I felt that since everyone is focusing on peanuts and the salmonella scare that I would alert you to other health issues surrounding peanuts.
Peanut allergies need to be taken seriously – they can create intense symptoms and have been fatal in some of the most extreme cases. For someone with a peanut allergy, even coming in contact with another individual who has consumed peanuts can cause a reaction. Even a kiss can be fatal if someone has eaten peanut products. Being such a high allergen, we at Native Sun take extra care to make sure peanuts do not come into contact with any foods that are not supposed to contain them.
Our team has been focused on food allergies for over 13 years. Through our research, we have discovered that in the manufacturing world, peanuts and wheat are the two of the hardest ingredients to assure our customers that a product is free of – wheat flour because it is so light that it gets into the air very easily before it settles, and peanuts because they are such a common ingredient that most facilities have at least one product with peanuts in it.
Furthermore, dust from peanuts can contaminate the “shell to nut” production lines in processing plants. So while the packaging facility may be “peanut-free”, the almonds or cashews in their packages may already be contaminated with peanut residue from the processing plant. It does get confusing, but we at Native Sun pay attention to these details to help you protect your family’s health.
Another issue in peanut manufacturing has arisen that we feel is also important for you to know about, and for us to keep you up-to-date on. As a result of our country’s current economic situation, many manufacturers are switching their production facilities from ones that were previously “peanut-free” or had proper safe handling practices, to less stringent facilities. Ginny, Native Sun’s Food Education Coordinator, and I were discussing this issue yesterday and have already begun contacting ALL of our facilities about the changes that are happening.
As your trusted grocer, I feel it is our duty to get in writing the safe and natural handling practices of our manufacturers. We are known throughout our industry for this research tackling gluten, casein, peanuts, GMOs, cloning, and more. The only problem is that manufacturers don’t notify us when things change – unless we ask. We would love to have more control over the products, but we can only hold our manufacturers to a higher standard by getting it all in writing. While our process can be slow, it’s the most accurate I have seen.
Our detailed research on these topics is the basis for our Allergen Tagging System – the color coded bars you see on our product shelf tags. Green is for “Low Sodium”, Yellow is for “No Casein Added”, Red is for “No Gluten Added”, and Orange is for “No Peanuts Added.” (We use the term “No Peanuts Added” instead of “peanut-free” as we are not the manufacturer and cannot control all aspects of their production.)
If you or a family member has a peanut allergy please pay extra attention to our allergen tagging system in-store for items that are marked in orange as “No Peanuts Added”. Some products that were previously marked “No Peanuts Added” have had the tag removed due to recent production changes. We are still finding out about changes every day, so please contact manufacturers yourself before consuming any mainstream product that is not produced by a specialty allergen-free food company.
I’ve found that many allergen customers have a hard time shopping elsewhere because product labels don’t tell the whole story. While we tell much more of the story with our Allergen Tagging System, we will never have 100% of our manufacturer’s information. We promise to continue searching for any gaps and fill them for you. Until then, please be extra cautious, read your labels, ask us questions, call the manufacturers and be well.