With food allergen labeling all over the map, it's always good to do your research on a product. Because my kids like dried fruit, I noticed while shopping one day that Ocean Spray Craisins say "peanut-free" on the bag. However, I also noticed that the company makes trail mix containing tree nuts, which are another group of allergens we need to avoid. Peanuts have definitely made it onto food companies' radar, but tree nuts, not so much even though they are one of the most common and potentially life-threatening food allergens.
I contacted the company for more info and was very happy with the following response:
"February 24, 2011
Thanks for contacting us over here at Ocean Spray, where we pride ourselves on 80 years of taking great care in harvesting and manufacturing our products. It’s nice to hear from people who are as into cranberries as much as we are.
All of our products are produced in facilities and equipment that are free of nuts, dairy, and eggs. The production equipment is cleaned and sterilized between each production run. Thus, there is no risk of cross contamination between any of our products. We are currently marketing a selection of Trail Mixes, which contain mixed nuts, dried fruit, and chocolate. Those products are packaged in separate facilities, apart from our standard products."
It was good to know that the trail mix is not made in the same facility as the plain Craisins, aka dried cranberries.
With this in mind, here's one of our favorite family cookie recipes. We recently added Craisins to this and everyone loved it--plus it packs a little more nutrition into the cookie. I know I've offered chocolate chip and oatmeal granola bars recently, so Craisins would be a nice addition to those as well.
The Nut-Free Mom's Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Craisin Cookies
3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour plus 2 tablespoons
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter or margarine, (1 stick) softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup packed brown sugar (I like dark brown)
1 large egg
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned or quick cooking oats, uncooked
3/4 cup chocolate chips (I use Hershey's semi sweet or Vermont Nut-Free)
1/4 cup Ocean Spray Craisins
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In small bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt.
In a large bowl, with mixer set a medium, beat butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla just until combined. Reduce speed to low and gradually stir in flour, just until blended. At low speed mix in oatmeal, chocolate chips and Craisins.
Drop dough by heaping tablespoons (I use a mini ice cream scoop for this), 2 inches apart, on two ungreased large cookie sheets. Bake until golden, about 10 minutes, rotating cookie sheets between upper and lower oven racks halfway through baking. With wide spatula, transfer cookies to wire racks to cool completely.
Repeat with remaining dough. Makes about 24 cookies.