Sunday, March 20, 2011

Rita's Ice - Celebrate the 1st Day of Spring

We've never been to Rita's or eaten a Rita's Italian Ice or Custard, but I have several friends with food allergic children that have been to a Rita's.  I did a little research on the company's website, and they do have a great allergen labeling policy. What was an immediate concern is that they offer "Mix-Ins" for their custards.  Mix-Ins include Reese's Pieces, Reese's Cups, M&M's, Heath Bars, Oreos and Nilla Wafers.  It's no news to you guys that the majority of these items are taboo for our peanut allergic children.  Up goes the red flag.

On a food allergy message board, I posted a question as to whether other moms with peanut allergic children have been to Rita's and asked their opinion as to whether they thought it was a safe place to eat.  I found out that these mix-ins are fairly new and are kept covered in separate storage containers.  There is also lots of signage stating their allergen policies.  One mom says she does go there with her peanut allergic daughter and they stick to the Italian Ice flavors.  The mix-ins weren't near the ice flavors.

So, it sounds like a place that might be worth checking out.  And, today might be the day to do it.  Rita's is celebrating the first day of spring by giving away a free regular size Italian Ice.  We'll be packing and moving today (more about that later) so it's not on our agenda, but maybe one of you guys could check it out and report back on your experience.  Or, if you've been in the past...what did you think?  Would you recommend it for children and adults with severe food allergies?  I'm still on the fence.  After all, the peanut product toppings for the McFlurry is one of the main reasons we stopped going to McDonald's (link to that post).  Is one food establishment okay and another not?


Lisa said...

Hmm. I don't see any difference between Rita's and McDonald's in this realm...both are offering toppings with peanut so the risk to me is the same, regardless of how they label it. Unless the toppings are in sealed packages, I would assume a risk for cross-contamination exists.
Now, with that being said, we continue to eat at McDonald's on occasion. However, my son is too young to really eat much there anyway, so he really isn't eating anything more than a little bit of hashbrown or a french fry.

Anonymous said...

Rita's recently (last year?) added a Chocolate Peanut Butter Italian ice flavor. With how the Italian ice is made (all flavors go through the same machine), I don't feel comfortable having my peanut allergic child eat any of the Italian ice flavors. It's way too risky. :(

Mom with a Mission said...

Thanks for the update. I had heard rumblings from another group that I'm a member of that there were some changes to the menu. I believe I remember them saying that they were disappointed that a previously safe place was no longer safe. One member of that group called her local Rita's and the manager said that if they called ahead, they would make accommodations for the peanut allergy. Don't remember what those were, but she was impressed with the response. Might be worth checking into.

Just another example of why it's always important to check the labels regardless of how many times you've purchased a product. Ingredients and menu changes occur all the time!

Thanks again!

Anonymous said...

my son is allergic to peanuts and DID have a reaction to ices there - peanut free ices...beware!!!

Mom with a Mission said...

Thanks so much for sharing your son's experience. So sorry to hear that he did have a reaction. This is an older post written prior to Rita's introducing peanut flavors. Your comment is much appreciated.