Yesterday I had a mini-break and jetted off to Melbourne for the day. In the morning, I attended the Kids Business Bloggers Brunch, where I met some fabulous women bloggers and had a chance to chat to some brands about all things allergy.
It always surprises me how embedded food allergies are in our community. In a group of over 50 women, everyone I talked to either had food allergies in their family, or knew someone with alleriges. This was something I was keen to get across to the brands in attendance, because sometimes it feels like the big food manufacturers don’t have food allergies on their radar.
The first thing I noticed when I arrived at the brunch was a display of new Vita Weat products from Arnotts.
I’m a sucker for new products and a food label geek, so I immediately began reading the ingredient label to see what the allergy panel said. I knew they’d contain gluten (they’re Vita Weats after all) but I was hoping they might be peanut safe. Unfortunately the allergy information said:
May contain: milk, egg, sesame and nuts
One of the girls from the Arnott’s display then came over to have a chat to me and I filled her in on my background and my blog. Like a good PRPR, she then reciprocated by reeling off the positives of the product and I assured her that I was sold on them for myself, because I’d had a sample and they’re delicious.
I could have left it at that, but I couldn’t let the opportunity pass, so I asked her if she knew why Arnotts (and other food companies) don’t differentiate between peanuts and tree nuts on their ingredient panels.
I explained how difficult it is to find products that are safe for someone with peanut allergy, and how it was impossible for me to know if this product was safe for my son when the label just said – nuts.
The poor girl then got an education in the difference between peanuts and tree nuts, but to her credit she listened and asked questions. Once she understood the problem, she was empathetic and undertook to follow it up for me with their food technology department.
It made me think that we need to be more vocal with food manufacturers about the problems we experience with food labels. It’s like the IT system at the office. Everyone grumbles about how slow and unresponsive it is, but we don’t make a formal complaint because we think we can’t change it. But unless we complain and give feedback, there’s next to no chance of the companies responding.
I’m looking forward to hearing more from Arnott’s about their food allergy labelling, but I also had an opportunity to speak to a couple of other brands and here’s a quick wrap up of what I learned:
- all their Christmas hams are gluten free this year.
- they are looking to expand their “free from” section in 2012.
- very impressed with the labelling on their products.
- stay tuned for a review on their allergy friendly laundry powder.
- their asthma and allergy friendly vacuum cleaner looks amazing.
- they have endorsement from the National Asthma Council of Australia.
I’ll be writing more about the allergy friendly products these companies have to offer in the next few weeks.