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Hands up: who had the jitters before their child started school? I did. Would he enjoy it? Would he make friends? Would the staff teach him well? Would he accidentally eat peanut? Would he have a severe allergic reaction? Would the staff spot it and administer the EpiPen in time?

As the parent of a child with a life threatening food allergy, you have all the regular starting school nerves, with a few extras thrown in. Whilst location and OFSTED ratings might be important, top of your wish list is a school that is allergy savvy. Reaction is the 4th R your child can well do without.

My son (D) started Reception class in September 2014. He had anaphylaxis (a life threatening allergic reaction) to peanut aged 20 months, which resulted in a week in hospital, with four days in intensive care. Since diagnosis, it feels like we have, slowly but surely, been getting more and more of a grip on his allergy: building confidence at playgroups, playdates and parties. Although he went to nursery, for me, school seemed a much more daunting prospect. He was leaving the safe bubble of his preschool room, where everyone’s food was prepared by the nursery cook, to run among 300 other children in the playground, many of whom have packed lunches, who could offer him a potentially lethal snack they had in their pocket.

Despite my initial worries, our first year went very smoothly. Here are the measures we put in place with our school, and the unexpected challenges which cropped up:

Doing your homework before school starts

Before we started, an allergy nurse impressed on me the importance of parents working with the school. So, at the end of the summer term before he started, we met with my son’s new teachers and the head of the kitchen team. This gave us the opportunity to fully explain his allergies and to learn about the safeguarding procedures the school would put in place.

On top of labelling uniform, my holiday homework included:

  • Obtaining an up-to-date allergic reaction action plan from the hospital.
  • Putting together two sets of emergency medication (for D, this included an EpiPen, inhaler and spacer and antihistamine). One set would be kept in D’s classroom, the other in the staff room.
  • Making a note of the various expiry dates, so I could provide replacements when needed.

I also followed a fellow nut mum’s advice of drumming into D two key rules: 1. only eat your own food and 2. tell a teacher if you ever feel unwell. We did this by “playing school”, with me pretending to be a friend offering round sweets and him saying “no thank you”. Despite this, I know that, at the point he started Reception, we were not 100% there. At one party, I had to pry a piece of cake out of his hand, whilst being told (indignantly) that it was fine for him, as it wasn’t from a friend, “Batman gave it to me”. At another, when he had to turn down chocolate, I was again mean mummy in his eyes, as he HAD checked with his (4-year-old) friend, who had promised it didn’t have nuts in. These incidents make me very grateful that our school has a nut free policy and lunchtime assistants who police the “no swaps” rule.

Nut free policy

Opinions differ on whether schools should be nut free. My view is that a nut ban is appropriate in a primary school where a pupil has a life threatening allergy. Yes, the real world isn’t nut free: but he wouldn’t be left to fend for himself in the real world aged 4. While it may not be practical to ban all allergens, if the school can safeguard at least some allergic children, that must be a good thing.

Word of warning: if your school has a nut free policy, make sure it’s publicised, for example in the school newsletter. As well as packed lunches, the nut free policy needs to cover things like coffee mornings and cake sales.

Allergy training and action plan

You need to know that ALL school staff know about your child’s allergy (and they would be able to recognise an allergic reaction, locate his medical kit, administer the EpiPen and call an ambulance).

For our school, the school nurse trains all staff annually on how to deal with an anaphylaxis emergency. When my son started, she ensured the procedures followed the latest version of his allergic reaction action plan.

School dinners

Before starting school, I assumed D would have packed lunches. However, he has been able to have school dinners. Our council has a “no nuts” policy and the school kitchen team double check the ingredients and for “may contain nuts” warnings. The school’s other safeguarding measures include:

  • All lunchtime staff know who D is (his photo is on the kitchen wall, with details of his allergies).
  • The lunchtime staff wipe down his table before he sits down to eat.
  • D goes first in the lunch queue, which reduces the cross contamination risk if one of the meals that day is something that “may contain nuts”.
  • A “no swaps” rule.

Safe treats box

Birthdays, Halloween, Christmas, Easter, end of term, someone’s been on holiday, someone’s mum has been baking… in the first term especially it seemed that every other day the children would emerge with treats. A “safe treats box” has worked really well for us: whenever there are class treats, a teacher gives D a nut free alternative from his box.

Chocolate coins in Christmas cards were a new one on me. D comes out of school with a card, opens it up and out pops a coin. Again, I’m mean mummy for taking it off him. He was even less impressed when Father Christmas himself was handing out chocolate “may contain nuts” coins at the Christmas Fair (“doesn’t he know I can’t eat nuts?”). Likewise, lots of children emerge from the classroom and grab a snack from their mums. This has all got easier as the year has gone on and I’ve been able to let the mums know about D’s nut allergy. Stress reducing tip: have some safe goodies in your own bag!

Unexpected dangers in the classroom

So, the school staff are allergy aware and EpiPen trained, there’s a nut free policy and the school dinners are nut safe. Where are the unexpected risk areas? These are the ones we’ve encountered so far:

  • Water fountains – D has his own labelled water bottle, which hopefully another child won’t use by mistake.
  • The home corner and junk modelling – school have made sure there are no packets from nutty foods.
  • Musical instruments – this hasn’t arisen yet, but we’ve discussed with school that, when it does, D would need his own recorder.
  • Cookery activities – each time D’s class do an activity involving food, his teacher runs through the ingredients with me beforehand.

School trips

Whenever D goes out of school (for example, to a church service or on a trip), his teachers carry a set of his meds. For added peace of mind, I have so far been able to volunteer as a parent helper on school trips (however, he might not be so keen for me to do this as he gets older). One of the bonuses of free school meals is that, for school trips, his classmates all have nut free packed lunches prepared by the school kitchen.

Out-of-school clubs

One aspect I’ve found challenging is out-of-school activities. D has been able to attend a holiday football course, which was run by a teacher. However, I tend to volunteer as a helper at events such as after school film shows or end of term parties, which are run by fellow parents. If his dad or I weren’t available to help out, this is one thing he’d have to miss out on.

End of year report

Preparing for starting school took extra leg work behind the scenes. To begin with, you have to think through all the risk areas and organise medical kits, action plans, safe treats boxes. Then, throughout the year, you are liaising with the school and going along (when you can) to after school activities and the various trips. However, I can vouch that there are confidence-inspiring schools out there. In some ways, our first year has been better than expected: I never thought D would have school lunches or that I would be able to drop him off at a holiday club.

In fact, the biggest challenges have been the social life that comes alongside school: playdates and parties. Suddenly your child’s social circle expands and you’re faced with taking a deep breath and saying “he’d love to come … and that date sounds fine … but I just need to let you know about his peanut allergy … and how are you with using an EpiPen?”. I’m hoping these occasions will become less stressful too, as he gets older and knows to say no thank you if someone offers him food. Even if that someone is Batman.

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Here we go again: time for a nut free Easter egg hunt! Easter Sunday this year is 27 March 2016, so the countdown is on for tracking down nut safe versions of Easter goodies.

This year is the first year that my son (now 5) has gone into Easter aware of the chocolates he, usually, can and can’t have. Cue excitement when he spots a Galaxy egg … cue me explaining that, although plain Galaxy is usually safe, alas the large eggs are “may contain nuts”. Ditto for the Cadbury creme giant egg. Ditto for Maltesers. Ditto for Smarties. His response? “Awww, not fair!”. I’m inclined to agree.

However, luckily, my son and daughter are still firmly in the Star Wars and Frozen zone, so I’ve opted for Kinnerton again this year (see main picture). With stormtrooper and Frozen Fever Kinnerton eggs in our local B&M for £2.99 each, it really would have been rude not to!

I’ve listed below the other nut free Easter chocolates I’ve seen so far, including those recommended by fellow nut mums and dads on the Nutmums facebook page (thanks everyone!). Please do post a comment below with any more recommendations.

As ever, please do check the labels each time and contact the manufacturer if you are at all unsure whether something is safe.

Cadbury

If you look at the Cadbury website, they’ve got 15 Easter products listed as at 25 February. When you apply their nut and peanut filters, the choice shrinks to two: the regular Creme Eggs
and Creme Mini Filled Eggs.  (NB. the “Mini Eggs” – the little ones in the shells – are “may contain nuts”.)

Cadbury creme eggCadbury creme mini filled egg

(Images courtesy of Cadbury)

The Cadbury site doesn’t (as at 25 February) list the company’s range of large chocolate eggs. However, having read the product descriptions for the Cadbury eggs on Ocado, I am yet to come across one which is not “may contain nuts”. If anyone knows of a large, nut safe Cadbury egg, do post a comment, I’d love to hear from you…

Cadbury National Trust egg hunt

(Image courtesy of Cadbury)

Cadbury are supplying the National Trust and National Trust for Scotland Easter Egg hunts this year. I’ve tweeted to ask which Cadbury products are used. It would be nice if the prizes weren’t “may contain nuts” and the hunts are indeed a place for everyone.

Campervan Cookies

Nut free Campervan Cookies card

(Image courtesy of Campervan Cookie Co)

Campervan Cookie Co has a selection of awesome looking Easter cookie cards, which can all be personalised. Their website states that their “products are made in a nut-free environment”.

“Choices” by Celtic Chocolates

Choices Easter bunny

(Image courtesy of Free From For Kids)

Celtic Chocolates do not use nuts in their factory and none of their ingredients contain nuts. A selection of their Easter eggs and Easter bunnies are available online from Free From For Kids and Holland & Barrett.

Cocoa Libre

Cocoa Libre easter chicks

(Image courtesy of Cocoa Libre)

Cocoa Libre have gift packs of 10 rice milk chocolate chicks available online.

D&D Chocolates

DandD nut free Easter egg basket

(Image courtesy of D&D)

D&D Chocolates produce dairy free chocolate and carob, with their website confirming that “All our products are handmade on nut free premises”. The Easter range this year includes eggs, mini eggs, lollies, bunny shapes, fondant egg halves, plus a selection of Easter baskets filled with goodies.

Galaxy

Galaxy golden eggs - Nut Free Mini Chocolate Easter Eggs

(Image courtesy of The Grocer)

Mars has launched Galaxy golden mini eggs for this Easter (for details, see article in The Grocer – and thanks also to Jess for posting about this on Facebook). I’ve spied them on sale at our local Co-op and the golden mini eggs did not have a nut warning (however, the Galaxy caramel mini eggs did).

Haribo

Haribo are selling bags of jelly chick, bunny and lamb shapes this year (see Haribo Easter Hunt Multi Pack).

Holland & Barrett

Holland & Barrett have a dairy free Good Egg “for those seeking to avoid dairy, gluten and nuts” – check out the no added sugar version too.

 Jelly Bunnies

Bassetts jelly bunnies

(Image courtesy of Free From For Kids)

Bassetts are making jelly babies in the shape of bunnies this year. Thanks to Lucy for this tip – who has seen them in Co-Op. They are also available online at Free From for Kids.

Kinder

Certain Kinder products appear safe, for example:

However, some products (such as the Kinder mini eggs) contain hazelnut.

Kinnerton

Kinnerton’s range of nut safe Easter eggs and chocolates this year includes Peppa Pig, Avengers, Match of the Day, Paw Patrol, Shopkins, Super 4, Frozen, Me to You (that teddy with the blue nose!), Star Wars, Thomas and The Simpsons.

Kinnerton is stocked in Tesco, Sainsburys, Asda, Morrisons, Mothercare and Wilkinson. Joanne has spotted a good range in her local Asda – including a Gogglebox egg (see pictures below – thanks Joanne!). My local B&M and Poundland stores tend to be good, and I’ve spotted a Peppa Pig egg hunt bag on Ocado

Joanne Easter Gogglebox and MOTD

Joanne Kinnerton selection

I’ve heard from Mark (thank you!) that Iceland have Kinnerton lightsaber tubes filled with foiled mini eggs. On a Star Wars note, if anyone spots these stormtrooper chocolates in a shop, please do let me know! [Note added: I’ve heard from Diane that ToysRUs stocked the stormtrooper chocolates at Christmas.]

Kinnerton Easter nut free net of stormtroopers

(Image courtesy of Kinnerton)

Finally, if none of the character eggs appeal to your child, Candice’s top tip is to remove the outer packet and put the eggs inside cardboard eggs from Ikea, filling any gaps with sweets.

Magnum eggs

B&M Magnum easter egg

(Image courtesy of B&M)

Big thank you to Angela who has posted that both B&M and Iceland have (nut safe) versions of Magnum Easter eggs this year.

The Ocado Magnum Signature Chocolate Egg with Bars also appears nut safe from the online product description.

Malteser (made by Mars)

As with Cadbury Creme Eggs, with the “Malteaster” range, the nut status varies from product to product. Whilst the Malteaster Bunny 5 pack lists only egg as a “may contain”, the Malteaster Luxury Easter Egg, for example, may contain nuts.

Marmite

Marmite easter egg

Yes, really! The Daily Mail has reported that Unilever has partnered with Kinnerton on a Marmite Easter egg. Available from Ocado. (Thanks Angela!).

Nut Free Chocolate People

Nut Free Chocolate People make “Delicious chocolates without any nuts or nut traces”, available to order from their website. Check out their Easter page to see their range of eggs (in milk, dark, orange, mint, without soya, and white chocolate) plus a selection of Easter themed chocolates.

Nut Free Chox

Nut Free Chox have Easter lollies, jars of Easter chick- or egg- patterned buttons, and orange filled half Easter eggs – see their Seasonal page for details.

Plamil

Plamil dairy free bunny bar

(Image courtesy of Plamil)

Plamil products are made in their “own factory which never uses dairy, gluten or nuts”. For Easter 2016, they have full Easter eggs and half eggs, plus chocolate bunny bars.

Sainsbury’s

Sainsbury’s Freefrom Chocolate Easter Egg and Freefrom White Chocolate Egg are each described online as “egg, gluten, wheat and milk free” and appear nut safe from the online product description.

Prestat – for those avoiding peanut only

Prestat may be worth a look if you are only avoiding peanut. Their website (and the Ocado product description for their Prestat London Gin Egg ) states “Our kitchens handle many ingredients including cream (milk), nuts, gluten, eggs and flour so even products that do not contain these as ingredients may contain traces of them. We do Not use any genetically modified ingredients and we do not have peanuts in any products”.

Special Edition Chocolate

Special Edition Chocolate have a range of handmade Easter eggs, bunnies, hens and chicks available to order online.

Special Edition Chocolate nut free Easter bunnies

(Image courtesy of Special Edition Chocolate)

Tasha’s Dairy Free Delights

Tasha’s Dairy Free Delights has a range of handmade Easter chocolates using Plamil’s “Lots of this, none of that” chocolate.

Tesco Help for Heroes egg

Help for Heroes Easter egg

Tesco has a Help for Heroes egg – from which they will donate 100% of profits from the sale price to the Help for Heroes charity. (Thanks again, Angela!)

Vermont Nut Free Chocolates

Vermont Nut Free Chocolates sell “gourmet chocolates guaranteed safe for those with any nut or peanut allergy”. They have a wide selection of Easter eggs and chocolates, and what’s more, they ship world wide (thank you Elaine for this top tip!)

Waitrose

Waitrose and Ocado are selling the Woodland Friends Easter egg hunt box again this year.

Are there any more?

As ever, if I’ve missed any, please do spread the word by posting a comment below. Happy Easter everyone!

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My 5-year-old son’s ideal year would be one week long, comprising Easter, his birthday, Halloween and Christmas Day. And repeat. No sooner has he reached the bottom of his Santa sack, he’s asking me when it’s time for Easter eggs. By Easter Monday, he’s fixating on the guest list for his birthday party … and his birthday’s not until August.

Christmas, Easter, birthdays and Halloween demand a fair amount of time and attention in any family with small children. However, that’s even more true in food allergy families, who have the added organisational challenge of tracking down free from versions of cakes, chocolates and treats.

So, now Halloween’s out of the way, it’s time for me to embark on the annual search for nut free Christmas food. Here’s a list of the nut free Christmas goodies I have spied so far this year. Thanks everyone, for all the recommendations already posted on the Nutmums Facebook page – top of my Christmas list are the Wilkinsons chocolate coins spotted by Cheryl (see below). I’ll keep adding to this page as I hear of any more nut free Christmas treats.

As ever, please check the labels for yourself each time and contact the manufacturer if you are in any doubt whether something is safe.

Nut free advent calendars

  • D and D

The D&D website states that “all our products are produced in a totally nut free, dairy free and gluten free unit”. They sell both advent calendars and advent chocolates.

  • Kinnerton

Kinnerton, the king of nut free character confectionery, promise that all of their ” yummy creations … go nowhere near a nut at any time in our factory”.  This year they have advent calendars in Peppa Pig, Avengers, Inside Out, Doc McStuffins, Frozen, Hello Kitty, Me To You bear, Star Wars, Thomas, Superman and Batman, and The Simpsons.

I grabbed Star Wars and Frozen calendars when I spotted them in Matalan recently. The kiddos should be happy with this … unless they see these light up versions, which Kinnerton have introduced this year:

Kinnerton nut free light up advent calendars

(Image courtesy of Kinnerton.com)

  • Nut Free Chocolate People

Last year, I splashed out on a wooden advent calendar. I will be filling it again with advent chocolates from Nut Free Chocolate People. (If you are tempted to do the same, do check their cut off date for advent orders!)

  • Plamil

All Plamil products are “dairy free and gluten free, and produced in [their] own ‘no nuts’ factory”. Dairy free advent calendars available to order from their website.

Nut free chocolate coins

  • John Lewis

From the John Lewis website, the chocolate coins from Albert Premier Chocolaterie look nut safe. In previous years, John Lewis have also sold nut free coins from the Chocolate Alchemist, which were nut free. I’ll report back if I spy these in store!

  • Chocolates for Chocoholics

Their website states:

“RECIPE: NO NUTS          FACTORY: NO NUTS

HOWEVER THERE IS AN INFINITESIMAL (TEENY WEENY) CHANCE OF CROSS CONTAMINATION”

If that doesn’t put you off, they have bags of coins, a teddy bauble and a tree and wreath cracker.

  • Nut Free Chocolate People 

NFCP have bags of 6 chocolate coins, which can be hung as a Christmas tree decoration.

  • Wilkinsons

I have it on good authority that Wilkinsons chocolate coins are nut-safe (50p a bag, 3 varieties) – see photo below. Thank you so much Cheryl for this top tip and photo – I’m part of the stampede for this one!

Wilkinsons nut free chocolate coins

Nut free selection boxes & boxed chocolates

  • Kinnerton

Kinnerton also do selection boxes for some of their character lines. Their website states that they are stocked in Tesco, Sainsburys, Asda, Morrisons, Mothercare and Wilkinson. I tend to find their goodies in local garden centres and discount stores – this year, I bought their Star Wars and Frozen 9 piece selection boxes from my local Poundland. If you can’t find them offline, Amazon are also worth a try.

  • Nut Free Chocolate People

NFCP sell boxes of 12 or 24 nut free chocolates.

Nut Free Chocolate People christmas chocolates

(Image courtesy of Nutfreechocolatepeople.com)

Nut free tree decorations

  • D and D

D&D sell dairy free Christmas tree decorations in packs of six.

  • Nut Free Chocolate People

Nut Free Chocolate People sell chocolate filled baubles and foil wrapped chocolate coins.

  • Tasha’s Dairy Free Delights

Tasha’s Dairy Free Delights has a range of handmade Christmas chocolates. Tasha’s use Plamil, and will soon be using Plamil’s “Lots of this, None of that” chocolate (which they explain is also soya free). I understand that you can specify your choice of chocolate, when you place your order. Check out their Christmas tree decorations here.

Other nut free Christmas chocolates and sweets

  • Cadbury

The Cadbury website now allows you to filter by both “peanut-absent” and “nut-absent”.  The Christmas products aren’t showing at the time of writing … but one to keep an eye on.

Cadbury Snowbites are now available on Ocado – nut safe according to the product description.

  • Choices by Celtic Chocolates

Celtic Chocolates do not use nuts in their factory and none of their ingredients contain nuts. Their dairy free chocolate santa and white chocolate santa are available online from Free From For Kids.

  • Cocoa Libre

Cocoa Libre make dairy free chocolates which are “also wheat, gluten and nut free and suitable for coeliacs and vegans”. Louise, founder of Cocoa Libre, recently posted on the nut free chocolate page that:

“My husband is allergic to peanuts! I have had all my products lab tested to make sure they are completely free of traces so you can enjoy in confidence!”.

They now have rice milk chocolate penguins and dark mint chocolate penguins in stock.

Cocoa Libre nut free chocolate penguins

(Image courtesy of Cocoalibre.co.uk)

  • D and D

D&D Chocolates have a range of Christmas products, in chocolate or carob, that are nut-, dairy- and gluten free.

  • Kinder

From their Ocado product descriptions Kinder Mini Mix, Kinder Santa and Kinder Christmas bars all appear safe.

  • Kinnerton

Check out the Kinnerton website to search for products by character. Amazon also have Kinnerton chocolate satsumas. Oh, and, if you are after a white chocolate Olaf, Asda is worth a look (thanks Gemma!).

Asda Kinnerton white chocolate Olaf

(Image courtesy of Asda.com)

  • Malteser

Again, Maltesers MerryTeaser Reindeer , Christmas Tube and Gift Box are all looking good from their Ocado product descriptions.

  • Nestle

The Nestle Nut Avoidance List (October 2015) includes:

  • After Eight Bitesize Dark Chocolate Mints. (NOTE: After Eight wafer thin mints have recently changed to be “may contain nuts and peanuts”, as Nestle have changed the production site (thanks Angela, for this information). I’m not sure if the bitesize version are still safe – so please do check the packet, or with Nestle, if you are thinking of buying. For anyone who would like to see After Eights safe once more, check out Angela’s petition).
  • Various Matchmakers products.

Nestle also make giant tube versions of, for example, smarties,  milkybar buttons, jelly tots, fruit pastilles etc. I’ve also spotted an Aero white festive block on Ocado.

  • Nut Free Chocolate People

Check out their Christmas chocolates page, for details of their boxed chocolates, Christmas chocolates and snowman chocolates. They also sell chocolate bars which can be personalised with Happy Christmas messages.

Nut Free Chocolate People personalised Christmas barsw

(Image courtesy of Nutfreechocolatepeople.com)

  • Plamil

Plamil products are made in their “own factory which never uses dairy, gluten or nuts”. They have chocolate snowmen – available in trays of three.

  • Special Edition Chocolate

Special Edition Chocolate have some fantastic looking Christmas products, described as “Suitable for gluten free, vegetarian and nut free diets”.

Special Edition Chocolate nut free snowman

(Image courtesy of Specialeditionchocolate.co.uk)

  • Tasha’s Dairy Free Delights

Tasha’s (see above) has a large range of Christmas chocolate, including Christmas shapes, filled candy canes and lollies.

  • Waitrose / Ocado

Waitrose have brought out a Woodland Friends Chocolate Net of Robins.

Nut free Christmas biscuits

  • Cadbury

As mentioned above, the Christmas products haven’t yet been added to the Cadbury website. One to watch.

  • Campervan Cookies

A big thank you to Lisa for this recommendation! The allergy advice on their website states:

“Our cookies contain gluten, milk, wheat and egg and are suitable for vegetarians. All our products are carefully made in our own cookie workshop, which is a nut-free environment.”

Check out their selection of Christmas cookies.

Campervan cookies

(Image courtesy of Campervancookies.com)

  • Sainsburys

Cadbury Festive Friends are back for 2015 and safe according to the Sainsburys product description.

I’ll also be buying the Sainsbury’s Family Biscuit Selection again this year.

  • United Biscuits

The McVitie’s Family Circle Biscuit Selection also look nut safe.

Nut free gingerbread

  • Sainsbury’s

Sainsbury’s have a Bake Your Own Gingerbread House, which looks good from the website description.

  • Waitrose

Waitrose have a nut safe Gingerbread Activity Kit and Ocado stock Lovemore Free From Gingerbread Men (packs of 6).

Nut free mince pies & mincemeat

I have yet to find a box of ready-made mince pies which aren’t labelled “may contain nuts”. If anyone finds a safe box, please do post a comment below!

I’m resigned to making my own – cheating with JusRol pastry and one of the following fillings (all of which have no nuts in the ingredients and no may contain warning):

Nut free Christmas dinner: gravy, stuffing and sauces

  • Free & Easy

I like Free & Easy’s caramelised red onion gravy (free from wheat, gluten, dairy, nuts and more). They also do a gravy sauce mix.

  • Friendly Food and Drink Company

The Friendly Food and Drink Company make preserves, jams and relishes that are free from gluten, glucose, nuts and (with the exception of their curds) dairy. Their Christmas range includes Christmas Chutney, Cumberland Christmas Sauce and Christmas Jam.
Friendly Food and Drink Christmas chutney

(Image courtesy of Friendlyfoodanddrink.co.uk)

  • Paxo

Paxo Celebration sausage meat and thyme stuffing mix has no nuts in the ingredients (only “may contain” is milk).

Nut free Christmas puddings

There are a few nut free Christmas puddings available in the supermarkets (most I’ve seen are alcohol free too, though…)

Nut free festive cakes

  • Just Love Food Company

Just Love Food Company produce nut safe celebration cakes, available to buy from UK supermarkets. They also produce a Christmas range, available to order via email Karen@justlovefoodcompany.com or via their Facebook page.

Just Love Food Company Christmas cupcakes

(Image courtesy of Just Love Food Company)

  • Heavenly Cake Company

The Heavenly Cake Company lets customers build their own free from cake, to which you can add a personal message or, for example, top with their Christmas topper.

Are there any more?

As ever, if I’ve missed any, please do post a comment below. And if you are searching for a nut free version of a specific product, without luck, do post a question on the Nutmums Facebook page – someone might be able to help.

Happy Christmas everyone, when we get there!

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My family’s “free from story” has recently been featured on the Holland & Barrett website. In the post, I talk how we were thrown into the nut free world when my son had anaphylaxis at 20 months old and the massive learning curve in those first few months after diagnosis, when we were trying to figure out how to keep a nut allergic toddler safe and well.

In this post “Going on holiday with a nut allergy”, I share my tips on holidaying with a nut allergic child. This was originally published as a guest blog for Holland & Barrett.

PLANNING AND GETTING ORGANISED

As any parent knows, holidaying with small children requires a lot of organisation. Holidaying with a food allergic child requires organisation and then some! Prior to taking a child with a severe nut allergy on holiday in the UK, you would be wise to look up your nearest supermarket, chemist and hospital and research safe local restaurants in advance. Holidaying abroad requires even more preparation.

TRAVELLING ABROAD – FLYING ‘NUT SAFE’

At one of our first allergy appointments, we were told that flying might be a risk for our son. For example, if an airline hands out bags of peanuts and each passenger opens their bags at roughly the same time, we were advised that the peanut dust thrown into the air might be enough to trigger an allergic reaction.

The prospect of your child suffering anaphylaxis during a flight doesn’t bear thinking about. Yes, you could administer the EpiPen, but the shot of adrenaline can be only a temporary fix. Getting your child to a hospital for emergency treatment would be a challenge if you were 35,000ft, mid Atlantic.

CONTACT THE AIRLINE IN ADVANCE – WHAT TO CHECK

You need to make arrangements with the airline, to keep the flight as nut safe as possible. A 2013 US study identified various safeguarding measures a nut allergic passenger could take, which would reduce the risk of a reaction mid-flight. Measures included not using the plane’s pillows or blankets and asking for a nut-free buffer zone (where passengers within a certain number of rows do not eat nut products during the flight).

When we travelled to Portugal last year, my approach was to confirm with the airline by email that:

  • We could bring our own safe food on board (rather than trusting an airline meal to be nut-free).
  • A note had been added to our booking, alerting check-in staff, security and cabin crew of the allergy (and of our need to carry EpiPens).
  • They would restrict the sale of nuts on the flight and make an announcement asking passengers not to eat nuts or nut products.
  • We could pre-board, so that I could wipe the tray tables, arm rests and area around my son’s seat with travel disinfectant wipes.

Even taking these precautions, there is no guarantee the flight will be 100% nut-free. However, they helped me have peace of mind that I had controlled the risk as much as I could.

TRAVEL INSURANCE – CHECK IF YOU ARE COVERED OR HAVE TO PAY EXTRA

Yes, check whether a travel insurance policy covers anaphylaxis. Some either don’t, particularly where a child has been hospitalised for an allergic reaction in the previous 12 months, or charge a huge premium for anaphylaxis cover – around £100 is not unusual.

CARRY A EUROPEAN HEALTH INSURANCE CARD (EHIC) WITH YOU

It’s also worth applying for a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), so you are entitled to free, or reduced cost, healthcare in Europe. The card does NOT replace travel insurance – you need both. But if you’re holidaying in Europe and you’ve got an EHIC, you’ll be entitled (in most European countries) to the same treatment that local citizens are entitled to – extremely useful in emergencies. It’s completely free and valid for up to five years.

EMERGENCY MEDICATION

It’s a good idea to have a spare set of EpiPens, in case the first set is used (or lost) during the holiday. If you are going somewhere hot or very cold, have you got an insulated EpiPen case to carry them in? You may also need a doctor’s note, explaining the need for EpiPens, to show security staff at the airport.

READING FOREIGN LABEL TERMS FOR ALLERGY SUFFERERS

Although you may now be a pro at deciphering food labels in the UK, you need to learn how to do the same in a foreign country. If you travel within the EU, the top 14 allergens must be highlighted in the ingredients list in the same way as in the UK. If you are travelling somewhere that is popular with British tourists (or ex pats), you may find labelling in English. If not, you need to swot up on the translations for your allergens. I found it useful to know the translation for the phrases “contains” and “may contain” too.

DON’T GET ‘LOST IN TRANSLATION’ – CARRY TRANSLATION CARDS

If you are travelling to a non-English speaking country, could you explain your child’s allergy to a restaurant manager? If your child suffered anaphylaxis, do you know the emergency number to ring and enough of the local language to summon an ambulance? This is where translation cards are invaluable. You can order translation cards from a professional provider (such as Allergy UK). They describe your child’s allergy in the local language and detail how to describe an anaphylaxis emergency. Make sure the whole family has a few copies just in case and also, practice saying the phrase/condition in the local language. Keep a set in your hotel room too – next to the phone in case of an emergency.

‘I HAVE A NUT ALLERGY’ WRIST BANDS AND NECKLACES

On that note, particularly if your child might be attending a kids club, it’s worth considering getting your child a waterproof wrist band or necklace medallion with ‘nut allergy’ on (these can be ordered online in advance and often in various foreign languages).

PACK SAFE FOOD SUPPLIES

It’s a good idea to pack some safe food in both your hand luggage (for the journey, with sufficient supplies if you are delayed) and your suitcase (just in case the range of safe food at the local supermarkets is limited).

EATING OUT

It pays to research the potential restaurant options in your resort online, in advance. I emailed our hotel prior to departure. We set our expectations at eating in for the entire holiday, so were very pleasantly surprised when the hotel manager talked us through the safe food options on arrival.

WHAT TO DO AND WHERE TO GO IN AN EMERGENCY

As well as knowing how to call an ambulance, it’s reassuring to know the location of the nearest hospital, chemist or doctor. You can research this in advance and could keep a map handy with each location marked.

IN SUMMARY…

Going on holiday with a nut allergy can be daunting. When we holidayed abroad, I felt thrown completely out of our comfort zone. We went from feeling confident (in so much as you ever can be) in managing our son’s allergy, to going back to that sense of trepidation you have in the first few weeks post diagnosis, where everything is new. We will definitely holiday abroad again. It would be a shame to let the food allergy shrink our family’s horizons. Travelling abroad safely can be done, with extra energy and additional organisation.

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The Nutmums nut allergy friendly restaurant directory is growing – with ten new reviews added this week! The restaurants, pubs, cafes and ice cream parlours listed have all been road tested by fellow nut mums … who were so impressed with the confidence-inspiring service they received, they felt compelled to spread the word!

Check out the latest reviews for:

If none of these are near you, Nutmums.com can help you find a safe restaurant recommendation in the following ways:

  • Search the nut allergy friendly restaurant directory. Once you’ve entered a location and clicked “search”, you can filter the results by clicking “radius” to find restaurants closer to home.
  • If it’s a chain you are after, then browse the list of Nut allergy friendly restaurants: national chains.
  • Click on the “Eating out” option on the home page. The drop down menu lists different areas of the country. (And the list of areas is continually growing, as new reviews for different areas of the UK are received).

Eating Out

Where do YOU eat out with your nut allergic child?

Whether it’s a branch of a national chain or your local independent cafe, I would love to hear your success stories!

Let’s spread the word about nut allergy friendly restaurants, cafes or pubs. If you have found somewhere which caters well for the nut allergic customer, please recommend them to the Nutmums community by posting a review here.

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Great news! The Just Love Food Company has launched a fantastic new product: individually wrapped cupcakes.

The cupcakes were a big hit with my children on the taste front and, from my perspective, they are ideal for taking to my son’s friends’ parties and including in his safe treats box for school.

The Just Love Food Company’s nut safe promise

As a family, we are big fans of the Just Love Food Company’s cakes for birthdays and special occasions. They made my son a fantastic bespoke Spiderman cake for his birthday last year and I’ve just bought one of their “decorate your own” cakes for my daughter’s birthday this week.

If you haven’t already heard of the brand, I can’t recommend them highly enough. Founded by Mike and Karen Woods in 2010, two of the couple’s three children have nut allergies (read their story here). They therefore understand first hand what shopping for a nut allergic child involves and, specifically, the difficulties nut allergic children can face joining in with food-centred social occasions such as birthday parties.

The company makes a nut safe promise, explaining:

“We know that even the smallest trace of nut contamination can have a detrimental effect, so whilst we can never make a 100% guarantee (although we try 100% of the time), we have taken every possible step to make sure they are the safest on the market and safer than making it at home.”

As Mike sums it up:

“My children eat these cakes and I wouldn’t want to put my own children at risk.”

The company is, I believe, currently the only manufacturer of nut free cakes in the UK which are sold in the supermarkets. Their celebration cakes are available in Asda, Sainsburys, Tesco and Nisa.

The new cupcake range

As I’ve written before, since diagnosis, my go to cake brands are the Just Love Food Company (for birthday cakes) and, for small cakes, I used to buy Fabulous Bakin Boys cupcakes and muffins. That all changed last October, when Fabulous Bakin Boys announced their products would no longer be nut free.

Since my son started school last September, I’ve been amazed at the speed he has rattled through the contents of his safe treats box. Someone’s birthday? Their mum sends in cake and D instead has a treat out of his safe box. Halloween. The same. Ditto Christmas. The safe treats box idea has has worked well for us. However, it seems far more inclusive if he can enjoy a similar treat to his friends, where possible. 50 children munching cake and the boy with a peanut allergy with some chocolate buttons? Although he might enjoy his treat, he’d stand out less if he could have a cake too.

Step forward the Just Love Food Company with their new cupcake range. The cupcakes are £20 for 48 (which includes shipping costs) and are currently available directly via their website. For the ingredients list, see below.

The company are selling the cakes in quantities of 48 (4 boxes of 12), to keep the shipping costs as economical as possible. If 48 seems a daunting prospect, just to say: they are suitable for home freezing. (In fact, my son’s teacher has put a few in the school freezer ready for the next celebration day!)

If you would like to order, please contact the Just Love Food Company via their website.

Fingers crossed we see them on the supermarket shelves soon too!

Ingredients List for Individually Wrapped Cupcakes

SPONGE: Sugar, Free Range Egg, Wheat Flour(Calcium Carbonate, Iron, Niacin, Thiamin), Vegetable Fat: Palm Oil, Rapeseed Oil;  Water, Dried Skimmed Milk, Raising Agents: (Disodium Diphosphate, Sodium  Hydrogen Carbonate Wheat Flour); Humectant: Glycerine; Whey Powder (Milk), Salt, Potassium Sorbate, Natural Flavouring(Vanilla).

SWEET FILLING: Sugar, Margarine [Vegetable Oil (Palm, Palm Kernel, Rapeseed), Water, Salt,  Humectant (Glycerine), Natural Flavouring (Vanilla).

ICED SUGAR DISC: Icing Sugar, Sugar Gum [Glucose, Vegetable Oil (Palm, Rapeseed), Water, Sugar, Humectant (Glycerine), Stabiliser (Gum Tragacanth)],

 

Allergy Advice:

For Allergens including cereals containing gluten see ingredients in bold

Due to Manufacturing methods during production, this product may contain traces of Soya

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Are you confident that the staff at your child’s school could (and would) deal with an anaphylaxis emergency?

I was. The headteacher has assured me that everyone is trained in how to spot an allergic reaction and how to administer an EpiPen. In fact, the school nurse came in to give refresher EpiPen training to everyone in January. However, in light of what I have now learned about one school catering company, I will be double checking that “everyone” means everyone and there aren’t any external staff responsible for my son’s well being at lunchtimes.

Last October, I heard from an Oxfordshire nut mum whose children went to a school where Caterlink provided the school dinners. She was appalled to discover that Caterlink’s Nut Allergy Guidelines stated that staff should “not administer medication under any circumstances”:

Caterlink nut allergy guidelines emergency action

Indeed, Caterlink’s Allergy and Special Diet Guide (at page 15) advises staff “You could save a life”:

Caterlink

The “What to do in an emergency” section (at page 40) reiterates the message: do not administer medication under any circumstances.

Our nut mum contacted Caterlink, setting out her concerns (for full details, see Do your school caterers know their auto-injectors from their antidotes?).

The company has responded that:

“Caterlink staff are not required (by law) to administer or store Epi-pens in the dining room. There are also many variables of an allergic reaction and I do not wish for Caterlink staff to second guess when or if they should be administering an auto-injector.”

This has been challenged by our nut mum, who believes a policy that reads “staff are not obliged to give emergency medication”, would be an improvement on the existing “do not administer medication under any circumstances”. Pointing out that if Caterlink are concerned staff do not have the knowledge to deal with an anaphylaxis emergency and would be ‘second guessing’, then a well researched policy would be a step in the right direction.

The other points she raised have been acknowledged by the company, who pledge to make changes ‘in line with the upcoming Food Information Regulations’. Although they give no indication of what these changes will be or when they will be made.

Our nut mum is not impressed:

“Caterlink do not seem to realise the huge responsibility they have in keeping allergic children safe and the part a good policy and good attitude can play in this. It would be a simple thing to get the right information to staff and give them the confidence to act in an emergency, yet it appears to be low down on Caterlink’s list of priorities.”

You would hope that, in a life threatening emergency situation, people would do whatever they could to save a life. However, you only have to think of the death of Emma Sloan, after a pharmacist refused to dispense an EpiPen without a prescription, to realise that, for some, written rules and regulations will hold sway.

If your child’s school dinners are provided by Caterlink and you agree that it would be preferable for the guidelines to state that “staff are not obliged to give emergency medication” (rather than “do not administer medication under any circumstances”) then you might also want to raise this with your school and the caterer. That way, if there was an anaphylaxis emergency and only a member of the catering team was available to assist, there wouldn’t be a nagging doubt at the back of their minds that giving the EpiPen was against policy.

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I can’t believe it’s that time of year already … with four weeks to go, Christmas is looming. So here’s a list of the nut free Christmas food products I’ve spotted so far this year. Please post a comment and spread the word if you know of any more!

As always, obviously do check the label for yourself each time and enquire directly of the manufacturer, if you are at all unsure as to whether a product is nut safe.

Christmas goodies 2014
The 2014 haul so far…

Nut free advent calendars

If you are not already ready for Advent, here are some nut free calendar options which are worth a look:

Kinnerton

Kinnerton have their usual wide range of advent calendars. Characters include: Avengers, Boofle, Disney Junior, Hello Kitty, Frozen, Me To You, Mr Men, Peppa Pig, Paddington, Simpsons, Star Wars, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Thomas.

Different stores stock different calendars – so check the Kinnerton website if you are after something specific. Stockists include Asda, Morrisons, Nisa, Poundland, Poundstretcher, Poundworld, Sainsbury’s, Superdrug, Tesco, ToysRUs and 99p stores.

For anyone in the Macclesfield area, I can vouch that Poundland (town centre), Sainsbury’s (Cumberland Street) and Notcutts garden centre, Woodford have a selection in stock!

Plamil

If you are after dairy free as well as nut free, check out Plamil, who have dairy free chocolate and “no added sugar alternative to milk chocolate” versions.

Nut Free Chocolate People

This year I’ve invested in a wooden advent calendar, which I’m filling with advent chocolates from the Nut Free Chocolate People. These are still available from the Nut Free Chocolate People website (as at 27 November), however the site states:

Christmas Nut Free Chocolate People advent

Nut free chocolate coins

Chocolates for Chocoholics

Chocolates for Chocoholics sell a bag of chocolate coins, labelled with their “nut safety promise” emblem:

Christmas Chocolate for Chocoholics

John Lewis

Last year, I found nut free chocolate coins by the Chocolate Alchemist in John Lewis. They are available again on the website this year and Kirsten has tracked them down instore:

Christmas John Lewis coins

John Lewis also stock Albert Premier chocolate coins (pictured below). The John Lewis website states:

Christmas Albert Premier John Lewis description 27.11.14

However, the Albert Premier website states that “The chocolate in our factory is produced on lines that do NOT process nuts or dried fruits, only chocolate.” I’ve asked John Lewis if their website description is correct – update hopefully to follow.

Christmas Albert Premier chocolate coins

 

(image courtesy of John Lewis)

Nut Free Chocolate People

Nut Free Chocolate People sell bags of chocolate coins. Act fast if you want to order: their final order date for Christmas is midnight, 30 November.

Sainsbury’s

Sainsbury’s giant chocolate coin does not have any nut warning (unlike their bags of smaller coins, which do).

Nut free tree decorations

Christmas D and D

(image courtesy of D & D Chocolates)

D & D chocolates make dairy free (and nut free) chocolate and carob. They have both chocolate (pictured above) and carob tree decorations, available to order through their website.

Nut Free Chocolate People sell chocolate filled Christmas baubles. Their final order date for Christmas is midnight, Monday 30 November.

Tasha’s Dairy Free Delights sell tree decorations using either Plamil or Moo Free chocolate. Plamil is a dedicated nut free brand. Moo Free chocolate may contain nut traces. The website says you may specify which type of chocolate is used.

Nut free Christmas biscuits

I’m going to opt for for the Sainsbury family biscuit tin again, which has no nuts listed in the ingredients or referred to in the “allergy advice” warnings.

Christmas Sainsburys biscuits

(image courtesy of Sainsbury)

I’ve also bought a box of Cadbury “Festive Friends”. This product isn’t on the Cadbury website at the time of typing, however there are no nut warnings on the packet I’ve bought.

The United Biscuits nut free list (Nov 2014 version) includes McVitie’s Xmas Festive Faces and McVitie’s Xmas Penguin Yule Logs.

Nut free Christmas chocolates

  • After Eight –  both “dark thin mints” and “bitesize tubes”.
  • Cadbury describe their “Snowbites” and Dairy Milk buttons tube as “nut absent”.

Christmas Cadbury

 

(image courtesy of Cadbury)

  • Chocolates for Chocoholics sell various chocolate packs, which can be personalised. The website description states “Contains eleven pieces of solid milk chocolate that are gluten free, nut free and suitable for vegetarians”.
  • As well as their tree decorations (see above), D & D Chocolates have a wide range of dairy and nut free Christmas chocolate and carob. Chocolate santas, mint snowmen, Christmas novelty shapes and more.
  • This year Kinnerton’s Christmas range includes chocolate lollies (Mothercare, Asda), chocolate shapes (Asda) and chocolate satsumas (Fosters, Selfridges, WHSmith). For their character confectionery, there’s Thomas or Peppa selection boxes plus “mini figures” boxes (in Hello Kitty, Frozen, Peppa Pig, Star Wars, Thomas). The website also lists a Paddington biscuit tin:

Christmas Paddington tin

(image courtesy of Kinnerton)

  • Nut Free Chocolate People sell both bags and boxes of Christmas chocolates (order before midnight 30 November!)
  • Plamil sell chocolate snowmen, in “No Added Sugar alternative to milk” and “Organic Fairtrade alternative to milk” versions.
  • As well as tree decorations, Tasha’s Dairy Free Delights has a large selection of Christmas chocolate shapes (I understand that you will need to specify they use “Plamil” – see above).

Nut free gingerbread

I’ve bought Mini Gingerbread Men biscuits from Sainsburys.

Waitrose have a gingerbread activity kit, which the website lists as “Suitable for those avoiding Nuts and peanuts” (thanks for the top tip, Victoria!).

Nut free mince pies

Last year, Duerr’s and Robertson’s confirmed that their mincemeat was nut free. I will email both to confirm this is still the case, particularly given the Duerr’s website still states (as at 27 November 2014) “May contain traces of nuts”. Update to follow as and when I receive replies.

nutfree_mincemeat

I’ve heard M&S are selling a mincemeat with not nuts in the ingredients and no nut warnings this year (thanks Clare!).

Last year, It’s Nut Free sold jars of luxury Christmas mincemeat. Their website is currently down – however if anyone tracks this down in the supermarkets, please post a comment.

Nut free gravy, sauces and stuffing

  • Free & Easy make a various gravies. We had their caramelised red onion gravy last year (which was lovely!), ordered from Ocado.
  • The Friendly Food and Drink Company make a Christmas chutney “packed with cranberries, oranges, cinnamon and nutmeg”.
  • The Ocado website states again this year that Paxo Sage, Onion & Apple Stuffing Mix is free from nut and peanut. The only may contain stated on the packet I’ve bought is “may also contain milk”. I didn’t receive a reply from Paxo last year confirming the product’s nut free status. I’ll try again…

Nut free Christmas pudding

  • I’ve gone for the Coles gluten, nut and alcohol free Christmas pudding from Ocado – available in two sizes, 454g or 112g.
  • Matthew Walker (100g) nut and alcohol free Christmas pudding is available from OcadoWaitrose and Amazon.
  • Morrisons (100g) and Tesco (454g)  also have their own brand nut free Christmas puddings (thanks Michelle and Steph!).

Nut free Christmas cake

Christmas Just Love Food Company snowman cake

(image courtesy of Just Love Food Company)

Just Love Food Company again has a nut free snowman cake (pictured), described as:

“delicious moist sponge cake with a raspberry jam and crème filling, skilfully decorated using soft icing and personalised with a message of your choice”

The Heavenly Cake Company make a range of nut free cakes. From looking at their website (see, for example, their double chocolate cake), you can add a short message or photo topper to your chosen cake – so it looks like they can be customised to a Christmassy theme.

Final thought: alcohol containing nuts

And finally, here’s a list of alcoholic drinks which contain nuts…

 

Hope everyone has a great, nut safe Christmas when we get there! If you have any other Christmas product recommendations, please do post a comment below.

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Whilst cursing the loss of Fabulous Bakin’ Boys as a dedicated nut free brand, I realised I hadn’t posted an update about Alpro’s decision to keep its soya products (save for yoghurts – see below) nut free.

A quick recap: may contain traces of almonds and hazelnuts

Last November, Alpro confirmed that they were going to produce their soya products in the same factory as their nut milks from the end of 2014. They had begun to add “may contain traces of almonds and hazelnuts” to their soya products in advance of this switch.

Many parents of children with both nut and dairy allergies were distraught at this news. As well as being nut free, reasonably priced and readily available across the UK, the fortified Alpro soya products provided a staple source of calcium for children who had to avoid both dairy and nuts.

The decision also:

  • Meant Provamel products would no longer be nut free.
  • Meant the trade version of Alpro soya (supplied to coffee shops, such as Costa) would no longer be nut free.
  • Would likely mean the supermarket own brand milks made by Alpro would soon bear a “may contain” warning too.

The “Alpro: Save our Soya” campaign

We therefore launched the Alpro: Save our Soya (AlproSOS) campaign, originally to ask Alpro to reconsider the move, given their soya products are a staple part of so many dairy and nut allergic children’s diets. When we learned that the decision had been made, but that their allergen controls were apparently gold standard, we asked if the may contain labels were necessary.

Alpro soya to stay nut free

The first hint of success came in March 2014, when Alpro agreed that the 1 litre cartons (but not the 250ml cartons) of their junior milk would continue to be made in a nut free factory.

Then in August, Alpro “saved our soya”, issuing the following statement: 

“As you know, a year ago we decided to label all our plant based products with a ‘may contain traces of almonds and hazelnuts’ claim. This was to give consumers advance warning of the integration of products containing almonds or hazelnuts into its production facilities.

After thorough investigation and without compromising Alpro’s ethical aims of bringing delicious and safe products to the market, we are pleased to confirm that we will be gradually removing the ‘may contain traces of almonds and hazelnuts’ claim from our soya, rice and oat drinks as well as our plant-based alternatives to cream and desserts.

As part of a major investment programme in our facilities, we will arrange our current production lines to be dedicated to producing soya, rice and oat drinks or almond, hazelnut and coconut drinks. Any avoidable risk of cross contamination is thus excluded, which means the warning can be removed from our soya, rice and oat drink products and our plant-based alternatives to cream and desserts.

We apologise for any confusion relating to the nut claim, but our intention regarding labelling has always to keep consumers fully informed of the changes as early as possible. Now that production plans have changed, the claim is no longer necessary on soya, rice and oat drinks and our plant-based alternatives to cream and desserts.

These recent decisions and measures will allow all consumers to continue to enjoy Alpro soya, rice and oat drinks and our Alpro plant-based alternatives to cream and desserts in the future.”

Clearly this is a fantastic result for those with nut and dairy allergic children. A huge thank you to Alpro for listening to their food allergic customers and reversing their decision to merge the nut and soya milk production lines.

Alpro soya yoghurts ‘may contain nuts’ … for now

The only remaining sticking point is that the “may contain” warning will not be removed from Alpro soya yoghurts at the present time.

The FAQs on the Alpro UK website state (as at 28 October 2014):

Alpro yoghurts screen shot 28.10.14

Hopefully Alpro’s procedures will confirm there is no cross contamination risk and the “may contain” warnings will soon be lifted from the yoghurts too. Keep an eye on the AlproSOS facebook page for the latest news!

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rip-nut-freeRIP another nut free brand.

This afternoon, I read, with dismay, an alert from the Anaphylaxis Campaign, warning its members that Fabulous Bakin’ Boys products would no longer be nut free from November 2014.

Shortly afterwards, I received a copy of the following press release from Fabulous Bakin’ Boys themselves:

“FABULOUS BAKIN’ BOYS SAYS GOODBYE TO NUT FREE STATUS

The Fabulous Bakin’ Boys, who produce flapjacks, muffins and cupcakes for major retailers, will be introducing new nutty variants into its product range next year and as a result, its factory will no longer be guaranteed ‘Nut Free’.

Next year will see changes to the Fabulous Bakin’ Boys’ range with exciting new product lines to meet increased customer demands for nutty, healthier options suitable for snacking on the go.  Producing just a few nutty lines means that the Fabulous Bakin’ Boys’ Witney factory can no longer claim to be nut free and the company is working with the Anaphylaxis Campaign to communicate this to their customers with nut allergies.

Richard Cooper from The Fabulous Bakin Boys explains:

“After years of consumers asking for nutty variants, we plan to start manufacturing a nutty treat or two next year. It’s with a heavy heart that we’re changing our factory’s guaranteed nut free status but hope that our fans will understand the need for change. We will of course still have baked goods without nuts but as they will be baked in the same environment as the new products, we need to alert customers to this.

“Packaging on all products will highlight the change from Nut Free status from November 2014, and we’ll be working closely with the Anaphylaxis Campaign to inform those with nut allergies that we plan on changing in the new year”.

For more information on severe allergies visit www.anaphylaxis.org.uk.”

 

When it comes to dedicated nut free food manufacturers, there are very few companies out there whose entire product range is nut free. Just Love Food Company, Kinnerton (not counting their white label products) and Ilumi are a few of the few examples that immediately spring to mind. Fabulous Bakin’ Boys were another. Since my son’s peanut allergy diagnosis, my “go to brands” for cakes have been Just Love Food (for birthday cakes) and Fabulous Bakin’ Boys (for cupcakes, muffins and flapjacks). There are so few other safe options in the supermarket cake aisle, these two companies have been a godsend over the last two years. To learn that Fabulous Bakin’ Boys are now going to be labelled “may contain nuts” and therefore off limits, is disappointing to say the least.

You can count on your fingers the brands stocked in your supermarket that speak the language of a nut mum: “Relax! Your child can actually eat this product without risk”. Now, one of those brands are pulling the rug. This both frustrates and saddens me.

Surely nut free food choice shouldn’t be decreasing, as nut allergies are on the rise?

fbb_no_longer_nut_free
The new look Fabulous Bakin’ Boys packaging

Why has Fabulous Bakin’ Boys nut free status changed?

One of the plus points about the Fabulous Bakin’ Boys products is that they are all individually wrapped. This makes them ideal, for example, for including in your nut allergic child’s “safe treats box” at school. My son only started school this September and already two of his classmates have celebrated their 5th birthdays, with everyone being given a cake. On those occasions, my son has had a Fabulous Bakin’ Boys cupcake from his safe treats box, and very pleased with it he was too. Unfortunately, this safe solution is no longer an option from November.

It seems that the individual wrappers may have been the undoing of Fabulous Bakin’ Boys’ nut free cake offering. According to The Business Magazine, in 2012, FBB “made a £3m investment in the installation of a new automated line in its bakery in the first quarter of 2012”.

Despite having been described as “the growth star of the UK cake market”. Fabulous Bakin’ Boys went into administration earlier this year. “Overspending”, including on the new automated packaging machinery, has been given as a reason for the company’s financial problems.

FoodManufacture.co.uk reported that Dutch firm Daelmans bought Fabulous Bakin’ Boys out of administration in April 2014 and that the:

“two founders and directors of Fabulous Bakin’ Boys, md Gary Frank and Jon Frank, have now moved on from the firm.”

This looks like a case of a company being bought and its nut free principles then being discarded.

Saying that, the 2012 article on Gary Frank in The Business Magazine makes no mention of Fabulous Bakin’ Boys’ nut free credentials, which begs the question of whether “nut free” was a core principle of the brand, or an incidental bonus.

Either way, in their own words, Fabulous Bakin’ Boys are now “going nuts”. Sadly nut allergic children will no longer be able to “keep on munching”.

fbb_about

(image courtesy of Fabulous Bakin’ Boys, 27 October 2014)

Step forward a new brand?

It’s probably fair to say that Fabulous Bakin’ Boys popularity amongst nut allergy families demonstrates that you don’t always have to have an “amazing” product. I’m not asking for Delia’s secret recipe here. A safe product, that you can buy locally and that your children enjoy, is good enough for parties and class treats.

Whilst there are other bakeries making small, nut free cakes and sweet treats, Fabulous Bakin’ Boys was the only one readily available in major supermarkets across the UK. Let’s hope another manufacturer steps in to fill this gap in the market sometime very soon.

Sources / further information