Sam\'s Club and taste testing - BEWARE

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Let me start by saying that my 4 year old son is Peanut/tree nut allergic. WELL, the last two times we have been to Sam's Club, they have been taste testing items. The first time, it was peanut butter cookies. We immediately left the area, told the store manager about air borne allergic reactions from peanut ( I am trying hard to make this short). Sure enough, 4 hours later, during dinner (of things he for sure was not allergic to) he got a bad rash.

Fast forward to this past weekend. They were sampling pop corn, so I went and got some (after checking the package). Told the guy what I was checking for and the lady across the hall was sampling something else. She says "don't come over here, we are sampling peanut products". Found the manager again (a different one). Assistant manager immediately went over (after my talk with them about the dangers of this testing) and removed the display. The manager told me he would contact someone in their headquarters about their policy. Last night I get a phone call from the store manager. Their person at headquarters who is head of sampling (yes, I have her name!) says they have no policy against sampling peanut products, even if it is air borne.

Now, is it just me or is this just REALLY dangerous?!?! What if the person ahead of me ate one of these peanut butter cookies, and then pushed their cart that I sat my son in? Or just walking through the snack area. Did we not ban smoking in public places because the air is dangerous for other people?! I am really angry about this and don't plan on dropping it. Just wondering, is this kind of stuff covered under people with a hidden disability in the ADA? Please let me know your thoughts! As I told the store manager, I can control what goes into his mouth but I can't control the air, other than not shopping there!

On Aug 23, 2006

I think there is a very real danger in some of these situations of people spreading the oily residue from peanuts around on their carts. Also on the food containers. You could take home a contaminated gallon of milk or box of safe cereal and never know it. The stores just aren't thinking. I bet that if you do just like you did and speak to the store manager and politely explain the risk, they will stop the samples. Perhaps not the first time, but the second or third, especially if they hear from more than one person. Good for you for going to the manager! I'm more likely to just walk out and never go back, and I'm not going to make many changes that way.

Edited to add: Maybe we should do a poll of how many people have come across peanut products being sampled in stores and start a mail campaign to all the stores who do it.

Lori

[This message has been edited by Munchkin's Mom (edited August 23, 2006).]

On Aug 23, 2006

This is why I wipe off handles with a rag before I push a cart. I have contact reactions to far more than just peanuts. Plus, I have to wipe off the handles because so many people use wet wipes or hand sanitizer to do the same thing, and most of those contain aloe, which will give me a reaction faster than anything.

In other words, I am responsible for *myself*.

Why don't you go to Sam's when they're not sampling? They tend to not sample too much between lunch and dinner, in my experience. Or, if you don't consider it safe, take your business elsewhere.

ygg

On Aug 23, 2006

I have run into similar issues in my local Kroger. They were sampling cookies that contained peanuts and had a warning label for all nuts. The worst part was that the sampling was over, and they had started removing the display, but the cookies were opened sitting low enough for a child to pick up.

I went to a manager and explained the situation. My dd wasn't even with me. I just wanted them to be aware that it could be a problem for people, especially if small kids are walking with their parents and just grab something.

The manager was very understanding and was going to take care of it. I always make sure to compliment stores when I seem them doing something positive regarding food allergies as well (like labeling products for allergens).

Going to the store when they aren't doing the samples won't change the fact that residue could be all over the place, but I believe that's the case anyway. People eat food then go shopping, open foods while they are shopping, let their kids snack while they are sitting in the cart, etc.

However, with all of these other risks already in place, it would be nice if stores wouldn't add to it by offering everyone peanut products that walks past their stand.

Shannon

On Aug 23, 2006

Quote:

Originally posted by krasota: [b]

In other words, I am responsible for *myself*.

[/b]

My personal slogan?

[b]"Choose your battles wisely." [/b]

To me, this is like restaurants. Are they really going to stop serving *everything* people are allergic to?

And ya. wipe those shopping carts off. Just bought my daughter a "floppy seat". Still gonna wipe off the handles (and probably the seat). She's not even allergic, that we know of.

Shopping carts. Gross, gross, [i]gross[/i]. Disgusting things, I mean. Evil, harbingers of pestilence.

As far as shopping with children. You'll know I'm comming. Constantly calling them in. Getting a handle on them. Snapping.

What can I say??? The store is a cool place. And a scary one. Not just food allergies. No, no no.... that's last on my list of reasons I keep a close watch.

A few years back, my youngest son managed to get a concussion when an item fell off a shelf and smacked him squarely on the tip of his nose.

Imagine that. I was standing right there. Less than ten minutes later, he's barfing all over. [i]All over[/i]. At various times in my parenting, I've arranged to shop without my children. They're older now, and it's still a busy trip when they come (and quite a bit more money [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/tongue.gif[/img]), but I really don't find "samples" to be a big concern anymore. They don't bother with them. Maybe it's just me. Maybe they just think they are gross. But No advice. Just personally.

What really grosses me out is checkers and baggers with flu and colds. Oh, save me. They seem to especially paw my groceries at that time.

General Disclaimer: I am not offering advice in any manner or form. Just explaining what really freaks me out.

On Aug 23, 2006

What MB said.

And I just plain leave my DD at home most of the time. I only take her during off hours and NEVER during flu outbreaks as she has no protection.

Wish everyone could only bring ONE child at a time into the store, too. Like carry-on bags. And if they are out of spec, they can't come back.... [i]ahhhhh yes indeed-- there WILL be changes when I am finally made emperor of the universe.[/i] [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/biggrin.gif[/img]

[i]Wash-wash-WASH-your hands, whenever you've been OUT... this is the way we keep ourselves well... [/i]

On Aug 23, 2006

Previous to getting pregnant with DS#2, I had looked into becoming a "Food Sample Lady". Most of these positions are not employed by the store but by an independent company. This independent company is in turn employed by the manufacturer. In many cases the stores don't even know that food samplers will even be coming that day, let alone the product they will be selling. So by boycotting the store, you are only hurting your shopping experience.

I wish there was some way we could convince the manufacturers how dangerous sampling peanut products and sharing lines can be...but unfortunately I wake up from that happy dream on daily basis and face the reality that my son's world is shrinking food wise.

On a happy note, my Publix now showcases a "Meals in a Hurry" program. They cook meals on one of the endcaps. I nearly had a heart attack when I saw the lady cooking with nuts! Thankfully Aiden was at home. I spoke with the manager and she understood my concern - she or the chef of the day call me when they are using nuts and let me know. Since she lets me know during prep time (they usually cook from 5-7pm), I have the option of dashing in before they start cooking or leaving my son with Grandma if I have to go to the store. Thankfully in the last three months I have only received 2 or 3 calls.

------------------ Mommy to Aiden (1/26/05) PA,wheat,barley,soy,egg and others yet to be discovered and Connor (7/21/06) with possible egg allergy

On Aug 23, 2006

I am so shocked that there are people out there that think that staying home is a fix for this problem. There are so many situations that our children can't be "normal" that it seems that going to Sam's shouldn't have to be added to the list. Would we suggest to a physically handicapped person to stay home if there were no ramps to get into the store?! OF COURSE NOT!! It is NOT unreasonable to expect stores to help create a safe environment. No one in my family has a seafood allergy but I don't have a huge need to sample seafood products if it makes it unsafe for other people. Stores do not have to add fuel to the fire that is already out there actually SERVING food during our shopping experience. Not to mention as someone above did that it is now all over every package I unknowingly bring into my peanut free home.

I like the letter writing campaign. We can all start with Sam's!! I will keep anyone interested in the progress of this, I am not going to just roll over.

On Aug 23, 2006

Just to respond to the poster who said that it is just the manufacturer, this very well may be the case a lot of places but the Sam's people told me that they send the list of samples from headquarters and the sample people work for Sam's. They are in complete control over what is sampled at Sam;s club.

On Aug 23, 2006

Our local Costco hands out nut-filled candies, mixed nuts, and (often) peanut butter smeared on crackers as samples. I stood and watched the peanut butter sample table once, and was shocked by how many people got it on their fingers, licked it off (ick!), and then wrapped their hands around the cart handles to keep shopping.

I don't take DS to Costco often ...

On Aug 23, 2006

Just some things to think about as you embark on your campaign.

-- What would you [i]like[/i] to see happen as a result? (No peanuts in samples? No food allergens in samples? No food samples at all?)

-- If it is only PN you are concerned about, why? (There are children--and adults-- with other FA, some of them just as sensitive to milk, egg, or shellfish.)

-- If it is all food sampling (which, personally, I would [i]rejoice[/i] to see happen) how are you going to convince these club warehouse places that this is reasonable? Many people with memberships LOOOOVE that aspect of shopping in those places. Probably the vast majority would complain about it stopping, and I'll bet more than a few would vote with their feet.

You DO have choices about where to shop. I have physically challenged friends who have definite preferences regarding shopping, and many of their choices are informed by accessibility issues, same as ours. What I am trying to point out here is that "accessible" isn't always pleasantly or easily so.

We won't join CostCo for the same reasons you are finding Sam's to be distressing. But hey-- we also try to avoid stores that have those stupid bulk PB dispensers. They certainly aren't getting rid of them for [i]me[/i], but I'm not going near them, either.

PS... from your first post, while anything is certainly [i]possible[/i], I have to comment that a four hour delay doesn't seem to tally with a rxn to aerosol exposure.

On Aug 23, 2006

Thanks for all the ideas to think about. I appreciate any advice. To address some of the things you mentioned:

1. I think all sampling of products with actual peanuts in them should be stopped. I'm not talking may contain, just the actual nuts. I would add to that any other known air borne allergens as well.

2. No, I am not nearly as selfish as saying only peanuts as that is what my son is allergic to. He is also off the chart allergic to hazelnuts and almonds but that is not something that he breathes in. I can wipe the cart and deal with that easily enough.

3. Lots of stores manage to survive with out sampling. And I am not suggesting that they discontinue all sampling, just things airborne that could cause someone to stop breathing!

As far as my son having a reaction 4 hours later, with all due respect, this is a typical reaction for him. This is not the first or last time he has had a reaction hours after exposure. Although I'm sure you had the best of intentions, that is a frustrating comment that I would expect from someone NOT dealing with an allergy such as this, which of course you are not! Everyone has different reactions, that is usually his....

On Aug 23, 2006

Quote:

As far as my son having a reaction 4 hours later, with all due respect, this is a typical reaction for him. This is not the first or last time he has had a reaction hours after exposure. Although I'm sure you had the best of intentions, that is a frustrating comment that I would expect from someone NOT dealing with an allergy such as this, which of course you are not! Everyone has different reactions, that is usually his....

Sorry you took it that way. I'm certainly not questioning that you saw a reaction and that it was from PN. I think most of the time our instincts as parents are correct. What I mean by that (speaking as someone who has lived with a highly aerosol reactive child) is that what you've described [i]really[/i] doesn't sound like an [i]aerosol[/i] reaction. They typically are immediate and involve airways and exposed skin. (I'm also basing this on the experiences of dozens of other people who post here.) If anything, aerosol reactions tend to be the most uniform in terms of symptoms-- but they are frequently nothing at all like other reactions. Does your child have a history of aerosol sensitivity? What does your allergist think of the pattern you've observed w/r to aerosol reactions?

My comment about the reaction was just an observation based on experience. (shrug)

On Aug 23, 2006

I didn't mean to jump on you either ! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img] It very well could have been from sitting, unknowingly, in a cart that had been smeared with peanuts from the child before hand sampling the cookies. He does react to air borne peanuts, he usually throws up if he smells them. this time he got a bad rash right on the back of his legs (both legs, all the way from his knee to his ankle). Who knows....but that is my point. had the store not been serving the peanuts I wouldn't have had to worry about it.

No harm done, no offense taken on this end. I appreciate all the things to think about! Thanks!

On Aug 23, 2006

People with pacemakers at least get a sign, "microwave in use" How about a warning for nut allergic persons that nut sampling is on the premises?? I was just at Costco last week, and right before the checkout lanes, they were sampling cashews (DS allergic to pistachios/cashews) Thankfully, I had him in the cart. I witnessed everyone around us munching on cashews with their greasy hands as we waited to check out. I can't think of any other situation I might be in where we would be surrounded by so many people eating cashews?? Don't the stats indicate PN/TN to elicit the worst rxns?? And with the other top 8, perhaps people might be using utensils. With nutty cereals and candies, at least there's a dilution factor there and/or coating to prevent the oils from getting everywhere?? Needless to say, I did write a letter to the corporate office outlining my concerns. I would be pleased with the very least, a warning sign. There's no harm in letting the stores know; just educating them of this allergy.

On Aug 23, 2006

Thanks for understanding.

(sigh) I hate those. Hives that show a "pattern?" Patches of eczema the exact size and shape of familiar objects... Always good for knowing what was contaminated, though, huh? DD has had bright red impressions on her forearms and even a cheek once from a shopping cart. Ugh. We're lucky that they show up right away most of the time, but if we aren't quick enough they often begin to radiate hives.

I really wish all grocery stores would just realize that we [i]don't need any incentive to buy food when we're already [b]there[/b]... HEL-LO. We're in a freakin grocery store.[/i]

"Hmmm... Now why am I here again? (looking around) I forget." LOL! I think they ought to abolish it entirely.

What an uphill battle at a warehouse place. I know people who advocate taking the family there as a "light lunch" that pinches pennies. [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/rolleyes.gif[/img]

My other pet peeve is the "grazers." I hate people who snack away or worse yet feed their kids while they shop. The only thing worse are the people who insist on bringing their nasty tiny little dogs into the grocery store with them. (Aachoo. And yuck-- don't touch my produce.)

(We've done the letter-writing campaign against a local farm supply store that used to do a "peanut" promo. Told them that they were effectively removing all access for us and that at the very least they ought to place warning signs. We got lucky and saw the flyer in the newspaper, but it was a place we shopped ordinarily, and we have not been back in 8 months.)

On Aug 23, 2006

Quote:

Originally posted by bhoffman: [b]I am so shocked that there are people out there that think that staying home is a fix for this problem. There are so many situations that our children can't be "normal" that it seems that going to Sam's shouldn't have to be added to the list. Would we suggest to a physically handicapped person to stay home if there were no ramps to get into the store?! OF COURSE NOT!! It is NOT unreasonable to expect stores to help create a safe environment. No one in my family has a seafood allergy but I don't have a huge need to sample seafood products if it makes it unsafe for other people. Stores do not have to add fuel to the fire that is already out there actually SERVING food during our shopping experience. Not to mention as someone above did that it is now all over every package I unknowingly bring into my peanut free home.

I like the letter writing campaign. We can all start with Sam's!! I will keep anyone interested in the progress of this, I am not going to just roll over.[/b]

my second personal slogan:

[b]"Don't burn bridges. One day you might have to cross them."[/b]

On Aug 23, 2006

MommaBear - Not sure what you are trying to tell me, I'm not gettin' it. I'm not sure whether you're insulting me saying I am being a nut (no pun intended) or what....maybe you should not speak to me in "code". Either too tired from kids or something....I'm just not getting it....

On Aug 23, 2006

I understand your frustration, but I have to agree with Mommabear's "codes". You know, I, personally, just have to pick my battles and teach my PA girls to do the same.

Now, to my knowledge so far, my dd's are not airborne reactive, only touch. I think if they were I would do what I would hope they would later do (as adults) to protect themselves. I would ask for a schedule as to when samples are given. This way, if I would like to shop there, I could avoid going at that time.

Good luck on your campaign.

Rachel

On Aug 23, 2006

I personally think that for numerous health reasons there should be no sampling at all. We do shop at Costco, and I see so many people licking their fingers after they've eaten a sample. I used to work as a bank teller and had a co-worker that would lick her fingers when counting money...for me it's the same sort of UGHHH thing. However, I do understand that many people truly enjoy the sampling. Perhaps there could be a "sample alley" set up when people enter the store, where they can go to try whatever they like, and there is a big poster that says to please use hand sanitizer before leaving the area. Just a thought.

For what it's worth, I am not necessarily after getting stores to completely stop giving out samples. I just want to make certain that they understand that there are health risks involved. Does that make any sense? It's all about educating.

Lori

On Aug 23, 2006

I tend to agree with MammaBear here as well. As far as picking your battles......I just dont think its right to "expect" a store to stop sampling items. I do think its ok to bring it to their attention and try to educate them, and I thank you for that. I just think there are so many ways around this that its easier to avoid the sample's rather than fight it...Not a battle for me.

On Aug 23, 2006

Phew this is a tough one for me. My son is NOT touch or inhilation sensitive, so I can only IMAGINE how the level of anxiety for a parent increases with such dramatic reactions. Hard to protect your child from that which you can not see.

I think Ideally it would be great if Peanuts were not served in these big warehouses, but inevitably someone will come in with an anaphylactic egg or apple or green bean or shrimp allergy and need the same consideration.

I think the stores are worried about where to draw the line. Fortunate (odd word) for us, PA allergy has more awareness than most deadly allergies, so many are more aware.

I think if my child was touch and inhilation I would avoid the grocery stores with him/her if I could. I am probably a moderate in my cautiousness, but I think considering the severity of your child's reaction, that is probably where I would lean towards.

I also think GOOD FOR YOU for educating the managers!

On Aug 23, 2006

The reason *I* am against sampling in grocery stores (of highly allergenic foods) is that (while there is a slight risk of airborne exposure for those who are sensitive, and some risk of exposure by touching carts, etc) ...people are not just touching the cart, etc, they are touching the foods that I might later pick up to buy. They are leaving their sample cups full of peanut butter, etc all around the store on food that *I* am going to take home and eat.

As for choice- not everyone has a choice in where to shop. There are only a handful of grocery stores in my area. ALL of them have bulk peanuts. ALL of them serve samples (and I have seen peanut samples at most).

I only get fresh produce from the (once-a-week) farmer's market when they are available (short season here! and I often miss them because I work on Saturdays). And I can stop at Aldi when I am in that area (about once a month- but too far to drive there just to shop)

I haven't tried addressing this issue with the stores/manufacturers yet (because it has been a recent problem in my area & lack of time), but I do plan to write because I DO think this is a point where a slight change can be made to keep ALL customers happy.

They can continue to pass out samples- they should just limit it to things that aren't going to leave a potentially dangerous residue on the food *other* customers might buy.

I certainly understand the store's desire to make customers happy and increase sales- but *I* am also a customer and there is nothing wrong with me pointing out to the stores how they can make *me* happy.

Tara P

On Aug 23, 2006

Munchkin's Mom,

I agree wholeheartedly with you! In my area, I don't have access to a grocery store that never has samples. It would be impossible for me to vote with my feet and just find another store that doesn't serve samples. Even shopping during non-sampling hours won't guarantee a clean shopping cart, or clean floors, shelves, packages, etc, if people who eat samples don't wipe their hands.

I really love the "sample alley" idea with the sanitizer/wet wipes provided near the exit so people will be able to wipe off as they start to shop. Grocers would probably go for this idea as most of the stores I go to provide wipes near the cart area anyway, so not very much added expense, and then their liability would be lessened, as well as their cleaning costs.

This sounds like an excellent idea to advocate! Can we get organized on this, or is it something that should be added to FALCPA ?

On Aug 24, 2006

I do actually also agree with the "pick your battles" saying. This is one battle I am "picking". I am not one that screams as loud as possible at every thing that affects my son. I allow him to do pretty much everything and am not one in everyone I knows face about changing the world for him. I understand this is his reality. However, I also understand that there could be a happy medium here.

I LOVE the idea of a sample area. GREAT idea. This could alleviate a lot of anxiety for many people. It will not eliminate all risk for my son, but, I understand that someone could just as easily allow their child to eat a peanut butter sandwich while they shop. Again, you can't control the entire world. Also, much happier with the "odds" that I happen to pick up a package someone has touched with peanut hands as oppossed to 100% that he is walking through the peanut in the air.

I will contact FAAN and see if there is a good route to go on this....will keep those of you interested aware.

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