Monday, August 18, 2008

Your Questions Answered: Ice Cream Processed on Lines Containing Nuts

Another great question from a reader:

Robyn,

I have a question for you. I have been buying hoodsie icecream as there is nothing in the ingredients about nuts BUT on their website it states

"We have an allergen control program in our ice cream plant. However, we do NOT have a dedicated line for nut containing products."

So I wrote to them and said:

I buy hoodsies because there is no reference on the labels to potential nut contamination from the prodution line ……….

They replied:

Hoodsie cups are made on their own line, however, they are made in a facility containing peanuts and treenuts. We label our ice cream in accordance with FDA guidelines.

My concern is that I have been avoiding products made in the same facility as nuts and now I don’t know what to go by. I can not see in the FDA guidelines that they must report this. I know the chocolate factory’s report it and until now I thought all other production facilities reported the same way.

Do you buy things made in the same facility as nuts if it is reported on the label. The chocolate factories told me there is a very slim chance of cross contamination but they report it none the less and I have not bought those items.

I am trying to settle into a normal life with this but some of these things are driving me crazy. I am becoming obsessed with food labels!!!

(Below is how I responded to this reader when I received the question on Saturday night. But, after the response I gave her, it made me re-think my own comfort zone, particularly when it comes to ice cream. I did research on ice cream brands and will post more on that tomorrow.)

I totally understand your concern. No, I do not knowingly give Tyler things processed in a facility with nuts. There were studies done and there is a 7%-25% chance (based on which study you read) that something processed with nuts could contain them. That is small, but I'm not willing to risk it.

Many people call or email companies before they allow their child to eat a particular item and I am considering doing this as I tighten my own comfort level. What I have been doing (and we have had no reactions) is I look at a particular brand and see if they have a history of labeling for "processed in a facility." For example, I buy a lot of Wal-Mart generics. They label for EVERYTHING. Many times their "processed in a facility with..." is 7 or 8 allergens long. So I know that Wal-Mart gets it. In my experience, many of the bigger companies do label for cross-contamination. If I am unsure, I won't give it to Tyler until I see they have a history of labeling like I talked about.

Some companies do an allergen wash if they do not have dedicated lines. This is where they completely wash the lines to remove allergens. An example of this is Chips Ahoy. I haven't let Tyler eat that because it makes me a little uncomfortable. Yes, they clean their lines but they still process nuts in the facility. This is not noted on the label.

Another thing you can do instead of contacting the companies is to go to peanutallergy.com's boards and do a search on a particular food. If it's a major brand, chances are someone has already posted about it. That's how I found out about Chips Ahoy.

I've never heard of the brand of ice cream you are talking about, but based on their response that they only do the bare minimum that is required by the FDA would make me want to stay away from them. Not only is there a safety issue, I prefer to buy from companies that are truly concerned about their customer's food allergies, not just get by with the least of amount of trouble for them.

It's easy to get obsessed with labels. It can actually be a good thing. I consider myself a label fanatic, too. I've already talked about how labels can change in a previous post. So reading the label every time (even if you're called "obsessed" by some) is very, very important. For me, it's just another act of love I do for my PA Kid!

1 comment:

Joanne B. said...

Rats. I've always thought those were safe too. Stinker.

Going to fire up my ice cream machine and make mini servings for on the go occasions like birthday parties!