Peanut Free but Dairy Allergy Gets the Short Shrift

I spoke to the  producer of a national talk show last week and part of that discussion was telling her all of the major national brands in Canada that have begun producing and labeling items as Peanut Free.  She asked me to send her a couple of those products along with Nonuttin’ samples so that she could see what kind of selection is available to Canadians but not to Americans.  So off to the grocery store I went.

Many items such as candies and chocolate bars were really easy with Halloween coming soon.  The store had huge displays of all of the peanut free items currently being offered and I had no problem finding all sorts of goodies.  I then headed to the cracker and cookie and fruit snacks aisles where I added several Dare products to my cache.

Along the way, I decided to try and get at least a few items that were both peanut free and dairy free because the producer’s child suffers from both of those allergies and I hoped to send a pleasant surprise their way.  That’s when the going really got tough.  I haven’t had to shop dairy free for several years since both of my girls outgrew their dairy allergies.  I discovered that it hasn’t gotten any easier and with all of the peanut free items that I could find I was only able to get 1 item that didn’t have dairy or traces of dairy in it.

While I’m thankful that my own children’s allergies no longer include dairy, it seems to me that the manufacturing world’s focus on peanut free has really given dairy the short shrift.  And it has somehow communicated to the world at large that only peanut allergies are life threatening and need monitoring.  For those of you with dairy allergies, I know I’m preaching to the choir but this grocery trip really opened my eyes up anew.

I’ve said for years that I believe the most difficult allergens to avoid are dairy, wheat and soy.  I find this holds true in my search for ingredients for Nonuttin’ products too.  And despite my desire to have Nonuttin’ products soy free as well, I have discovered that even if we were to remove soy from our own facility, so many of the ingredients we source have soy cross contamination issues that I wouldn’t be comfortable labeling our products as soy free.

I’m not sure what it will take to have other major allergens come to the forefront like peanut has but I think we’ve got a long way to go.