Lilla Bee "nut-free" label disclaimer
I had a very annoying food allergy experience today, and I just need to vent somewhere where people will understand. I've been researching nut-free baking mixes that I could buy in a local store (Denver area) without having to order online, and I came across the brand Lillabee. They advertise themselves as "nut free"...it says "nut free" boldly on the label, on their website, etc. So, although I diligently check labels, I purchased a Lillabee baking mix on a grocery run without reading the ingredients.
As I was unpacking my groceries, I gave the box another look. And there it was. Under the ingredient label in small, unbolded print, was a disclaimer:
"Very strict manufacturing processes are followed to maintain the purity of the ingredients in a facility that also processes wheat, dairy, and nuts."
I do appreciate the use of "strict manufacturing processes", and I understand that this is probably still a safe product. However, shared facilities are generally not within my comfort zone, nor are they in many others' comfort zones. I find it highly irresponsible to advertise your products explicitly as "nut-free" when there is still a chance of cross-contamination. I sent the company the following e-mail hoping for clarification. I'll update this post when I have a response.
To whom it may concern:
I recently purchased one of your products based on the "nut-free" guarantee printed boldly on the front label. I suffer from a life-threatening allergy to tree nuts, and while I diligently read labels, I neglected to read your ingredient list until I got home because I was just so excited to have found a nut-free baking mix. Imagine my surprise when a cursory glance at the label informed me that you are NOT in fact a nut-free facility.
I realize everyone has different comfort zones, but eating products that are manufactured in a facility with tree nuts is outside of mine. I would like to know more about your manufacturing processes. For instance, are your tree nuts in a completely segregated part of the facility where your baking mix is manufactured? Are the products all in one big facility but run on separate, dedicated nut-free lines?
I sincerely hope I am misunderstanding your labeling because I think it is extremely irresponsible to advertise yourself as "nut-free" if you are NOT using segregated facilities. If all your claim of being "nut-free" is guaranteeing is that there are no nuts in the ingredients, then you're no different than any other product that doesn't contain nuts but is processed in shared facilities (i.e., Betty Crocker, Dunkin Hines, etc.). Please provide me with clarification on this issue. It is truly a matter of life and death for those who react violently to even the most minute cross-contamination.
Thank you in advance,