Can consumers trust allergen advisory labels on food products?

Since we opened the doors on July 1st, 2010 we have noticed several kinds of shoppers in the store. As a concerned parent we truly watch out for foods that possibly have cross contamination. When someone comes in with a new found allergen or celiac disease that is where the question comes in what about when the label says "may contain traces of".  Following is an article written in Journal of Allergy and Immunology that breaks it down.

Highlights - July 2010

Lara S Ford, MD, MPH, Steve L Taylor, PhD, Robert Pacenza, BA, Lynn M Niemann, Debra M Lambrecht, BS, and Scott H Sicherer, MD

For people with food allergies, shopping for safe foods to insure effective avoidance can be very confusing. Packaged foods often have labels advising of possible allergen contaminants, using wording like “may contain” or “made in a facility that processes”. This labeling, though, is voluntary and not standardized or regulated. Surveys suggest that food-allergic consumers appear to be increasingly ignoring these warnings, presumably out of frustration and doubt about whether the information can be trusted.
In an upcoming issue of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, found online now at, Ford and colleagues simultaneously investigate three important issues related to labeling and allergen contamination:
1) the frequency and level of contamination of a large sample of products with advisory labeling for three major allergens (egg, milk, and peanut),
2) differences in the contamination risks between large and small manufacturers, and
3) the frequency and level of contamination of products that lack advisory labeling but are similar to ones bearing allergen warnings.
The researchers obtained a sample of non-perishable products with advisory labeling for the three allergens and similar products without advisory labeling from multiple supermarkets in New York and New Jersey. They chose from eight product categories (baking mixes, chocolate candies, non-chocolate candies, cookies, salty snacks, cold cereals, pastas and pancake mixes) and each product was tested for egg, milk and/or peanut allergens where there was a reasonable possibility of contamination. The authors found detectable residues of the three allergens in 5.3% of advisory labeled products and in 1.9% of similar products without advisory statements. Of note: one supermarket chain used the label “Good Manufacturing Practices were used to segregate ingredients in a facility that also processes peanut, tree nuts, milk, shellfish, fish, and soy ingredients”, which could be interpreted to mean that the product was safe from contamination; however of 26 baking mixes tested with this label, milk contamination was detected in 2 and egg in 1. Small companies were found to have more contaminated foods, at 5.1% contamination, compared with 0.7% of products from large companies. Among products without advisory statements, no peanut was detected. More research is needed to determine the risk associated with contamination, but the levels of egg and milk detected among products without advisory statements ranged from levels unlikely to trigger symptoms to ones that could trigger symptoms for very sensitive persons, particularly for milk. Overall, these findings represent a real risk for consumers and highlight the need for allergic customers to avoid products with advisory labels and to have some concern for products that have no advisory labels, particularly from small companies within categories of higher risk products. These data also highlight the importance of increasing awareness among manufacturers, particularly smaller companies, of the need for appropriate labeling that accurately informs of risks and to take steps to further reduce contamination.

The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (JACI) is the official scientific journal of the AAAAI, and is the most-cited journal in the field of allergy and clinical immunology.

Newsletter September 13 - September 27

Our biggest news this week is our Grand Opening! Please come join us Saturday, September 18 from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm.  We will have a bounce slide and face painting for the kids, live music, cupcake decorating, a basket giveaway, product samples, the Shea Butter lady, an Autism Walk sign-up booth, a Feingold booth, and much more!

In the store this week we have Beanito Black Bean Chips.  They are corn-free and gluten-free, high in fiber with a low glycemic index, and contain Omega-3s! Only $3.49!

We also have PastaSlim by WildWood Organics in the refrigerated section. They are gluten-free, require no cooking, and they are only 20 calories! Only $2.19!

September 13th Produce Pick Up

Here's your goodies!

4ct Fingergold Apples
Black Plums
2lbs Red Seedless Grapes
1 Keitt Mango
2 Avocados
1 head Green Leaf Lettuce
3 Roma Tomatoes
1 bunch Green Onion
1 head Broccoli
Yukon Gold Potatoes
Fresh Jalapeno

Extra Items For Sale
Green Leaf Lettuce $2 per head
Green Onion $1 per bunch

September 6th Organic Boxes

I hope everyone is having a great week. This is what you'll find in your box Monday!

1lb Fuji Apples
1lb Strawberries
1 Cantaloupe
4 Yellow Peaches
4 Starkrimson Pears
1 Keitt Mango
1 Head Green Leaf Lettuce
8oz Cremini Mushrooms
7oz Snap Peas
2 Yellow Onions
4 Ears of Bi-Color Corn
4 Tomatoes

Remember, if you pick up during the 10-11am slot you will be able to pick your own fruit and veggies from the cases. Please bring a container for your produce. If you need an evening pick up your produce will be boxed for you. If you are picking up during the evening please email me with an estimated time.

When you pick up your produce please bring your prepayment for the next pick up (even if your bi weekly). You may post date your check for the Friday before pick up. If you are new to our group and plan on continuing, please bring your registration fee as well.

We will have a limited supply of mango ($2) and strawberries ($4.50) for sale.

Have a wonderful holiday weekend and I'll see you Monday!

Providing Organic Produce for Less!