Sunday, November 23, 2008

Whole Foods Gets Exposed in Tribune Special Report

Here is Part 2 of the Chicago Tribune ongoing special food allergy investigation. Turns out that Whole Foods isn't so wholesome when it comes to their food labels.
The photos above is of chocolate chunks I purchased at Whole Foods about a month ago. The package states that "good manufacturing practices are used to segregate ingredients in a facility that also processes milk ingredients."
Turns out that was not the case--the opposite was true. Plus, several of the store brand 365 Organic chips have also tested positive for hidden, undeclared nut allergens. I almost served these to my daughter after being thrilled to find "safe" chocolate chunks at Whole Foods. Their approach is totally unacceptable--and potentially dangerous.
Click this link to read the whole story.

I would advise all of us to skip the supermarket chips and order from Vermont Nut Free until labeling practices are reigned in. Those of you who need to use dairy-free chips, what are your current sources for those? I'd like to share that here. Let me know!


Elaine at Matters of the Heart) said...

Oh wow, thanks for bringing this out. I am in love with Vermont Nut Free. I enjoyed our order from them so much.

As far as the nutmeg, we were tested, and he has a level 2 allergy to it. I was under the same understanding as you, nutmeg was safe for nut allergies. However for us, since we actually had the positive test at level two, we have to stay away from it. We also had a positive test for lemons at a level one. We will be having more testing in December to check all the fruit and seeds. We definately are having some sort of reaction right now. His face and bottom are real rashy, and we are having some GI issues. I am going to try to move our appointment up.. I am really hoping he is not becoming more intolerant to wheat. Originally he tested at a level one allergy, and they told us that we did not need to eliminate it. I think it is the wheat or oranges that are causing are symptoms right now... I will keep you updated.

Thank you for all the reasearch and posting you do. I sure appreciate it.

Have a good rest of the weekend.


Karen said...

Enjoy Life Chocolate chips made with out gluten, milk, eggs or nuts.

Nonuttin chocolate chips made without milk egg or nuts.

Unknown said...

Dairy free choc. chip suggestions: Amanda's Own has chocolate chips that are dairy free and nut free:
and there's always Enjoy Life brand!

Jenny, you probably remember my Whole Foods cake slice labeling saga. That whole episode shook my faith in the retailer that markets itself as a destination for those with special diets. I had forgotten Whole Foods is a company trying to make money too! This is why I get on my soapbox every month or so about having standards for these "allergen-free" food claims. We need standards and we need enforcement of those standards. I really think we food allergy families need to start demanding it. We should put the heat on like those Motrin moms did! :)

Jenny said...

Thanks for your input, ladies!

Elaine, I sure hope you get some answers at your next visit. Thanks for keeping us posted.

Jennifer B, I sure do remember the Whole Foods cake label debacle you outlined so well on your blog. That was terrible. When you read a label assuring you that a food is safe for a particular allergen, it's really rotten for that to be a lie.

I know some of you have written to Whole Foods already but for those of us that haven't, now's the time!

Lynae said...

I've been reading your blog for a few weeks now. Thanks so much - it's a great resource. This labeling is such a difficult issue that I find I have to make most of my son's (tree nut allergy) food from scratch - including bread, crackers, cookies and ice cream. It's a good thing that I really like to bake. I'm hoping that getting him involved will teach him to do the same as he gets older so that he doesn't take unnecessary risks by eating a lot of processed food.

Anonymous said...

I called Vermont Nut Free to inquire whether their dark chocolate gelt (coins for Hanukkah) is safe for children with milk allergies. They told me that their milk chocolate and dark chocolate shared the same refrigerator -- so they couldn't promise it was safe for the milk allergic. Not sure whether that's true for chocolate chips or not -- but I'm reluctant to order from Vermont Nut Free. We're sticking with Enjoy Life. (We've never had trouble with the Whole Foods Vegan chocolate chips -- but I recognize that's sheer luck on our part.)

Jenny said...

Thanks to Karen and kidsfoodallergies blog for your input on dairy-free chocolate chips.

I'm only looking at peanut-and tree-nut free when I buy chocolate, but I know it's a little more challenging if you need to go nut-free and dairy free. I'm a big Vermont Nut Free fan but you're right--their products sometimes contain the other "top 8" food allergens. I've heard a lot of good things about Enjoy Life Foods so I'm glad they're a good resource for so many of our dairy-allergic friends.

I always love to hear about allergy-friendly companies and products, Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Thanks Jenny, how disappointing to read about the Whole Food story. We do not have one near us but love going there when we are in the cities. You would think stores like them would do more about labeling and more allergy aware.
We will keep trying, keep looking until there is a cure.

Poker Chick said...

we like Enjoy Life chocolate daughter is not allergic to dairy but is allergic to eggs, nuts, peanuts and SESAME. Enjoy life specifically promises to be free of all of these.

Incidentally, my MIL bought these chocolate chips last year and I got berated for not wanting to use them. I told her at the time whole foods makes a lot of nut and seed products as a "health food" place and I was worried about cross-contamination. Guess my intuition wasn't so neurotic after all!