I thought it might be helpful for you if I shared how our family handles checking on ingredients and cross-contamination risk.
To be honest, I’ve been hesitant to write about this for fear of being judged. We do use some items that have a shared facility warning. We also know that the warning isn’t a requirement. Labeling laws in the United States are a post (correction, giant rant) for a different day. I don’t email about every single product Ollie eats. We have discussed this with Ollie’s doctor and have a plan that works for our family. That’s all I urge you to do.
With his long list of allergies, it would be nearly impossible to avoid all shared lines, facilities etc. The doctor went over lists of what foods are considered most high risk in terms of cross-contamination for each of Ollie’s allergens. We always keep this in mind when deciding how far we need to take the research on a product. We have brands we know and love. You can be guaranteed I know all there is to know about those. If we’re trying something new, I usually reach out to the company first. At a minimum, I scour their website, Facebook food allergy groups, and the actual label. If we use something that has a shared warning, I ask about cleaning and testing.
I know that by law there is no difference in the label, but we don’t use anything that says “may contain.” In my head, if a company willingly puts a “may contain” statement on, it carries more weight. Again, I recognize that in actuality there could be no difference between a “may contain” warning and a “made on the same equipment” warning. It’s just what we do.
This has worked well for us so far. Some days, I’m totally good with it. Other days, I read about families who do no cross-contamination risk at all and start to really question myself. I feel like a terrible parent for not doing that for Ollie. I wonder if I should cut out half the things he’s eating in case the company didn’t give me all the right details or I didn’t ask for them. Sometimes, I even question things that I have checked on. When is the last time I re-checked? Companies don’t have to disclose when they change where they manufacture something or what else is nearby.
In reality, unless you inquire about every product, every time, there might always be some level of cross-contamination risk. For a while, that terrified me. It really did. I also knew it wasn’t manageable. I’m already an anxious person. I would give myself a nervous breakdown if I called about every single thing every time. I also probably couldn’t have a job… Then how would we pay for those really expensive things I was calling about?
Yet another vicious cycle for an allergy parent. I always try to bring myself back to all we’ve discussed with his doctor and the fact that he’s yet to have a reaction when following this plan. His doctor has gone so far as to say that perhaps this means he can tolerate some teeny tiny minute amount. Given how his food challenges have gone so far, I try not to get my hopes up. You have to do what works for you. Furthermore, we have an emergency plan in place. We have epinephrine with us at all times in the form of both EpiPens and AuviQs. We understand the signs of anaphylaxis and practice and know what to do. This is the ultimate line of defense and protection.
This is what works for us. Some days it works really well and other days it really weighs on me. I’m sure you understand that. I’d love to hear what works for you. I love learning from families who follow some of the same “rules” and those who don’t. All we can all do is learn from and support each other. What works best for you?