Monday, November 12, 2012

Food Allergies and Thanksgiving: Libby's ® Brand Pumpkin and Nestle® Carnation Brand Evaporated Milk

I love to bake my holiday pies with Libby's® brand pumpkin puree.
Read on for the company's nut allergen statement.
Holiday bakers, start your engines! It's pumpkin pie season!  Who's with me? Thanksgiving comes early this year, so I've been gathering seasonal baking ingredients for the annual Turkey Day indulgence.

But wait--what about ingredients? Everyone's favorite pumpkin pie recipe is on the back of the Libby's®  brand pureed pumpkin and it always includes Nestle®  Carnation Evaporated Milk. Since so many of us end up baking our own pumpkin pies for the holidays (including me), it was time for my annual ingredients check-in for these products.

I wanted to share my findings with all of you so we can get on to the fun part: baking pies. Both of these popular seasonal products are made by Nestle; I e-mailed the company last week and got a detailed e-mail response. Here's what Nestle had to say about Libby's Pumpkin and Carnation Evaporated Milk with regard to tree nuts and peanuts (and general food allergen labeling):

Dear Ms. Kales,
Thank you for contacting Libby's® Pumpkin.

Our Nestlé® Carnation Evaporated Milk and Libby's® Pumpkin products do not contain peanuts or tree nuts nor are they at potential for cross contact.

Labeling regulations require that if any of the eight recognized known allergens, such as peanuts and tree nuts, are in the product, they must be listed in the ingredient statement. We always list the allergen by the common name.

Additionally, our factories, that use any of the recognized allergens as an ingredient, take all precautions to avoid cross contact of products that do not contain them. We always add a cautionary statement at the end of our packaging ingredient listing if a product is made on the same line or factory of those products containing a recognized allergen. It is recommended that you always check the label before purchasing a product.

Holiday bakers: Please make a note of the last line of the e-mail above because it is an important one: always check the label before purchasing a product.

For example, while the canned items I contacted Nestle about do not contain nut allergens (see full statement from the company, above), Libby's and Nestle's baking kits that include the pumpkin puree and canned milk, respectively, have nut allergen and other food allergen warnings on the label.

While the canned items are safe and we can use them to make a pie or cake from scratch, it looks like the culprits in these baking kits are the pumpkin bread mix and the pie crust mix, respectively. Avoid the baking kits when baking for people with nut allergies. Note: these kits are extremely well marked for allergens. If you read the label, you'll see the warnings underneath the ingredients list.

This is what the Libby's® Pumpkin Bread Kit looks like. The label on this kit has warnings for nut and other food allergens:

Check each label--even if certain ingredients in a baking kit
might be OK, other components might carry nut allergy warnings.

Click the link for a nut-free pumpkin bread recipe from my blog that uses Libby's brand pumpkin--almost as easy as a kit, and best of all -- no nut allergens to worry about!

The prevalence of allergy warnings on prepared baking kits only reinforces that holiday baking needs to be carefully monitored for anyone with a severe allergy. That's why I volunteer to do so much baking--I know what's in my kitchen and what goes into our food, so we can enjoy our desserts without any concern for cross-contact or allergenic hidden ingredients.

Note: the allergen information given in this post is for these specific brands, only, and refers to peanut and tree nut allergies.  If you have questions about Libby's, Carnation or any other store brands, with regard to their practices or for other allergens, please contact companies directly. It is always up to the consumer to decide if a specific product fits your allergy needs. Thank you!


Alison said...

Thank you for the timely information! I just bought both products tonight with intent of calling tomorrow. Called earlier about Marie Callender's pie crust, and according to the recording on allergens, it is tree nut free also!

Trisha said...

Thanks for the recipe. I had bought the pumpkin bread kit to make for a school party. There is one child with severe allergies. When checking the label, I was surprised to see the allergy warning. I'll be using your nut free recipe, and washing down my entire kitchen and utensils before baking. Thanks for the info, it was all very helpful.

Jenny said...

Trisha, you sound like a doll to want to accommodate kids with severe allergies. However, for a child with severe allergies, no food produced from a kitchen regularly using peanut butter or other nut products is safe for them. My daughter was never permitted to eat treats not from our own kitchen. You have great intentions, but I just want to caution you for the safety of the child and your own peace of mind, reconsider offering this as a "nut-free" item. This post describes nut-free baking in more detail: Thanks for caring and Happy Holidays!