By Kathy Franklin
Examine the Entire Package—- My son once got sick after eating an ice cream sandwich. Had he forgotten to check the ingredients? No, he had read them carefully. Twice. What he hadn’t noticed was a second set of ingredients on the other side of the wrapper. There was one list for the ice cream, and a separate list of ingredients for the chocolate wafers. Likewise, not all companies put the allergen statement, “May Contain Traces of …” directly below the ingredients. Check the whole package.
Read the Label Three Times—- Read the ingredients at the store when you select the product. Read it again when you unpack your groceries at home. Read it a third time before serving. We’ve found allergens the third time that we didn’t catch the first or second. An even better idea is to read it with your child, or your allergic guest, before serving. It will get them in the habit of always checking before eating.
Consider the Source—- General Mills, Kraft, and Hershey’s are wonderful about food allergies. They use state-of-the-art preparation methods to ensure there’s no cross-contamination. But beware of “Granny Mae’s Homemade Apple Pie” or “Aunt Ida’s Organic Banana Bread”, sold at your local farmer’s market or the neighborhood deli, hand-wrapped in plastic. These producers typically don’t have the resources to make products on separate lines, nor the legal staff to research the intricacies of the latest food labeling laws. I found a lovely apple pie at a nearby green market, delighted that it was safe for my child, according to the ingredient label. But the crust was suspiciously shiny, so I asked the seller if she was sure there was no egg wash. “No, if it’s not on the label, then there are no eggs.” I had her double-check with her boss, who said, “Oh, yes, of course, there’s an egg wash on top, but just a little bit.” Why wasn’t that on the label? “Because it’s such a small amount, and it’s on the pie, not in the pie.”
Next time: Reading Ingredients on Soap, Cosmetics, Sunscreen and Body Lotions – You Won’t Believe What’s in There!