I Just Want Some Ice Cream!
I Just Want Some Ice Cream!
By Jillian Moores
Ah, the summer! It’s starting to get quite hot, the scent of barbequing is in the evening air, and cravings for cold items are beginning to swell in my stomach.
Thus, one sunny evening, I decide it’s time to stock up on some ice cream, or popsicles, or something colourfully cool. I march into Loblaws with purpose and I open the first of about eight freezer doors stocked with ice cream and frozen treats, to find that one item immediately catches my eye: Breyers Extra Creamy Banana Cream Pie ice cream. Now, that’s a winner, no contest! I quickly skim over the ingredients, and everything looks okay so far…oh, but wait. There it is. The infamous disclaimer, “this product may contain traces of peanuts…”
I sigh. Well, probably better off without it anyway. Let’s keep looking, I positively tell myself. I spot Del Monte’s Frozen Fruit Bars. They look delicious, juicy, and little less fatty than my extra creamy friend, Breyer. I flip over the box, again quickly skimming over the ingredients (this time only out of habit, really. I mean come on, it’s a fruit bar!). Oh…DAMN it! There it is again! “This product has been manufactured on the same equipment which uses peanuts.” This one’s a definite no-no.
Feeling a little discouraged, and my craving now reaching the peak of irritability, I frantically start grabbing anything I think I might mildly enjoy, looking only for the bold writing at the base of all ingredients lists which claim its “possibilities”. And there it is….on every box, package, ice cream sandwich and fruit bar. They all claim they might contain peanuts.
In case you’ve missed it so far, I am a peanut allergy sufferer. After going into anaphylactic shock as a baby, my oh-so cautious mother engrained in me that for everything I put in my mouth, I must know what’s in it first. As a child, most products were safe to eat. Even after reading the ingredients listing, there generally were no nuts, and certainly no cautionary advice that the product may contain nuts. However, this has increasingly gone in the opposite direction in recent years.
Now, most cookies, candies, chocolate bars, ice creams, granola bars, even fruit bars, certain tuna cans, (would you believe salad bars), and even bread people, caution me that the product may contain peanuts. Again, let’s think positively: the upside to this is that yes, I have forgone dessert on most occasions throughout my life due to the shear fear that I “may” have a serious reaction. But, now I’m sick of it…and I JUST WANT TO ENJOY AN ICE CREAM!
My question is, what do these warnings truly mean?
Does “…This product may have come in contact or contain traces of peanuts…” really mean:
“…Our company is just covering our butts for the less than 1% chance that this would ever happen”
Or perhaps it means:
“…Our company doesn’t process anything with peanuts but we can’t guarantee that a factory worker didn’t have a peanut butter sandwich for lunch, and therefore, there is the miniscule possibility that they forgot to wash their hands before returning to their shift, and perhaps touched a button which other workers touch and the others workers touched the conveyor belt with our cookies on it and therefore now the cookies might be contaminated with peanuts…”
I want to know what is the real possibility of their being a peanut in what I’m about to eat?
And on another level, what does “this product has been manufactured on the same equipment that uses peanuts…” mean? This one frustrates me, because why doesn’t the company just put in the ingredients listing that the product contains peanuts? Because in all likelihood, it does! I don’t need further fear engrained in me…just put it in the ingredients, plain and simple!
I understand that this is all for the consumer’s well-being and knowledge of what is in their food product. But what I wish for is some accountability here. Is it really so difficult to process foods separately from nuts? Is that too much of a guarantee to ask for? And why did brands that I had eaten all the time as a child, all of a sudden start placing their warnings on food labels? Out of fear of liability or the plain and simple truth that contact with nuts is truly a possibility in their factories?
The peanut allergy sufferer is a defeated soul, my friends. Alas, again, I’ll say it only one more time: I JUST WANT AN ICE CREAM!