With an eye on the food allergy community as a unique group of consumers since 2008, we're on a quest to find and share ways to continue enjoying the good things in life.


04 October 2008

Results of the Peanut-Free Definition Polls


Here are the results of our 7-day poll questions about the definition of peanut-free.  62 people responded to the first question and 46 responded to the second question.


Which is closest to your preferred definition of peanut-free food?
Food which does not include peanuts 1 (1%)
as an ingredient

Food which does not include peanuts 0 (0%)
as an ingredient  and is made in a 
dedicated room.

Food which does not include peanuts 12 (19%)
as an ingredient and is made on a
dedicated line.

Food which does not include peanuts   49 (79%)
as an ingredient and is made in a 
dedicated facility/building.

Which is an acceptable definition for "peanut-free"?
Food which does not include peanuts 0 (0%)
as an ingredient

Food which does not include peanuts 7 (15%)
as an ingredient  and is made on a 
dedicated line.

Food which does not include peanuts 5 (10%)
as an ingredient and is made in a
dedicated room.

Food which does not include peanuts   34 (73%)
as an ingredient and is made in a 
dedicated facility/building.

What do these results mean?  Of course, given the informal and unscientific nature of our poll, I'd be hesitant to draw any major conclusions from it.  We may be able to learn a few things from this exercise if we assume that the participants are representative of the greater food allergy community, and more specifically, the peanut allergic community.  At a minimum, it's a good starting place for discussion.

I think it's noteworthy that about 1/5 prefer "peanut-free" dedicated lines, and 1/4 of the respondents think that dedicated lines and/or dedicated rooms are acceptable. That is a sizable number! It seems, however, that the majority of respondents think "peanut-free" should mean food that does not contain peanuts as an ingredient and is made in a peanut-free facility/building.  That definition clearly was considered the most acceptable and preferred by the largest number of participants.  To put it another way, this seems to mean that when we see a label stating "peanut-free", most of us expect and hope that means the item not only doesn't contain peanuts but that it also is made in a peanut-free facility/building.  As we know, that's not always the case.  In fact, even the definition of the term "facility" is debatable!

We're just scratching the surface here, since peanut allergy is only one of a number of food allergies! What about dairy-free foods?  Or those food allergens that aren't in the top 8, like corn?  It's everywhere! Then there are the non-food uses of food allergens, like the much discussed Scotch-Brite sponges containing walnut shells.  What do you think?

If you haven't sent a comment to the FDA regarding voluntary advisory allergen labeling, there's still time to do so!  You have until January 14, 2009.  To submit your comment electronically, go to http://www.regulations.gov.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

The scotch brite sponge link does not work. Could you please post another link or let me know where to find it.

Thank you.

Jennifer B said...

Hmmm. That is odd! When I click on it, it works still. Well, here is the url: http://www.amazon.com/Scotch-Brite-Scrub-Sponge-Walnut-Shells/dp/B0015MO4F4

BTW, I learned about this sponge in discussions on two bulletin boards: Allergy Hyperboards and peanutallergy.com

Jenny said...

OMG--Thank you for the Scotch Brite info.

Who would ever think that walnuts would be in a cleaning sponge???

Thanks for your vigilance and the link to the FDA web site. We should all post a comment!!

Jennifer B said...

Thanks, Jenny. Jennifer at http://peanutfreegallery.blogspot.com/ has a funny post about the walnut sponge right now.

Connie said...

Thanks for your great blog!

I'm really curios about your last paragraph:
"If you haven't sent a comment to the FDA regarding voluntary advisory allergen labeling, there's still time to do so! You have until January 14, 2009. To submit your comment electronically, go to http://www.regulations.gov."

What can we comment on, and how?

Jennifer B said...

Hi connie! Thanks for your comment. Here is an article which gives a little background on the voluntary labeling hearing and consideration by FDA: http://marketplace.publicradio.org/display/web/2008/09/15/pm_allergies_labeling/

The voluntary labeling they are talking about is the "may contains traces" and the "made in a facility that uses..." statements.

Here is the link to the info from FDA about the hearing and where to submit comments (it's a bit lengthy!):
http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/~lrd/fr080808.html

Hope this info helps!

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