food labels

Posted on: Fri, 07/27/2007 - 7:19am
mom2boys1975's picture
Joined: 07/19/2007 - 09:00

I have spent much of the last few days contacting companies about their ingredient lists on their packages.

I am luckily only dealing with one allergy and not multiple allergies like many of you are.

What is being reported back to me from most companies is that if their food contains or is in danger of contamination by peanuts they report it on their labels.

This seems to contradict what I have read on here the last few weeks.

So far my "trust the label list" contains Hershey, Nestle, Kellog, Post, oscar meyer, Kraft and breakstones I know some of these are names of foods under the same companies.

How do you know? I'm afraid of trusting manufacturers and regretting it, or not knowing what exactly caused the reaction if he has one in the future.

How do you know which labels you can trust???

Posted on: Fri, 07/27/2007 - 7:46am
chanda4's picture
Joined: 12/14/2006 - 09:00

It's all based on *your* comfort zone.....I don't call, personally(I did make my first call yesterday though!!), I go by what is on the label and base my decision from there(maybe not the right decision for everyone, but this is *my* confort zone). You will get lots of different answers here, based on different comfort levels. I did recently call on one company, General Mills(regular Cookie Crisp cereal)but for 3 nights(about 30min after our nightly bowl of cereal) my 6yr old would complain his neck felt tight. I'd give him Benadryl and it would go I did finally call. They said there was no chance the regular Cookie Crisp comes in contact(or even made in the same facility as the pb flavor) the cs rep stated they keep the facility themselves seperate if they process nuts). So in the back of my I believe them??? Honestly, I can't see the factory, can't see the box of cereal being boxed/produced....but I do have to decide my confort zone. I cut the ingredient list off and will ask the Allergist next Tues(for our yearly appt). Maybe something new has cropped up. He's eaten this cereal for years, off and on. So who knows. But based on their label(they did say they would label *made in a facility* if in deed it was, and this box said nothing....and of course I would never buy it, I myself don't buy *made in a facilty* or *may contains*) but the reaction was not caused by a nut or peanut butter, so they reassured who knows. He is not eating it anymore though [img][/img]
Sorry I rambled so much, good luck
edit, many on here do trust GM, and I will continue to buy their other flavors of cereal, just not the cookie crisp for now.
[This message has been edited by chanda4 (edited July 27, 2007).]

Posted on: Fri, 07/27/2007 - 7:49am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

My DS is 14, diagnosed at age 1. I have called (1) manufacturer in 13 years. We may be in the minority on this site. Remember there are different comfort zones. You will find your comfort zone and what works for you.
What works for us - we trust the labels. I do not purchase "may contain". On some items I do allow "manufactured in a facility".
In 13 years, all of his validated reactions have been from an obvious source. He had mystery hives once (earlier this year). We never figured out what caused it - however, we do not feel it was peanut as he had no facial swelling and ALL reactions have included facial swelling).
Anyway, all that to say we rely strictly on labels and as long as that keeps us reaction free, that is how we will continue. We eat at restaurants regularly and he eats school lunches every day.
As far as this site, I may be on the "lax" side. However, I do not feel like we are at all "lax" about his allergy. Ever vigilant. Always (3 times) read labels. Always (each time we go) mention the allergy at a restaurant. Always wear "pen & ben". Always advise school administration, teachers, lunch room workers of the allergy and action plan.
Good luck!
Have a blessed day,

Posted on: Fri, 07/27/2007 - 8:18am
Sarahb's picture
Joined: 01/22/2007 - 09:00

I have a tighter comfort zone than the two posters above and probably looser than others.
I think the important questions to ask are:
1) Is this product produced in a facility that also processes peanuts. (it's a yes or no question) The shorter the answer the better. I want a YES or a NO.
2) Is this product produced on shared lines with any products containing peanuts or treenuts?
FOR ME - If it is not on the label I assume it is cross contaminated until I call. I have read studies that show as little as 7% of products produced in a facility with peanuts contain peanut protien - up to 12.5% and 18.5% for shared lines. That's just not worth the risk for me.
I only trust labels that reveal things like..."this product was produced in a facility that also processes soy, fish, etc." - IF they list that and don't list peanut I will feel comfortable not calling. I am ok with products produced in a facility that produces tree nuts. Many people are not. For me...for now I am.
I am also not interested in giving the manufacturer information about who has the allergy, how old they are, etc.
I don't trust Kellog or Kraft at this time. I do trust Hershey, Keebler, and General Mills. I don't have my full list here - I am sure that there are others.
I think about...what products does this company they share facilities with other manufacturers or are they big enough to have a plant devoted to making Mayonaise for instance.
Risky foods to me (that may seem safe) are cereal, cookies, ice cream, dried fruit, crackers and really all baked goods.
I think you are getting the "trust us" answer and for me that just wasn't good enough. But who knows....??? We all just do our best.

Posted on: Fri, 07/27/2007 - 8:25am
mom2boys1975's picture
Joined: 07/19/2007 - 09:00

For now I'm on the less comfortable side, period. The allergist we saw didn't tell us much of anything except that peanuts could kill our son. We are in the process of finding a new one. I think, no I know, that is a HUGE source of my anxiety.
I like to see what others do, from one extreme to the other, find out why, and then generate what works for us.
Thanks for the replies so far! Keep em coming!

Posted on: Fri, 07/27/2007 - 8:38am
mom2boys1975's picture
Joined: 07/19/2007 - 09:00

Sarahb- Why don't you trust Kellog or Kraft? I have them on my "okay to trust the label" list. Not arguing, just wondering in case I feel I should change it.
I have been doing what you mentioned also, if they mention other allergens but not peanuts I trust them.

Posted on: Fri, 07/27/2007 - 9:14am
2BusyBoys's picture
Joined: 09/03/2004 - 09:00

Quote:Originally posted by mom2boys1975:
What is being reported back to me from most companies is that if their food contains or is in danger of contamination by peanuts they report it on their labels.
Keep in mind that "may contain" or "processed in/on" labels are voluntary.

Posted on: Fri, 07/27/2007 - 9:26am
Sarahb's picture
Joined: 01/22/2007 - 09:00

hmmm....I think Kraft just gave me the run around answer and would not give me a specific yes or no....just the "we are careful and do allergen washes" etc.
Kellog...I think from what I have read here...but honestly he was eating Cascade Valley Purely O's - an organic oat based Cheerio type cereal...and I had never given him any Kellog brands anyway.....and now (for a short while - please please!) we are gluten, soy, and dairy free none of the cereals work for me anyway. But I can just see shared lines with so many different cereals...they have the same boxes, mostly dry ingredients....dusty...I don't think I have called on any Kellog product though.

Posted on: Fri, 07/27/2007 - 10:10am
mom2boys1975's picture
Joined: 07/19/2007 - 09:00

(edited)-LOL Thanks. I've been having to remind myself to do that a lot in the 4 weeks since his reaction, especially the last 2 since the actual diagnosis. I know you all understand the panic and fear and possibilities that go through your head. The last day or two I've made myself focus less on the possibilities and more on what I can do here and now.
Wow I can't believe that is the standard for allergists. We got the epi pens from the ER the doc didn't even offer a script for more! I'm still working on finding a more likeable one though!

Posted on: Fri, 07/27/2007 - 12:07pm
lakeswimr's picture
Joined: 02/01/2007 - 09:00

Interestingly, Anaphylaxis Canada recommends calling companies at least once and every few months afterwards to check on shared equip/facility and how allergy aware they are and what steps they take to prevent X-contam.
I think this is a good idea, too. I spoke with someone at FAAN recently about this and asked why FAAn doesn't recommend calling companies and the person actually said she thinks it is a good idea because the labeling laws do not cover cross-contamination. Relying on labels may give one a false sense of security. I have to call all companies because DS's allergies include sesame which is *not* covered by labeling laws and to which he had several serious X-contam reactions. What I have learned from my calls is that the label only tells you so much. Some companies label for X-contam, some only do so for *some* products (especially true for store brands that have several manufacturers making their product.) This can cause a lot of wrong assumptons. For example, if one saw a store brand that said, "may contain peanuts" or "made in a shared facility with peanuts" on one product (say a type of cookies) but didn't see any allergy warning on the same store brand's corn chips one might assume that means the corn chips are made in a facility that doesn't have peanuts but that may or may not be the case. Looking at the label alone does *not* tell you that! The chips are probably made by a totally different manufacturer and they can have totally different labeling policy than the cookie makers.
I have even been told by big companies that even with very common products that are sold nationally such as cake mixes, etc, read the label each time because the same cake mix may have different ingredients when produced at their several manufacturing sites. some sites use dairy, some don't, some have nuts on shared equip, some don't.
Also, the form of an allergen matters. I hear people compare shared facility to their home if they use allergens at home for non-allergic family members. I don't think this comparisson is totally accurate in the case of allergens that are in the *powdered* form. think of opening a bag of flower--it gets in the air. Many companies use dairy, nuts, peanuts and even eggs in powdered form. These things can more easily cause cross contamination in products that don't contain these things than if they were in other forms and only same facility. My son reacted to a tiny amount of cocoa powder made in a "giant facility" where powdered nuts are "way on the other side of this giant facility." The CSR was *shocked* my son would react to X-contam from that but he did. We didn't realize it was the cocoa powder for a while and he reacted to it the same way repeatedly.
If anyone has a non-top 8 allergen I would make a policy to call companies. YMMV, of course. For those even with top 8 allergens I can say that in many cases the label alone will be enough *but* in some cases it won't! Many children who ate Veggie Booty and Tings had parents report the children got hives at Kids With Food Allergies. This company told me they had good cleaning practices but shared lines with dairy. My son got big, blotchy hives several times from their product before I figured out what caused the reaction.
There was a well-known tragic case of a college student who died from eating cookies that were cross-contaminated. He had eaten these same cookies all his life just fine in the large and vending machine sizes. Then one night he ate them and had a reaction and died. he did everything right--read labels, was careful but the cookies had x-contam. His mother sued and *lost* because a jury ruled he was responsible for his own death, not the company! this was pre-labeling law, however, the new law doesn't cover x-contam.
I think it is taking a big risk to just go by labels. I understand comfort zone. I think that comes from having a child who has not reacted to x-contam. Once one does you realize it could happen again, it could be worse next time, etc. Calling takes a lot of time at first but then you find new products this way, and then you rarely have to call.

Posted on: Fri, 07/27/2007 - 12:38pm
Sarahb's picture
Joined: 01/22/2007 - 09:00

ER doc told us..."it's probably not peanuts"
next day pediatrician "it's peanuts" - she gave a scrip for an epi pen and said stay away from peanuts....
Our allergist was very clear after the skin shared lines, no same facility, eating out is high risk. She didn't tell us how to manage it...but she was clear in that the manufacturing processes are so comingled that xcontam is real and deadly. She wasn't iffy about it at all.

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