" this makes them more likely to have nut allergen warnings.

And, speaking of the Bomb Pop--that one had a "contains milk protein" allergy warning. Just in case you're looking out for both dairy and nut allergies, you should be aware of it.

In addition, my husband went to Trader Joe's and bought blue corn tortilla chips for a 4th of July party at our house. He is usually a very thorough label reader so I didn't want to "back seat drive" and remind him about reading labels. Guess what? He wound up with tortilla chips that had allergy warnings for a bunch of foods, including tree nuts and peanuts. Oh well--that reinforces the need to remind everybody who is shopping for your child to check the labels. I know that Trader Joe's does have chips that are safe for nut allergies, but if you've been to TJ you know that they have about 20 brands of chips. Very confusing, even for the old nut allergy veterans among us (like my DH)!

I bring all of this up not to make us look like fools but to let you know that we all make these mistakes with food and that it's completely appropriate to be a compulsive label-reader.

In the end, it all turned out well. And we learned a few things. Not a bad weekend!

6 comments:

colleen d. said...

Thanks for the reminder to always read labels. I picked up a bag of organic dried beans and much to my dismay, there was a tree nut cross contamination warning. Who would of thought a bag of dried beans would have such an allergen label. It was a good lesson to me to always read the labels no matter how safe I think the food.

Anonymous said...

thanks so much for these warnings...it happens to the best of us and sometimes I feel terrible always being the "back seat driver" to my poor husband!

...and I love how your youngest daughter also made the return...priceless...

- MaNut to NoNut - said...

Glad everything turned out ok! That is awesome about your girls working together over the popsicles -- it says a lot about you and the way you are raising them! Way to go! :)

Jake said...

Trader Joe's carries SO MANY products that feature the generic C.Y.A. "all seven allergens" warning. You really expect me to believe that these cookies are made on shared equipment with shellfish? Please. Companies need to tell the truth.

Nicole said...

I love the fact that sister switched for her. What an awesome sister!

Jenny said...

I agree with Jake about truth in labeling. They have the same types of labels at Williams-Sonoma and other "gourmet"-type brands. I don't know what to believe and am quite certain that half the time the labels are overly inclusive. Hopefully the new FDA rules will improve on this "list all top 8 allergens" approach--the FDA had a hearing on food allergy labels months ago and I can't wait to find out what they decide.