Saturday, January 30, 2010

Snow Day Requirement

It's snowing!  And, has been since yesterday afternoon!  We've had some sleet, but mostly, just snow.  It's wonderful.  Where we live in North Carolina, we often get freezing rain, but not inches of nice, powdery snow.   We're up to about 6 inches and counting.  It's been years since we've had this much.  The kids have already been outside and are now back in warming up.  Abigail's first request upon entering the house was for hot chocolate.

I didn't have any packets of hot cocoa so we improvised.  It actually turned out really good, and I don't mind at all that Abigail drank the whole mug.  I purchase organic chocolate soy milk for my 2 year old son to drink at lunch.  I heated a mug of the milk in the microwave for 45 seconds, stirred it and then heated it again for another 45 seconds.  Topped with a couple of marshmallows, it was not only a very rich cup of hot chocolate, but probably more nutritious than any of the powdered kind.

Recently, I contacted Nestle about their hot cocoa.  Abigail's class was having it for a treat one day at school, and I needed to find out if it was safe for her peanut allergy.  Here's an excerpt from their response:

There is no risk of peanut or tree nut contamination in our cocoa products.....

Factories that use a critical allergen as an ingredient take all precautions to avoid cross-contact of products that do not normally contain these allergens and products that do not carry a specific mention in the ingredient statement. Precautionary measures include efficient cleaning of production lines and equipment and strict separation of materials that may contain critical allergens. If an allergen does not appear on the ingredient statement, then it has not been added to the product and the likelihood of cross-contact is so extremely low that the risk is insignificant.

Please note that ingredients and manufacturing conditions can and do change. If you do need to pay attention to allergens in your diet, we strongly encourage you to always check the product label and the list of ingredients.

Now that I know I can just heat up our organic soy milk, I won't be purchasing any more "snow day" packets of cocoa mix. They're too "processed" anyway. But, I do have a question.  How do you moms that have kids with life-threatening nut allergies, or you adults with an allergy, feel about that statement "the likelihood of cross-contact is so extremely low that the risk is insignificant"?  I ask because I feel it's a "CYA" statement from Nestle.  But mostly, I ask because when I initially read the statement, my first thought was that any risk was too much.  I then started thinking that I'm just being over-the-top cautious (and many would think I was).  In this case, I let Abigail drink the hot chocolate at school, but I did so hesitantly.  So, if you have an allergy in your household, I'd really like to hear your opinion.  Too risky? Or not?

One side note for purchasers of soy milk.  The "Silk" brand soy milk is no longer organic.  Dean Foods, the new owner of the "Silk" brand removed the "organic" label on the packaging without alerting the public.  They state on their website, that the "Silk" product is not made with genetically modified soybeans, however there is a large movement in the organic community to boycott this brand.  Organizations like the The Cornucopia Institute are stating that Dean Foods are using conventional soy beans from China, not disclosing important information and are purposely trying to confuse consumers.  Something to consider.

For those of you with snow...hope you are having fun too!


Anonymous said...

The "CYA Statement" is one area we're still trying to figure out!

Maybe I'm still naive about PA's since we're still new to PA's (9 mo. into it), but I tend to stick with name brands bcs they would be more cautious w/their labeling. If it's not labeled w/a peanut warning and it's not candy, etc., then I usually will give it to DS (like w/the hot chocolate packets, yeah, I'd give it to him...but I make my own anyway w/Hershey's cocoa. Also, I would only give him the packet from a box that I saw opened that day not random loose packets on a table like at a hotel breakfast)!

DS ate M&M's, yogurt raisins and Quaker's rice cakes religiously for months. It wasn't until he ate real PB that he had an anaphylactic reaction and it wasn't until after that that we realized those foods "may contain peanuts" (and he had been eating them ok all along). So, we've been torn about what to do and if he only reacts to just straight out peanuts/pb.

DH's main staple is pb and he would eat pb sandwiches and hold DS when he was a newborn and DS grew up around pb and DH licking his fingers and holding DS, etc. I would wipe off a pb knife w/a napkin and then use it to cut DS's apples or fruit before we knew of his PA. Without a doubt, DS "grew up" with cross-contamination and was ok.

We tend to err on the safe side of things and definitely stay away from things w/a labeled warning. But, if there is no allergy warning and it's a name brand product, it depends on on the situation, how it's handled, etc. If I have to question if it's safe or feel any unease inside (mommy intuition?), I won't give it to DS.

I know this doesn't really help answer your question but I wonder if it depends on the child and past experiences?? It's one of those gray areas and I've noticed so many moms hold fast to different guidelines--some are stricter and some are more lenient--when it comes to allergies even in our playgroups. So, it is hard to figure out what to do!

Enjoy that snow!! We have 13" up here in VA! Unfortunately, my child has come down w/walking pneumonia so we're not able to go play in it! But, we've had our share of snow juice (snow and apple juice) and it's been a great way to keep him hydrated! ;)

Paul said...

snow days are great! and I love 'em.
U Paul

Julie Redfern said...

so jealous that you guys have so much snow! We don't have any up here!

Anonymous said...

greetings! I believe this is the first time I leave a comment. My daughter, age 4, also has peanut allergy. We live in a 99.9% peanut free house and I will not even babysitter bring any food in. (my comfort zone is so tight I even tell them if they ever visit the restaurants that has peanut shells all over the floor, do not wear that same pair of shoes here)
That said, we stick with brands we are comfortable with, a statement like the one you posted here is enough for me, I will let my daughter have it. But if they do listed made in peanut facility, I will not use.
It's tricky, and there are days I feel brave and there are days, I just want to put her in a bubble.
Good luck.

Mom with a Mission said...

MaNut and Jenny, you guys are so right. It really is a case by case decision and a lot of it is based on intuition. Would be helpful if there was a set labeling guideline based on manufacturing practices, i.e., if the same production line is used, then these labeling terms have to be on the packaging, and so forth.

I've been doing some research and have found a study where they tested products labeled with the risk of cross-contamination to see how many actually had traces of peanuts. I'm hoping to post on that next week.

Thanks so much for the comments!

ZM said...

About two years ago, we asked the same question for the umpteenth time - this time, we asked a new allergy team. They started talking to us about brands that have better or worse track records regarding x-tam. And they left us still with the grey area, still the judgement call, but now thinking about what GMP means.

I tend to ask about the details of cleaning procedures, and whether the big 8-free run is done first that day, and whether they do batch testing for x-tam, and if so, when? Before a complaint? For each batch?

What's perhaps unfair here is that, to some degree, I'm judging a company based on how educated their customer service people are. But on the other hand, if the company cares about getting the allergy thing right, then the customer service people would know the deal, yes?

Hopefully, yes.