Monday, October 26, 2009

Chicago Tribune Food Allergen Investigation: Promising Update

Last year, The Chicago Tribune published a series of stories about hidden allergens in foods. Among them were chocolate bars sold at Whole Foods and at that time, marked as nut-free due to "good manufacturing practices." That wasn't true and the Tribune followed many food suppliers and their labels to find alarming inaccuracies.

Last Friday, the paper published an update of this story. You can read the short blurb by clicking this link. Scroll down until you see the heading Allergens. There is a lot of good news for allergic consumers--many of the foods in question have been removed from the Whole Foods shelves, for example. Others companies have pulled product and promised to label the foods accurately.

I get asked about food labels a lot and the fact is, as I just posted about in my recent ice cream post--food labels are random and not policed in many cases. Some companies really have their act together with regard to food allergies--but so many don't.

My best advice is to steer clear of high risk foods if you have any doubts. The old "when in doubt, do without" rule works when labels don't. High risk foods for nut allergies can include chocolate, candy, many ethnic foods, baked goods and baking ingredients.

Always, always ask the company if you don't know what's in their food. If they seem glib or uncertain, avoid their products. Even if they're convincing, you need to do your homework by being aware of who owns the company, what other products they make and what their understanding of "nut-free" is. To some it means a nut-free facility. To others, it means no nuts in the final product. We need to find out where food companies stand and asking them shows them we care.

Still, it's great to know that the Tribune investigation helped pull unsafe foods for food allergies and intolerances. Newspapers are suffering throughout the country but this proves how much they're needed.

One other piece of good consumer news, courtesy of Jennifer of Food Allergy Buzz. Nut-free candy corn is here! A & J Nut-Free Bakery now sells this online. It's made in the U.S. in a nut-free facility. Finally! Go to for more info.


angie@itsnutfree said...

Hi Nut Free Mom

Thank you for mentioning our site on your blog.

Anything I can do in return, please let me know,

Kind regards

Unknown said...

Hey Jenny, thanks for this info and for the link as well! We just got our candy corn today. My son said "I've been waiting for YEARS for this!" And then shoved a handful in his mouth...

Kim Lutz said...

Hi Jenny,

Thanks so much for the link to the Tribune article. It's so hard when you rely on labels, and then they turn out to be inaccurate! I'm glad that the Trib brought some changes about through their reporting. Thank you for passing it along.

I love your site!
Kim Lutz