Global News has provided additional details regarding the Andrea Mariano tragedy. The teen, who was enjoying her second day of campus life as a psychology student at Queen’s University in Ontario Friday, perished as a result of an anaphylactic reaction.
Ms Mariano, who was allergic to both dairy and peanuts, consumed a smoothie that was cross-contaminated with one of her allergens. It is unclear whether the smoothie came from a campus outlet or the university dining hall, and which allergen was the cause.
After conducting an investigation into how sesame-allergic consumers can protect themselves, The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) issued a scathing report entitled “Open Sesame: Why Sesame Must Be Disclosed As an Allergen on Food Labels” and renewed calls upon the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to include sesame in their list of allergens that require special labeling.
Some background: An estimated 300,000-500,000 people in the US suffer from sesame allergy. Robert Wood, MD, Director of Pediatric Allergy and Immunology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, is cited in the report as saying: “Sesame allergies have probably increased more than any other type of food allergy over the past 10 to 20 years. They’re now clearly one of the six or seven most common allergens in the U.S.”
The Food Allergy Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA) mandates manufacturers clearly label when any of eight allergens (peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, milk, wheat, soy, fish, shellfish) are ingredients of a food product. Others, like sesame, can be listed under obscure names such as “spices” or “natural flavoring”.
CSPI enlisted the help of families affected by sesame allergy to compile a list of companies that do not disclose sesame in ingredient lists or voluntary allergen statements. The organization then contacted companies on the list to inquire about their sesame disclosure practices.
The results were shocking: many of the companies contacted would not disclose the sesame content of their products even when responding to direct inquiries. The report states:
The prevalence of nondisclosure among food-makers we contacted suggests a pervasive and dangerous lack of information about a life-threatening risk for consumers. Indeed, of the dozens of food makers contacted, only three – Kraft, General Mills, and Mondelez – include sesame currently in allergen labeling for products. Some companies, like Frito-Lay, do not warn of sesame content on product packaging but will disclose sesame content if a consumer calls to request information. But many companies – including major food manufacturers that make dozens of products – do not disclose the presence of sesame on labels and will not tell a consumer if they ask for that information. The task of conducting meticulous research to determine whether foods are safe to eat is a risky system that should not be imposed upon the public.
Two women who served on the boards of disaster relief organizations in the wake of Superstorm Sandy decided to continue their work to support Long Island families. Together, Theresa DePietto and Jennifer Aulino founded Hope Floats, a non-profit providing financial and logistical assistance to Long Island families affected by medical emergencies, disabilities, loss, and poverty.
At the beginning of the school year, Theresa, Jennifer and a team of volunteers assembled and distributed packets to families of the Babylon school where Theresa’s daughter Ava is a student. Each packet provided educational information about food allergies, a copy of the Safe Snack Guide, and samples of two peanut butter alternatives, SunButter and WowButter (both members of the SnackSafely.com Manufacturer Partnership.)
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Now that the kids are back readin’, ritin’ and ‘rithmetickin, it’s time for the 2015 Back-to-School update of the Safe Snack Guide and Allergence! We’re pleased to announce the addition of new products from the latest member to join our Manufacturer Partnership as well as new offers.
PhillySwirl – specializes in refreshing Philadelphia-style Italian ice products that are swirled together in delicious flavor combinations. Their products featured in the Guide are all marketed free of the “Top 8” allergens including peanuts, tree nuts and eggs. Click here to learn more about their products including their store finder.
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Last week, Lianne Mandelbaum – founder of the No Nut Traveler blog – was featured on NPR’s Here & Now to discuss the difficulties of traveling by air with a severe peanut allergy.
Lianne describes the need for early boarding, buffer zones, and stock epinephrine on every flight. The 10 minute segment entitled A Push To Make Flying Safer For People With Peanut Allergies is well worth the time and you can listen to it here:
Sunbutter, manufacturer of the leading peanut-butter alternative and a long-time member of the SnackSafely.com Manufacturer Partnership, has published a free recipe book designed specifically for school food services.
The resource, entitled School Safe Foodservice Recipes, provides 17 peanut and tree nut free recipes schools can use to help implement nut-free school policies.
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We’re pleased to announce the addition of many products from new and existing members of our Manufacturer Partnership as well as clarifications to text that appears on our cover page.
SnackSafely.com welcomes two manufacturers that have joined our partnership, now numbering over 50 companies. By doing so, they have committed to providing much greater disclosure regarding their processing of 11 allergens than is required by the FDA on the label.
Goetze’s Candy is a family owned company located in Baltimore, Maryland. Founded in 1895, Goetze’s Candy has been making sweet treats in the USA for over 120 years. The firm produces iconic Caramel Creams® and Cow Tales®, both manufactured in a facility free of peanuts and tree nuts. Click here to learn more about Goetze’s and their products.
Triann’s Pantry specializes in quick, easy, delicious baking mixes free of gluten, dairy, soy, egg, peanut, tree nut, rice and corn that are manufactured in their own dedicated facility free of these allergens. Click here to learn more about Triann’s and their products.
We’ve added organic, dark chocolate chips and mini-bars from the Pascha Chocolate Company. Pascha specializes in gourmet dark chocolate completely free of all 8 major allergens (and more) with no taste compromise. Click here to learn more about Pascha and their products.
We received many questions regarding those “May contain…” type messages you find on labels after our Time article yesterday. With that in mind, here’s a 10 second quiz to see how well you know what those warnings really mean:
The following are allergen warnings you might find on a product that does not contain the allergen as an ingredient. Simply put them in order of safest to most risk that the product contains traces of the allergen:
A – May contain allergen
B – Manufactured in a facility that also processes allergen
C – Manufactured on equipment that also processes allergen
D – May contain traces of allergen
E – [No statement]
You have 10 seconds while we bring you this graphic. Go!
An article by Markham Heid posted on Time’s website yesterday seeks to answer whether you can rely on those voluntary “May contain…” and “Manufactured on equipment that also processes…” warnings that appear on food products. We say voluntary because the FDA only requires that manufacturers disclose when a Top-8 allergen is an ingredient of a product, not when there is a danger of cross-contact with an allergen that is processed on the same equipment or in the same facility as the product.
While the article is well written, it may mislead the reader by giving the impression that you can rely on labels to determine whether a food product is safe because “no one is trying to hoodwink consumers—or expose someone with an allergy to a potentially harmful ingredient.”
Please note that we have removed a product from the Safe Snack Guide due to a change in labeling, manufacture, or disclosure:
- ShopRite Red White Blue Pops 12 Pack
We have confirmed with a representative of the Wakefern Food Corporation, the manufacturer of many ShopRite brand products, that this item is currently manufactured in a line that also processes tree nuts.
Also note that we incorrectly identified Vermont Nut Free Fudge with the advisory [EGG processed in Facility] when in fact it should have been identified with the advisory [Contains EGG]. This has now been corrected and we apologize for the error.
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