Monday, August 17, 2009

Hidden Allergens

There's a commercial for peanut-free Quaker Chewy Bars up here in Canada that shows a mom about to put a cupcake in her child's lunch when all of a sudden a peanut jumps up through the top of the cupcake. The purpose of the commercial - other than to sell the Chewy Bars of course - is to highlight the hidden allergens in some products. At the end of the commercial we see the peanut "in jail" within the box of cupcakes that declares on its side may contain peanuts.

The point is, we can't tell what's in a product unless (a) we make it ourselves, or (b) the manufacturer clearly labels what is present as an ingredient or may be present due to cross-contamination from shared lines. And these allergens can be anywhere. Check out the short list of non-food items that I posted earlier that contain peanuts.

I have also noticed for the past month or so that there have been visits to the blog from someone typing "allergy to freezie" in Google. I don't know if that means that they are looking on behalf of them or a loved one to understand how they can be allergic to a freezie, not realizing that it may be through cross-contamination with nuts or some other allergen. Whatever the reason, my heart goes out to them.

As parents of food-allergic children, we each have lists of "safe" foods that our kids can eat and longer lists of foods to avoid. All we can do is share our discoveries, prayers and experiences with each other. For that reason, I'm listing a few links here in the hope that they help you as they've helped us. I caution you that these lists are far from exhaustive, and as always, may change without warning. Always read the labels, and ask questions whenever possible. Also, note that legislation, labelling and products are different in each region.

Our family restaurant list
Peanut free snacks
Our "safe snacks" letter for schools
A list of "safe foods" from the Toronto Catholic District School Board

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