About us? Ok really, right now it is just me setting up this website. But who am I and why should you trust me?
I am the mother of two young children, one with food allergies. My daughter was diagnosed with food allergies in 2008 at the age of three. When she ate a single pistachio nut and had a severe and sudden reaction.
I was told to avoid letting her eat the specific foods that she was allergic to and anything that could have come in contact with the allergen, in her case nuts. My first instinct was no problem. I will create lists of the things she can and cannot eat. That way no matter who is giving her food they will know what is safe. I soon learned that it is not quite that simple. Managing food allergies is a lot more complicated than one would think.
I learned that there are laws in the United States (FALCPA, Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004) that control how food manufacturers label their products for food allergies. Laws require the packaging of any product that contains any of the “eight major allergens” must list the allergen within the ingredients statements or in a separate “contains” statement directly below the ingredients statement. This law makes it easy to know which foods she can eat and which to avoid, if the allergen is actually in the food.
The problems and complications really began when I learned that there is no law requiring food manufacturers to label if a food could have been cross contaminated with a food allergen. Let me repeat that: Manufacturers are NOT required to warn consumers about possible cross-contamination. All of those “may contain” statements, “manufactured in a facility,” lines you see on food products are put there because the food company chooses to not because they have to.
So I started spending countless hours on the telephone and on-line, contacting each individual food manufacturer to determine the possibilities of cross-contamination within their products. This is time consuming, exhausting, overwhelming and often frustrating. I have actually found myself dialing a 1-800 number of a company while in the store before buying a particular product. I get calls from the school and other parents and have to research food at a moment’s notice. I do it at work, on the train, and riding in a car. I will research food companies on a moment’s notice because I do not want my daughter to be denied having something if I can help it.
Over the past four years, I have come to realize that it is better to find out each manufacturer’s policy for “advisory labeling” of potential cross-contaminated food than to ask about a specific brand or product. If the manufacturer has a policy in place to put “advisory labeling” on its package, I can be confident in relying upon the information on the labels when shopping for food. I can determine if any product made by that manufacturer does or does not have a cross-contamination allergen issue. If the manufacturer has no such policy, I cannot rely upon the label information, and each individual product will require research. This knowledge has made food shopping much easier. Funny enough, the most difficult part is trying to remember which food manufacturers I have deemed as “trustworthy labelers” and which I have deemed as “untrustworthy labelers”.
There is no reason for millions of people to spend countless hours calling one food company after another. It is invaluable to have all of this information posted in one place so people can refer to it for any food product they want. It would be very helpful for all of the people living with food allergies – the parents, grandparents, and caregivers of children with food allergies – as well as day care centers, schools, and any other person who is feeding food to someone with food allergies. This is why I created this website.
What is posted here is the information I have gathered from calling companies and manufacturers. Should you trust me? And the information I have placed here? The food allergy community is close knit. I find myself swapping information with people all the time. I hope if you use the information here you will trust my information just like that you would receive from another friend / “allergy mom”. In truth that is all I am.
Hoping to make shopping for food allergic people easier one label at a time,