Thursday, September 18, 2014

Why I Always Contact Food Manufacturers

I would like to take a moment to explain a bit about how I reached the point where I email/call every single company to vet each new product that my daughter eats. I no longer go by what I see on the label, alone.

Probably the first step in the evolution of my food product management process was the infamous "Milk Incident of New Year's Day 2011" when I gave my daughter bread I had made from a bread mix that I had chose by mistake. If I had called the company before trying out the product, I would have found out that they make milk products on the same line and those mixes would have been eliminated as options. 

Another thing spurring me to call/email every company is my daughter's flax and sesame seed allergies, since they are not a "Top 8" allergen, and therefore not covered under FALCPA. (Even if she didn't have allergens beyond the "Top 8", I would still continue to call/email, given my experiences with companies, thus far.)

The most compelling experience, to date, would have to be the "store brand" labels incident, which I thankfully encountered with an item that was not for my daughter's consumption. Even though I had already learned that the label didn't tell the whole story, I was still shocked to see two identical products (under different "store brands") with differing labels, and voluntary warnings only on one of the item's packaging. 

Lastly, here is the thing that strengthens my will to keep contacting companies to get as much information as I can. Any fans of the show "How It's Made"? I love that show, and my daughter and husband always laugh at me, because every time I watch an episode, I invariably say, "WOW!" at some point during the episode. It really is amazing to me how much goes into making so many products than we might think. I have watched this show for years, but what has caught my eye, now that I have "allergen-spotting eyes," is the view into the makings of food products. Here are some small snippets of the kinds of things I see on these episodes:  

After seeing "behind the curtain," I am keenly interested in just what is going on at a factory that is making food that I might feed my daughter. I want to know as much as I can about their manufacturing procedures, labeling practices, etc. That kind of information is not present on a label. You have to contact a live human being and even then, it can be hard to get at what's really taking place. 

I typically use a phone call for a quick answer at the store, to see if it's even worth bringing home, but I try to use email as much as possible, to have a record of the response to which I can refer back and to give them time to research an answer. Many times, on the phone, they have to call me back, anyway, due to my questions about flax and sesame. 

I know that everyone's situation is different, but I just thought I'd share how I manage things, in case it can be of some help to others navigating this food-filled world! 


  1. This is the kind of piece that makes me delighted both to know food allergy Mom bloggers and not to be one. There's something about that sense of mission that I am happy to admire at a distance. Well done, Selena.

    1. Thank you, Henry, for taking a moment to comment on my post. Ah, the things we do for the ones we love!