Changes are coming to the Peanut and Tree Nut Free Edition of the Safe Snack Guide, one of five editions of the Guide including the Milk (Dairy) Free, Sesame Free, Gluten Free, and Custom Editions. Although these changes are important, they will not affect the other editions.
The vast majority of products listed in the Guide are preceded by green symbols indicating they are from manufacturers who have joined our Manufacturer Partnership (now 160+ members strong) and by doing so have agreed to our terms. They must disclose precisely how they process the 11 allergens we track for each product using our proprietary platform and keep that information up to date, along with a number of other requirements. The product information they submit goes through a stringent review process before the listings are added to our database.
The Peanut and Tree Nut Free edition is the granddaddy of all editions, the one we launched SnackSafely.com with back in 2011. It contained a small number of other listings referred to as “Black Dot” items because they were preceded in the Guide by a black dot.
Black Dot items are popular snacks from companies we do not have formal agreements with. We added them years ago after requests from teachers and school nurses who needed common products like Oreos and Goldfish added that were not likely to leave residue that peanut or tree nut allergic children would react to.
Here is the formal description in the Guide:
Black Symbol (•): These products do not list peanuts, tree nuts and eggs as ingredients on the label, there are no warnings on the label that the product may contain these allergens, and to the best of our knowledge these products are produced on lines where these allergens are not processed.
Because we do not have agreements in place with these companies, we do what you do to ensure these products adhere to the statement above: we periodically reach out to each manufacturer’s consumer department.
From time to time we have removed Black Dot items when we felt we could no longer trust information provided by the respective manufacturer. But with more and more companies hiding behind blanket statements such as “We’ll warn on the label when we think there is a cross-contact issue,” we have lost confidence in our ability to collect and provide accurate information.
As such — with the next issue to be published in January — we have made the difficult decision to retire Black Dot items from the Guide entirely. We understand this may place an additional burden on our readers who have come to rely on our listings of those products, but it is our belief that allergen safety is paramount and we would NEVER want to provide information that we wouldn’t rely on for our own children.
What can you do? Reach out to your favorite brands and ask them to join our Manufacturer Partnership. It’s free to join us and have their products listed in our Guides and Allergence product screening service in exchange for disclosures for how they process the 11 allergens we track which include the Top 8 (peanuts, tree nuts, milk, eggs, soy, wheat, fish, and crustacean shellfish), sesame, mustard and gluten.
Click here for a preformatted e-mail message to send to your favorite brands. All you need to add is the e-mail address of the brand’s consumer department, or you can simply copy the text into the “Contact Us” form on their website.
We thank you for your continued trust in us to provide you with the allergen information you won’t find on the label or anywhere else.