Last week, we published an article entitled Krispy Kreme to Test New Product Containing Tree Nuts Across US where we refer to a message we received from Krispy Kreme corporate with a tacit warning that their products are no longer safe for consumers with tree nut allergies. Whether Krispy Kreme doughnuts were ever truly tree nut safe is a separate matter, but many readers wrote in to tell us it was their go-to snack based on their own research.
We wanted to give our readers equal time, so here is an open letter to the company by S Margaret Pike, who reached out to us after the original article was published. The response summarizes the sentiments of many of the other communications we received on the issue, so here it is in its entirety:
November 11, 2016
Mr. Tony Thompson, CEO
Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, Inc.
P.O. Box 83
Winston-Salem, NC 27102
Dear Mr. Thompson:
I am writing today as a loyal and longtime customer and Winston-Salem resident with a heartfelt request that you take a moment to read this letter in its entirety. Yesterday, I took my children to the Stratford Road store to choose a dozen doughnuts to celebrate a few big accomplishments at school. Celebrating with Krispy Kremes is something we do very often because as you well know, the entire process of going to the store and choosing among the many fun flavors and themes is a treat for young and old. Hours after getting home with our box of doughnuts, I learned via social media that Krispy Kreme is regressively changing its US allergen policies because of the proposed introduction of a hazelnut doughnut and potentially a Reese’s doughnut like the one introduced in Australia and that the hazelnut doughnut is already being served in our local marketplace. I called my local store immediately to verify that what I had just served my peanut and hazelnut allergic child was safe. Luckily, that store had not converted to a potential tree nut/peanut allergen location yet. I am extremely disappointed to report that as soon as it does, Krispy Kreme will have forever lost my family and so many others who count on Krispy Kreme for its nut-free treats. You were our one safe place to go and we were among your best, most loyal ambassadors because of it.
I hope you will indulge me for a moment as I describe what life can be like for a food allergy kid and family because research tells us that the prevalence of food allergies among children and adults has increased rapidly over the last decade. In fact, the latest data (2013) indicates that 1 out of every 13 children has an allergy like my child does and that number is increasing at an alarming rate every year. That means that on average 2 children in every classroom are affected by food allergies. I encourage you to consider this personally and professionally because not only might you find yourself waking up one morning to learn that someone in your family has been affected by this life-altering diagnosis, but also because your products have been the go-to class treat for parties, birthdays, and other celebrations. That will no longer be the case with the peanut/tree nut allergen risks you are introducing into your stores and product lines.
My child cannot walk into an ice cream shop for a scoop because they use the same utensils in the butter pecan and other nut flavors then contaminate the safe ones. No bakery in town will recommend she eat anything in their stores because of the allergen risk. No cake square is worth a trip to the hospital so our family just does not go into these businesses nor can we eat their products when served at friends’ birthday parties or social gatherings. That is always unfortunate and disappointing especially to young children, but the silver lining has been that we could simply swing by Krispy Kreme and pick up a substitute treat she could eat while others had birthday cake. The kid with the Krispy Kreme was often the envy of those eating cake! Many of our friends who know how these allergies affect so many kids would elect to buy doughnuts for everyone instead of birthday cake so all could be a part of the celebratory dessert. Krispy Kreme was the best and most sought after solution for all – allergic or not. This reversion of your stores and factories to peanut and tree nut contaminated facilities ends this for everyone.
Krispy Kreme Doughnuts will no longer be acceptable to bring into the classrooms at every area preschool of which I am aware as they will not allow peanut and tree nut products to be served to their young students. That reality is not limited to our local area as it is a nationwide movement. Many, many elementary and middle schools have policies preventing these peanut/tree nut products from being brought into the classroom as well. I hope you will consider this as you think of reverting all of your facilities in light of a marketplace that has an ever increasing number of individuals who will no longer be able to eat your products. I hope you will consider how this might impact your FUNdraising programs if you are not safe for 1 of 13 kids at every school. Will you still be welcome on campuses? I know of one school nurse who has already issued a ban of your products on one local PreK-12 campus because of this pending change. It’s not too late. There’s still time to reconsider.
Mr. Thompson, you can be our champion. When people have to navigate life with food allergies, it changes everything from how and where we travel to the restaurants where we can safely take our families. When we find a company who shows the rapidly growing allergy community compassion and support, we not only reward you with a fierce loyalty, but we also become your most passionate ambassadors. We encourage others to turn to your products so that everyone can be included. We champion you in our online communities and on the websites we all use to identify safe places for our families to eat (allergyeats.com, snacksafely.com, countless blogs and websites, etc.). I am writing to implore you to see this is as an incredible opportunity for Krispy Kreme to be a hero and a leader in showing compassion, kindness, and inclusion to some of your youngest patrons. I assure you the allergy community will rally around you and help you if you do. It is my sincere hope that driving by the “Hot Light” will continue to bring our family joy and excitement (and usually an impromptu visit) rather than underscore the fact that we can no longer safely eat your products.
I welcome the opportunity to discuss this matter further with you or any Krispy Kreme representative. Thank you in advance for your reconsideration of this decision to convert your stores to places that are no longer safe for the peanut and tree nut allergic.
S. Margaret Pike
We thank Margaret for reaching out to us and encourage all our readers to do likewise when they feel strongly about an article that appears on SnackSafely.com.
We also want to reiterate that SnackSafely.com has never had a relationship with Krispy Kreme, a firm that is not a member of our Manufacturer Partnership. Furthermore, we have never expressed an opinion on whether their products were ever truly safe for people with nut allergies – having never contacted the firm – and their products have never been listed in our Safe Snack Guide or Allergence product screening service.
We do invite Krispy Kreme to join our partnership, which requires they fully disclose how 11 allergens are processed during the manufacture of each product.
It looks like there’s a new CEO on the horizon for Krispy Kreme, Mike Tattersfield according to this article. Just sharing so parents of peanut allergy kiddos, (like me), can correspond with the right individual. http://www.journalnow.com/business/business_news/local/krispy-kreme-ceo-leaving-likely-with-million-golden-parachute/article_337fbeea-1c04-57ff-87f5-fd2dd45962fc.html
The real culprit here is lawyers who will take any case against a major firm and assert they were negligent. Every company protects themselves with so many disclaimers and protections solely to avoid excessive litigation. bet their conditions haven’t changed a bit.
I wrote a similar letter to Starbucks when they started to serve almond milk. We used to count on Frappuccinos after dance recitals, basketball games, etc., as a treat, because we can’t go to ice cream shops, as I did when I was a child. One response was that the almond milk was added to accommodate another food issue: lactose intolerance. Since then, Starbucks has said that they will sanitize one of the blender pitchers or use a new one on request. They also usually have a soy milk pitcher that they use exclusively for soy milk. This means that they never use almond milk in that pitcher, so it is safe to use for nut-allergy kids.
KK is (was) also the go to place for two of our kids. We visited three days ago as a special treat for our kid that had just applied to go to a CC for high school, am exciting opportunity he might have. I stepped in the door waiting for he and my wife to arrive and saw a doughnut with nuts on it. Ironically, hazelnut is one nut he can have. Other common nuts and peanut are out of the question (he’s off the charts with peanut!!!). For the first time, we saw a little sticker on the display glass warning about allergens.
I was further disappointed reading the FAQs on KKs website, where they now claim they have NEVER been able to assure customers against cross-contamination. To be exact:
“Q: Why have you gone away from being nut free?
While we have not in the recent past had products with nuts in them, our shops have never been represented as ‘nut free’ because some of our ingredients have always come from third-party manufacturers that have nuts in their facilities.”
“Q: Do you have peanuts, tree nuts, soy, milk, eggs, or wheat?
Our shops contain products that include common allergens such as peanuts, tree nuts, soy, milk, eggs and wheat. All of the Company’s products may contain traces of these allergens due to the chance for cross contact at our shops and third-party facilities that manufacture and handle our ingredients. For this reason, we cannot guarantee that our products are free from allergen contact.”
On one hand, I’ve always been surprised a doughnut shop could survive without using nuts. On the other, we have been expressly promised no nuts were used in the making of their products, and now wish we would’ve asked for that in writing.
We never get mad at companies for using nuts. It’s a fact of life, and we cannot control other people or companies’ decisions to use common allergens in their diets and ingredients. But we so also appreciate the sacrifices and efforts some people and organizations go through to accommodate as possible. Unfortunately, and needless to say, KK is now off our list, and doughnuts are pretty much OUT for us now, as no other facility can promise against our allergen foes. Sorry, Hostess Donettes don’t count as real doughnuts. 😉
P.S. KK was also on an acceptable list at our school to be provided as a treat in classes where kids have peanut and nut allergy. Our school has been absolutely amazing dealing with allergens. Our kids know that they have to be vigilant, but any thoughtful actions on the part of others helps. It’s tough enough going anywhere public to eat and dealing with most people that seem to think allergy they’ve never had first hand experience with is mythical.