what does peanutfree mean?


O.K., I am starting to settle in a bit more to the fact that this allergy is a part of our lives. I've accepted it, now I want to know everything I can about it.

An issue that seems to me running through these boards is "what does it mean to be peanut free?" I'm struggling with this as I'm sure many folks new the allergy are.

Yes, it is ridiculous that peanut can legally disguise as "natural flavor," no doubt that that must change. And it makes perfect sense to me to call manufacturers to probe any "natural flavors" ingredient. It makes sense to me to read every label. It makes sense to exercise *extreme* caution when eating out or eating bakery products.

Where I seem really confused is the cross-contamination issues. From the posts I've read, it sounds like many large manufacturers claim to have some knowledge about peanut allergy and generally keep their peanut and peanut free products separated with a sanitized washing of the equipment between production.

My question is: Is that good enough to be safe? Does anyone REALLY know? Does everything I put in my son's mouth need to be made in a county-wide peanut-free zone to be safe?

It makes sense to me the manufacturers would always tell you "there's always a chance" just to save their own hides on the slight chance there could be a problem. An airline would never guarantee me that my plane wouldn't fall out of the sky, but it seems with proper standard safety and security measures that it would be unlikely. Unlikely enough that I still fly. Is the chance of cross-contamination slight enough that it is still 99.9% safe for my son to eat foods made in a plant that produces peanut-products, but uses safe cleaning measures?

I don't mean to be ignorant or rude, but I am certainly new to all of this.

Very curious on what guidelines you use in your selection of safe products.


On Dec 27, 1999

Jennifer, The difficult issue with this "cross contamination" business is that there are different sensitivity levels for all PA individuals. What might be 99% safe for you may only be 60% safe for my son. This is one of the reasons that no company is going to give you a guarantee. What if the company power washes their machines between each process but is unable to get out a few microscopic particles of peanut? For most people (probably my son included) this will not affect him. But there will be that individual that will react to it. It will probably be that one individual that is allergic to just smelling peanuts. What it all boils down to is what risk you are comfortable with. How much peanut do you think it will take to cause a reaction in your child? A speck, a drop, a teaspoon? If you KNOW that they are hypersensitive, you take greater risks than another parent might. Christine