As the start of the school year approaches, we receive many inquiries about the Safe Snack Guide from parents, teachers, school nurses and PTA organizations as they search for solutions to help implement nut-free classroom policies.
Here follows a collection of the most frequently asked questions complete with answers.
Q: What is the Safe Snack Guide?
A: The Guide is a list of commonly available snacks that are free of peanuts, tree nuts, and except where indicated, eggs. You can find a helpful flyer describing the Guide suitable for distribution by clicking here.
Q: What is the Safe Snack Guide used for?
A: The Guide is intended as a resource to help parents select treats that comply with peanut and tree nut exclusion policies, such as for school snack time, lunch and classroom celebrations. Snacks without peanuts and tree nuts help minimize the opportunity for contact reactions with these allergens, such as those that might be caused when a child eats a peanut butter sandwich and then touches a surface that then might later be touched by an allergic child.
Q: How is the Safe Snack Guide distributed?
A: The Guide is distributed as a PDF available via a link at the bottom of the Safe Snack Guide page of our website and can be printed on your local printer.
Q: How should the Safe Snack Guide be used?
A: Provide a link to the Safe Snack Guide (/safe-snack-guide) on your school’s website or in an e-mail directly to parents. Ask them to restrict the snacks they send in with their children to those listed in the Guide. We also provide other resources in support of the Guide such as an open letter to parents, website badges and nut-free posters for the classroom on our Tools for Schools page.
Q: Are the products listed in the Safe Snack Guide guaranteed to be free of cross-contamination with peanuts and tree nuts?
A: Products preceded by green symbols are asserted to be free of peanuts and tree nuts as ingredients and made in peanut and tree nut free facilities by their respective manufacturers, either via information provided via our Partnership Program, on the product packaging, and/or on the manufacturer website/marketing collateral. Products preceded by a black bullet may be manufactured in facilities that also process these allergens but to the best of our knowledge are made on dedicated lines free of these allergens. That knowledge is compiled via periodic surveys and contact with the manufacturer’s consumer services and may already be out of date by the time you download a copy of the Guide. In either event, we make no claims about the suitability of these products for a child with an allergy to peanuts or tree nuts. Parents are invited to use the Safe Snack Guide as a starting point for product ideas but must confirm the suitability of prospective products with their respective manufacturers before giving them to a child with food allergies.
Q: Can children with peanut or tree nut allergies be given a treat listed in the Guide without a parent’s consent?
A: No, absolutely not. The parent is the final arbiter of what should be given their child with food allergies. Instead, we advocate that all such children be provided their own “Goody Box” that is kept stocked with approved treats by the parent. At the appropriate time, such as during a classroom celebration, the teacher or school nurse allows the child to select a treat from their own box. Parents can stock their child’s box with wrapped snacks including cupcakes, chips, etc. to match what is normally consumed during a classroom event so that the child can choose treats in keeping with the celebration theme.
Q: How is the Safe Snack Guide researched?
A: Products listed in bold are by manufacturers that participate in the SnackSafely.com Manufacturer Partnership Program and provide allergen information directly to us via our platform. Other products are researched via periodic surveys of the market place and contact with the respective manufacturer consumer phone and email services.
Q: Does the Safe Snack Guide list anything other than snacks?
A: In addition to snacks, you’ll find listings for peanut butter alternatives, baking mixes, frozen entrees, breakfast cereals and many other categories of products.
Q: What’s with all the junk food? Why not restrict the list to healthy snacks?
A: We wanted the Guide to encompass a wide variety of snacks to make compliance as easy as possible, so in addition to traditional treats we include many selections that are organic, non-GMO, vegan, etc.
Q: What about products that accommodate other food allergies, such as allergies to milk, soy, etc?
A: SnackSafely.com is about to launch a new service that provides detailed information regarding potential exposure to 11 allergens including peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, milk, soy, wheat, fish and shellfish (the FDA’s “top 8”) as well as gluten, sesame and mustard. Sign up to participate in a preview of this service by clicking here.
Q: How often is the Safe Snack Guide updated?
A: The Guide averages two or three updates per month, so be sure to subscribe via e-mail to keep abreast of changes, additions and advisories.
Q: How long has the Safe Snack Guide been in print? Why did you start it?
A: Versions of the Guide have been distributed for nine years now, three since the SnackSafely.com blog began publication. Co-Founder Debra Bloom first conceived of the snack list that would become the Safe Snack Guide when her daughter, who is allergic to peanuts and eggs, first started pre-school.
For more about the Safe Snack Guide, visit us at SnackSafely.com.