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.

29 November 2008

Maybe Not So Food Allergy Friendly After All

Jakks Pacific Girl Gourmet Cupcake Maker
Not too long ago, I came across a press release for what I thought was a "food allergy friendly toy" and wrote about it here.  It seemed great that a toy was created with food allergic children in mind.  I even posted about it elsewhere, like peanutallergy.com. On the one hand, I am disturbed that I helped propagate the impression that the toy is food allergy friendly when it may not be. On the other hand, I am glad I posted about it because it instigated a useful discussion. Peanut Free Mama pointed out that there was some conflicting and concerning information on the package which raised questions about cross-contamination!

A question about cross-contamination was disturbing, especially considering the press release presented the toy as suitable for those with nut allergies and celiac disease. I telephoned and emailed the manufacturer. The information I received was less than crystal clear. It certainly was not the reassurance parents of food allergic children desire or need. Based on the manufacturer's statements, it seems there are no nuts in the factory or the mixes. If one assumes that "nuts" in this context means peanuts and tree nuts, the mixes possibly may be safe for peanut and nut allergic individuals. The information on cross-contamination is even less clear with regard to gluten content. It appears that gluten and wheat are not ingredients but that the mixes are manufactured on equipment that handles gluten and/or wheat. The one thing that is certain is that Jakks' allergen information is not as clear as it should be. It should not take multiple emails and group discussion to decipher a product's allergen information.

Do any of you have the Girl Gourmet Cupcake Maker? What have you discovered regarding food allergens in the Girl Gourmet mixes? What's your take on it?


Jenny said...

As you illustrate with this problem in labeling, the labels are just all over the place. It's hard to know what to believe. My biggest pet peeve is a company that claims to be allergy-friendly--when it's anything but.

You didn't do anything wrong by promoting this product--how could you have known? In fact, by posting about this initially you helped uncover a potential allergen problem.

Let us know what happens with this. Thanks for your efforts in trying to contact this company. No doubt they're scrambling trying to figure out some response.

Anonymous said...

Scary, it's hard to trust companies with our children's health. This is great info, thanks!

ElleMo said...

My daughter received this for Christmas and the refill package has seriously confusing wording. (I have emailed you a scan.) After Googling and reading your blog & some message boards, it appears that the manufacturer is aware people are confused by the labeling, yet I can find no official reaction from the Jakks Pacific. Nothing from them stating that the products are safe -- or even unsafe. I am so angry at this company. My friend went out of her way to get this because she saw it was "peanut-free." I was so very touched by that. And this company, knowing about the confusion that exists, doesn't have the decency to notify customers -- in clear unambiguous language -- whether or not this product is safe.

Unknown said...

ElleMo, thanks for commenting. I also think a press release clarifying the different labeling on old packages versus new packages would have been helpful. I can see that someone located at Food-Tek, developer of the Girl Gourmet mixes, does visit Food Allergy Buzz from time to time. I hope they will read your comment.

Please consider also writing to Jakks directly about this. I think the squeaky wheel will eventually get the oil--we need food manufacturers (even for toys) to understand that we depend on accurate labels to keep our children safe! These conflicting labels just make it confusing.