Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Kudos for Kashi

Kashi is one of our favorite brands. It's healthy and natural, two requirements at our house. I'm also extremely impressed with their proactive stance on allergen research and labeling.

When I recently found out that just because a food company puts on a "may contain" statement (which is required by law for the top 8 allergens) on their label it doesn't mean that they are also stepping up and labeling their products as to whether they're "made on shared equipment with peanuts" or "made in a facility that also processes peanuts". Which, by the way, is not required by law.

After just reading a horrifying story of a child having a reaction after ingesting a common pantry staple manufactured by a very large, reputable company, I decided it was time to start contacting manufacturers that do not include a "made" statement for items in our pantry. Here is the link to the account of a child reacting to cake batter. This is particularly unsettling because we've used this cake mix on many occasions at our house.

I start with the manufacturer's website. Instead of calling, I e-mail. That way I have a response from the manufacturer in writing. I was very impressed with Kashi's information on peanut allergies, but still contacted them just to clarify. Here's the information from their site:

Our production lines are thoroughly cleaned between allergen containing products and we follow good manufacturing practices. We have validated (through testing) our allergen cleaning processes in all of our facilities. We are very concerned about food allergies and want to ensure that our products are safe for food allergic consumers to eat. Scientific evidence has shown that consumers with peanut and tree nut allergies can have a severe reaction to amounts that are below the current detectable limits based on existing technology. For this reason, we have chosen to warn consumers allergic to peanuts and tree nuts of the potential for extremely low levels by using a may contain statement.

Additionally for all other top 8 allergens, if the product contains the allergen, it will be listed below the ingredient statement. If it is not listed below the ingredient statement, we are confident that the product is safe for consumption. Please trust the labeling and continue to check it for any changes.

I wanted to verify that I read that statement correctly and that Kashi's labels would include peanuts and/or tree nuts if that product was manufactured on shared equipment. Here is portion of their e-mailed response:

First of all you are correct, if there is nothing labeled under the "may contain" line it is safe to eat.

We understand and share the concerns expressed by consumers who are affected by food allergies. We have been one of the leaders in the food industry in devising manufacturing processes to reduce the risk of allergens from contaminating allergen-free products. We have worked extensively with allergy organizations and research groups so that we understand the seriousness and complexities of food allergies.

All of our product packages have labeled the top eight potentially allergenic ingredients (i.e. peanut, tree nut, cow's milk, egg, soybean, wheat, fish and shellfish) in a separate box directly below the ingredient list on the Nutrition Facts side panel. Because product formulations can change at any time, we encourage our consumers to check the ingredient statement on each package they purchase for the most up-to-date information on the ingredients contained in that product.

So, Kashi will continue to be a favorite!

P.S. I didn't write this blog as a request from Kashi. I wrote it because I feel that companies have a responsibility to their consumers, and I think Kashi is living up to that responsibility and should be commended.


Paul said...

in addition to the Kashi cereal I like the Kashi fruit bars.

Julie Redfern said...

we love the Kashi bars too! they are easy to carry for snacks. Caroline likes the "chewy" ones and Will the "soft" bars. Glad that they are a good company.