Thursday, September 9, 2010

Food Label Frustration

We have only been at this for about 5 months now. I've been feeling pretty confident that any food we give Cormac is safe. We read all labels now and double check ourselves often. We bring his food places just in case. Our friends and family are reading labels too. Over all I felt we were doing a great job.

Well I took things for granted. I thought that companies were required by law to label the top 8 allergens as well as the risk of cross contamination, (ie "shared equipment", "shared facility", "may contain".) WRONG! They are only required by law to label the top 8 allergens (milk, eggs, fish, Crustacean shell fish, tree nuts, wheat, peanuts, and soybeans).

All this time when I read packages without anything referring to the statements above, I thought the food was safe. For all we know it could be, but there is a big chance that's it's not. Maybe we've been lucky so far. I know a few FA mom who are diligent about contacting companies about the risk of cross contamination and share their findings. Most say e-mail works best as you can get it in writing.

In light of this I have been digging to find the exact laws concerning food labels. It's not hard to find, but in true government form it's not all easy to decipher. He are some helpful links I found. I asked some other FA moms for a reference with a simple explanation, and the 1st one listed is what they sent me.

Kids With Food Allergies

I'm feeling pretty defeated this week. My lack of knowledge could have put my son's life at risk. That is not a good feeling. I know I shouldn't beat my self up over this, but I'm a mom and that's what we do when we think we aren't doing are very best. I feel so bad I didn't do all my research. Going forward you can bet that I will be contacting any company I feel is not including cross contamination warnings and becoming even more brand loyal to the ones that do.



  1. I'm the father of a 3 yr old who was diagnosed 5 months ago. Since then, we've contacted countless manufacturers to inquire about cross contamination concerns. Unfortunately, cross-contamination concerns are fluid based on changes in manufacturing. Just because there's no cross contamination concern in the product I inquire about this week does not mean that one won't exist with that same product next week.

    As a result, instead of asking about cross-contamination concerns, we ask manufacturers if they label for potential cross-contamination. If they do not, we don't buy their products since we cannot contact the manufacturer each and every time we buy the product.

    You will probably find this article of interest. It reports on a study that found that products with the "may contain" label are more likely to contain allergens than those containing no wording. This suggests to me that manufacturers who choose to use this labeling do so because they truly believe there's a risk. Not sure we can assume, by extension, that those that don't label see no such risk...

  2. I agree - I try to stick with companies that will label for any risk. Hershey's, General Mills and Betty Crocker are a few that come to mind that are good about labeling. I also do a lot of shopping at Trader Joe's, as they label well also.

  3. I'm 24 and severely allergic to peanuts, all nuts, and sesame seeds. I used to have a milk allergy but I grew out of it. My brother is severely allergic to milk and eggs. I just came across your blog and I think you're doing a wonderful thing, and don't want you to despair if you perceive you have made a mistake or have had a lapse of judgement. I have grown up to realize that my mother was a saint in how careful she was and how much time she put into preparing our food. From what it seems, you too are such a saint. Your son is lucky to have you.

    I think one of the most important things you can do is to make sure that you empower your son to understand his allergy and not to be afraid of it. I read an article about people training dogs to sniff out peanuts and how some children now felt like they could go to school and be a "regular" kid. I was upset by what I thought was bad parenting in debilitating their children. Allergies are a part of me and your son, but they do not define us. Finding the balance between being careful and also making sure your son feels normal will be difficult but it's one of the most important things you can do as his Mom!

    Best of luck!

  4. Wow such wonderful comments and advise!

    John Thanks for the article. I was looking for it as someone in my FA online group brought it up. It the findings really are interesting.

    Melinda, I keep a stash of the Hershey's morsels at all times for those last minute baking emergencies. I've never been to trader Joe's but have friends that go. They have some yummy food. I will have to go.

  5. To the Anonymous comment. Thank you! You brought tears to my eyes and made me feel better. Thanks for sharing. It means so very much. Sounds like your mom is amazing!


I love hearing what you have to say!