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.

20 August 2018

Food Allergy Consumer Perspective: Safe and Fair for Some, Insensitive to All

On July 20, 2018, Grain's Chicago Business published an article entitled "Could allergy-friendly be the next gluten-free? These food companies think so". While I am glad to see an article focused on manufacturers whose prime consumer base is people with food allergies, I could not have been more disappointed by what I read about Safe + Fair

"Safe + Fair, a line of allergy-safe cookies, macaroni and cheese and cake mixes focuses on eliminating merely the main culprits. Its chocolate chip cookies, for example, are free of the most common allergen, peanuts, plus tree nuts, but they do contain wheat, soy and egg." Note dairy or milk is not even mentioned. Yet in some studies, it is dairy allergy that is the most common in children, not peanuts, and for adults, it is shellfish. At a minimum, it is safe to say the jury is still out on which allergy is most common.

Then there is the use of the term "allergy-safe" in the article. "Allergy-safe" is a term which is confusing at best, and could be dangerously confusing for those managing allergies that are not Safe + Fair's focus. Terms like "allergy-safe" and "school safe" can lead to errors by well meaning caregivers, thinking it means safe for all food allergies. Actually, the manufacturer's name Safe + Fair is itself confusing in the same way. 

But these aspects are not the most concerning part of the article focused on Safe + Fair. No. It is this quote from Mr. Holsworth, the CEO: "If you have a peanut allergy, you want to eat as much gluten and dairy as you can--you have no empathy for the other allergies...You already have to give up a huge subset of food." Not only are his words offensive but they are also inaccurate. My son has peanut and tree nut allergies. There are so few foods that he is unable to eat; there is no "huge subset" of food he has had to give up or avoid. In fact, peanuts and tree nuts are not ingredients in many foods, except for baked goods and desserts. Furthermore, my son does not seek out or crave gluten and dairy or any other ingredients as a result of his allergies, and I have never heard of any children or adults with peanut and/or nut allergies wanting to eat as much gluten and dairy as they can. Many are quite happy to eat top-8 free products and many do not even seek products from dedicated facilities. Where is Mr. Holsworth getting his information? Furthermore, suggesting people who have peanut and nut allergies have no empathy for other allergies is truly offensive. In fact, people with food allergies, regardless of the specific food, all share a common enemy--anaphylaxis. People with food allergies have a certain set of precautions they all need to take to prevent reactions. People with peanut and tree nut allergies "get" other food allergies better than the general public might because they understand what it is like to live with a life threatening food allergy. His comment is a slap in the face to people like my son and shows little sensitivity for people with additional food allergies.

Based on the sentiments expressed by Mr. Holsworth, it seems Safe + Fair is not interested in creating "a more inclusive community for all." The article certainly does not paint a picture of Safe + Fair as allergy friendly, as Mr. Holsworth's words certainly were not friendly or considerate to people with any food allergy. One would hope a manufacturer would think a bit better of their own target consumer base. Skeeter Snacks was a friendly company. 

No comments: