About 8 years ago headlines were made when Nestle Canada announced that Kit Kat, Aero, Coffee Crisp and Smarties would all be manufactured in a peanut free facility. For several years before that, these chocolate bars all had the “may contain traces of peanuts” disclaimer. Children and adults with a peanut allergy all over Canada where thrilled that these treats would now be safe as there were really no other chocolate bars on the market without the disclaimer. It was only a few months later after they were already manufacturing in a “peanut free” facility that Nestle reneged on this decision and announced the chocolate bars would soon be manufactured back in a facility where peanuts are used and thus the products would again be unsafe for allergic people. People in the allergy world, including myself started writing emails and letters expressing their wish for them to continue using the peanut free facility. Despite the fact that I am not a huge chocolate lover, I still wrote an email on behalf of the thousands of children out there. I remember the email clearly. I highlighted the fact that many of these children may have difficulty understanding the mixed messages Nestle has given around these products, and I stressed that these children may still pick up a familiar chocolate bar months later despite the fact there is a warning because their parents have already told them it’s safe. While I am well aware that it was not just my email that got their attention, it was shortly after that there was a press release stating these products would remain in the peanut free facility. This made us allergic people very happy, but I think it made the mom’s of allergic kids happier.
I really think that Nestle paved the way for other major companies to make changes and now there are many peanut free choices out there. I don’t pack school lunches yet, but from the feedback I hear from my sister who is obviously very allergy aware, she tells me that she prefers to buy the products with the big symbol on the box indicating it’s peanut free for her kids lunch boxes so she knows it’s 100% safe and that she is following the school policy. Despite having the restrictions of only sending peanut free snacks, my nieces can go at least 2 weeks with a different snack everyday. Peanut free Granola bars, breakfast bars, rice cakes, crackers, cookies and ice cream all live in my house right now. As a mom, it’s great to know that there are so many choices available for the boy when he goes to school. It’s changes like these that make me optimistic that more companies will follow and move forward towards becomming peanut free, because us allergic people really do take a risk every time we put food into our mouth.