With school only a few weeks away, and summer…almost…over…(Is it OK that I put that in writing? You can pretend you didn’t just read that…) I can tell that everyone is starting to switch over to school-mode because:
- Walmart was a little crazy last week…but then again, it’s always busy…
- I have had several parents and teachers message me asking about food allergies.
The most common questions I have been asked are:
- What foods are safe to bring into a peanut/nut-free school?
- What foods are safe for Grady?
- I can’t find anywhere on the package that states “Made in a peanut/nut free facility”. Is that food safe?
- How do I read food labels?
So, why not write a post answering those questions? Buying safe food can be a daunting and sometimes confusing task. I hope that this post can clarify some of the confusion and help in your back-to-school preparations.
Reading Food Labels:
In Canada, the priority allergens MUST be listed in the ingredients list. This means if a food contains peanuts, tree nuts, egg, milk, shellfish, wheat, soy, sesame, fish, mustard, and/or sulphites, these ingredients will be listed either within the ingredients list, or at the bottom of the ingredients list. Always carefully read the list of ingredients as we have encountered products were allergen information is difficult to see and has been missed.
**In Canada, food items that “may contain” or are “made in the same facility as…” do not have to be declared. When in doubt, you can contact the companies directly.
“Safe” Foods Aren’t Always Safe:
Just because a food is safe, doesn’t mean it is consistently safe. Recipes and manufacturing locations can change affecting the product. Smarties are one of the foods that have been inconsistently safe. Their boxed candy is usually safe but many of their Easter treats are not. It is important to always read the labels, even for products you faithfully purchase.
“Safe” Foods We Pack:
I remember when Grady was first diagnosed, one of my first thoughts was: What can he eat? I felt completely overwhelmed. Eventually, because we were immersed in this food allergy world, we found our groove and it became our new normal. For parents who don’t have to live with food allergies every day, it has to be difficult switching back and forth between having to be aware of the food you send to school, and not worrying about it during the holidays.
To help with any uncertainties, or if you’re still in summer-mode like I am, I have created a list of peanut and tree nut free foods to use as a reference. (If a food isn’t included, it may be that we just don’t eat it in our house. Grady is a picky eater. Haha!).
**Remember to always read the labels as any of these products can change. I cannot guarantee that any of these are safe all of the time.
- Baking ingredients: Hershey’s chocolate chips, Great Value butterscotch chips, Hershey’s white chocolate chips
- Breads/Buns: Villaggio, McGavin’s, D’Italiano, Centibles
- Cookies: Oreos, Chips Ahoy!
- Crackers: Wheat Thins, Triscuits, Goldfish, Ritz, Ritz Cheese Sandwiches, Animal Crackers, Teddy Grahams, graham crackers
- Dairy: Black Diamond cheese strings, Oikos Greek yogurt, Co-op/Armstrong/Black Diamond/Cracker Barrel cheeses
- Granola Bars: Co-op Gold Chocolate Chip, Quaker Chocolate Chip, any “Made Good” products
- Peanut Butter Alternatives: Wow Butter, Sun Butter, No Nuts
- Treats: Smarties, Aero Bars, Hershey’s Eggies, Hershey’s Kisses, Fruit-by-the-Foot, Welch’s Fruit Snacks, Old Dutch Popcorn Twists, Cheetos Puffs, Spangler candy canes
Have a wonderful school year!