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Food industry 'nuts' need to act, not merely be aware page 2
Allergy awareness is good, but actually acting on that awareness would be better

  Richard Amrhine's archive
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Date published: 4/20/2008

By Richard Amrhine


"No, you would have to notify the airline in advance about that," she said.

Thanks for being so helpful and accommodating.

By my quick calculation, there were 23 rows of six seats each on our Boeing 737. That's 138 passengers.

The odds are that at least one passenger on the plane, as well as on each the hundreds of other flights the airline flies day after day, has a peanut allergy.

Dealing with that reality, however, would require corporate thinking on the individual customer level, and we all know that corporations pretty much view the customer base as a herd of cattle--or planeload of suitcases with heads.


It was over a year ago that the Food and Drug Administration's new food labeling guidelines went into effect. It's a good idea to let people know in detail what they're eating. In addition to providing key dietary information, manufacturers are required to identify any of the eight primary food allergens--milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, or soybeans--that are contained in a product.

Most of them do this in a variety of vague and unhelpful ways. The wording announces "May contain traces of tree nuts or peanuts," or "Manufactured on equipment that processes peanuts," or even "Made in a plant that also manufactures products with peanuts."

While we appreciate that information, all it does is tell a peanut-allergic child like my daughter that she can't enjoy all the packaged cookies or Easter candy that her friends eat routinely. Go ahead, try to find a chocolate candy or cookie that doesn't have a peanut warning or, better yet, has "peanut-free" on the label.

At age 11, my daughter is and must be her own best protection against an allergic reaction that could range anywhere from an itchy tongue to deadly anaphylactic shock. She either carries her Epipen with her, or knows where one is nearby.

Many of her friends are sympathetic to the situation and help her remain vigilant. On Valentine's Day, a classmate brought her a package of yogurt-covered raisins for her to check. It said: "May contain an occasional peanut or tree nut."

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