question about peanut contamination


I really want to understand this. If a bag of candy says manufactured in a plant that processes peanuts..what are this risks here? That a peanut would get into the bag or that actual peanut dust or particles get into and processed into the candy? And if that were the case, wouldn't that only happen if it was processed on the same equipment, which manufacturers are supposed to label for anyhow,not just state in the same plant. As always, thanks for the info!

On Apr 17, 2003

I think the reason for the "manufactured in a facility that processes peanuts" is as follows.

Peanut allergy is a life threatening condition. If there are peanuts used in the facility, accidents can happen. Or as you suggested, bags of peanuts arriving at the factory could be opened up as they arrive, resulting in peanut dust becoming airborne and possibly contaminating nut-free product.

So my belief in what this warning means is:

[i]This product has been made on nut-free equipment so it is most likely to be safe for nut allergic individuals. However, since we do use nuts in our facility, we can not guarantee 100% that this product is safe.[/i]

This warning allows those of us with strict comfort zones to buy a product made in a nut-free facility to give us additional peace of mind.

For example, if you have a choice of two chocolate bars, and one was made in a nut-free facility and the other was made in a facility that processes nuts, this warning allows us to make the safest choice.

On Apr 17, 2003

I agree completely with Erik and also wanted to add something.

I was on an airplane after they had stopped serving peanuts and were serving pretzels. Someone 1 row ahead of us and on the other side next to the window brought on a bag of peanuts.

When he opened them I, of course, was praying that my son would not be airborne sensitive--he wasn't--thank GOD. However, one little bag of peanuts sent enough peanut dust into the air that you could smell it the entire flight. Could you imagine in a factory setting where they used peanuts, let's say the other end of the factory, when the "giant peanut bin" (for lack of a better word) becomes empty and they load in another big batch of peanuts into this "bin" the dust that would fly into the air. It would, in fact, probably cover the entire factory.

If someone has first hand experience with this, let me know. But, this is how I imagine it would be. In the past, I have visited food plants (yes, actually gone onto the factory floor where the other workers are) where they make chicken nuggets and cheese products--not a pretty site!!

On Apr 17, 2003

Karen -

You said:


Originally posted by KarenD: [b] And if that were the case, wouldn't that only happen if it was processed on the same equipment, which manufacturers are supposed to label for anyhow,[/b]

From your information, I could not tell in you were in Canada or the United States. Here in the States there is no law that says manufacturers have to label for shared equipment. Any labeling to this effect is voluntary.

On Apr 17, 2003

If it helps any my sons school sold Niagara Chocolates and they have the made in a facility warning so I called my rep who called the plant manager. He said that some of the stuff is made on dedicated lines. However, when they open the big containers of peanuts, the dust flies everywhere. He said he personally recommends my child eats nothing of theirs.

On Apr 17, 2003

Just another comment about manufacturing in general as well. I have watched that "Unwrapped" show on the food network. The equipment is so large and the spaces so cavernous where they make things. Cookies and cracker products leave alot of dusty residue all over. I can see it. So, if you *know* for sure that your food is on shared equipment or "in a facility processing peanuts", know that you really do see lots of residues around.

I just wonder how clean they get the place, even with strict cleaning measures. I know I have vacuumed at least twice this week, but had to bake a couple of times the past week and have children snacking in my kitchen regularly. Today, even, I had professional cleaners and they again, vacuumed and mopped, and I came in and there was a crumb along a baseboard, at least(I am sure a few more). Now, I was not doing the "white glove" thing around the house, but these things make me realize how hard it is to really get up all the crumbs and dust, even with *regular and careful cleaning*. Make the place 100 times larger and hundreds of workers responsible, and I seem more room for mistakes.

Now I am scaring myself about some of the products I use that might be fringe(Nabisco or such) who do not totally divulge the sharing or dedication of equipment! I think if laws past in the states requiring cross contact labeling, we would end up having more products. Companies would be forced to perhaps do all their nutty things at one place and other things elsewhere, so as not to lose business or so as not to have the liability of cross contact.

BTW, I agree with Erik's interpretation, and in the states I even assume it means very good likelihood of traces being present. becca

On Apr 17, 2003

I agree. Even when companies make the claim of a nut-free line, if there is anything peanutty going on at a manufacturing facility AT ALL, we have had reactions from cross-contaminated food. (Cocunut milk comes to mind here... and in this case, the company repeatedly assured me that it just wasn't possible because there was a physically separate facility at the same site which dealt in pn-containing spice packets. I personally will now only purchase from companies that label for "in a facility" because for us anything else is playing Russian Roulette.

On Apr 18, 2003

Just wanted to add, even in Canada allergy alerts are voluntary. It is *strongly recommended* by the government but not actually a law which could be enforced. Otherwise ALL companies would put accurate labeling - I mean even the American and UK companies have to have alternate labeling for Canada because our law states it HAS to be bilingual.

On Apr 18, 2003

Thanks guys....I have talked to several companies that have told me by law they have to label for contamination. That is why I assumed it was by law.