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Finding nut free chocolate can be a bit of a challenge. Factor in multiple allergies, the hunt becomes harder still. While there are dairy free and nut free brands out there, what if you’re avoiding nuts, dairy, egg, gluten … and soya? Now, there’s a challenge.

Step forward iQ Chocolate… 

iQ Chocolate is “free from all 14 allergens, including nuts, gluten, soya, dairy, and refined cane sugar… and made in a nut free environment”.

When I asked about their approach to “may contains”, co-founder Jane told me “iQ chocolate is free from traces of allergens.  The top 14 allergens are not allowed anywhere in the factory.  We don’t use any lecithins – a tricky thing to do – but we managed to find a way that we could replace emulsifiers with cocoa butter. So, in our plain dark chocolate there are just 3 ingredients – cocoa beans, cocoa butter and coconut blossom sugar”.

Here iQ Chocolate founders Jane and Kate share the iQ Chocolate story…

BEYOND RAW – iQ Chocolate

Woody Allen said “You can live to be a hundred if you give up all the things that make you want to live to be a hundred.

Surely not!

Buy Nut Free Chocolate BarsWe, Jane and Kate (founders of iQ Chocolate), want to live for a very long time AND enjoy the journey.

When we first heard that chocolate could be healthy, we were in a very corporate world of people and management development, with a desire to do something that makes much more of a difference to health and wellbeing. One very ordinary day, munching our way through a bag of cocoa nibs, we asked the most obvious question – Why is it that such golden nuggets of nutritional benefit have lost their soul and become demonised? One of the world’s most nutritionally dense foods, in its natural state, had somehow become bent out of shape, and was now seen as partly responsible for the obesity and diabetes crisis, currently plaguing the developed world.

This question became something of an obsession.

Firstly, we discovered that all beans are not the same.  There were some fascinating stories coming out of the cocoa farming world – from the group of women who had started a cocoa plant nursery, growing and selling young cocoa trees to farmers – to the farmers themselves, being re-educated in the lost skill of cocoa farming.

We tried and tested various beans, with the help of the Rowett Institute of Nutrition and Health at Aberdeen University. At the same time, we were wrestling with the art and science of making chocolate from the bean. Start up gear was a hair dryer, colander, tin dustbin lid and a washing machine, set at 1400 revs. We got there, in the end, and became Scotland’s first bean to bar chocolate maker.

Health Claims

Just as we were entering the market, the EU food regulations were also changing. With a much needed EFSA clamp down (to protect the consumer) on overstated health claims, we knew this was in our favour. Terms like Superfood were now being regulated.  This was also in our favour. With over 20 Health Claims, iQ Superfood Chocolate passed with flying colours.

We thought that everyone would get what we were trying to do. The reaction to – “Would you like to try some healthy chocolate?” – to our dismay – was often met with sceptical laughter.

However, the tide has turned! Customers finally really “get” what we were trying to do.

Free From

Now, with the Free From trend gaining momentum, and the growing concerns regarding other health related conditions, such as diabetes, iQ Chocolate has finally come into its own.

iQ Superfood is Free From all 14 allergens – including nuts – and refined cane sugar.

There is more ….

iQ - Nut Free Chocolate Brand in the UKIn addition to the current health benefits, being raw, organic, vegan, Free from all 14 allergens and low GI, we know there is much more to be revealed about iQ Chocolate.

Ongoing studies with Queen Margaret University, including the positive impact of iQ on sporting performance, and the impact (a positive one!)  on cognitive decline in old age, are really important to our customers (and, on a personal level too!)

Watch this space!

Contact details

http://www.iqchoc.com/

Contact: http://www.iqchoc.com/get-in-touch/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/IQChoc

Twitter: @iQchocolate

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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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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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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

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We’ve been a fan of Ocado since diagnosis. The website provides detailed product descriptions, with an ingredients list and allergen information. They have also attempted to provide a “nut free” filter, allowing you to whittle down your search results to show only the nut safe options. I’ve grumbled in the past that the filter does not pick up every safe product. However, whilst an imperfect tool, it is the best online supermarket I have come across so far, for nut free grocery shopping.

We shop there week in, week out. Invariably ordering their mini breadsticks, which my children love dunking into houmous. This week, we were heading for a playdate at a friend’s house. I’d promised to bring along some nut safe supplies for my two. When stood in her kitchen, I had a tense moment when I went to open the mini breadsticks tub. It now bore the warning:

“May also contain nuts, peanuts…”

Although the packet hadn’t yet been opened, I was annoyed with myself for letting contraband food into our nut free house.

BREADSTICKS

Don’t rely on websites: always check the label

Back at home, I checked the product description on the Ocado website. The allergen information now read:

Ocado mini breadsticks screen shot 22.7.14

However, the description on the Waitrose website still stated (as at 22 July 2014) that the product is suitable for those avoiding nuts:

Waitrose mini breadsticks screen shot 22.7.14

Indeed, the mini breadsticks are still listed on the list of Waitrose Own Label Products Suitable for those Avoiding Nuts and Peanuts (March 2014 version).

So, the addition of the “may contain” appears to be a recent change which the Waitrose website and safe product lists haven’t yet caught up with.

Why the new “may contain”?

My next thought was: WHY has this changed? Have the ingredients source or manufacturing arrangements altered? Or is this another example of a supermarket updating its labelling to comply with the new allergen labelling laws coming into force from December, and apparently seizing the opportunity to slap on a “may contain nuts” warning at the same time?

I have written to Ocado to ask what prompted the change (and to see if any of their own brand breadsticks remain nut safe). Update hopefully to follow.

Checking labels: rule of three

This experience is a reminder to always check the label. I remember reading an article where one allergy mum described how her family has a “three times” rule. They check a food’s ingredients label:

  • When they take a product off the shelf in a supermarket;
  • When they unpack the shopping at home; and
  • Before the product is opened.

On this occasion the label change was spotted in time. However, the breadsticks incident has given me a jolt to also remember to double check the ingredients as I add to basket and when I unpack the shopping too.

Update (28 August 2014): Ocado’s reply

I’m pleased to report that Ocado have now advised:

“This product is currently being re-designed and once the re-design is complete in the autumn, the declaration should change to ‘may contain traces of sesame and milk’. We will be taking out any reference to nuts and peanuts.”

So, it seems this product is only temporarily off limits. I’ll report back as and when I spot the new look packaging (with no reference to may contain nuts and peanuts) online.

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Has your family missed having muesli as a breakfast option?

Before entering the nut free world, muesli was a regular fixture on our weekly shopping list. When my son suffered anaphylaxis to peanut in spring 2012, our doctors advised that he should avoid all nuts. Dorset Cereals, Jordans, Alpen… every box I checked listed nuts as an ingredient. I gave up looking, believing muesli to now be an off limits food, banished from our nut free home.

We recently came back from holiday full of the usual virtuous intentions… drink less, exercise more, eat more healthily and on and on. Whilst I’ve not yet mustered the willpower to even look for my trainers, the healthy eating kick got off to an excellent start when I received samples of Frebaco’s nut free muesli and porridge.

The degrees of nut allergy separation

Although the stats show that 1 in 50 children now has a peanut allergy, that’s only the tip of an iceberg. When a child is diagnosed peanut or tree nut allergic, many homes then become nut free zones. The allergy doesn’t just affect the allergic child’s diet, it affects how an entire household eats. A recent survey by Rich Products looked at the “Nut Allergy Ecosystem”, which showed how one child’s nut allergy impacts on how a wide circle of people shop (family, friends, teachers and so on).

Rich-s-Nut-Allergy-Ecosystem-Infographic from Foodnavigator-usa

(image courtesy of Foodnavigator-usa.com)

Whilst it might be a rare child who professes to love muesli, it is important that nut free versions of these products exist, for the parents who now find themselves living in nut free homes. Although finding nut free chocolate brands is great, a family’s supermarket shop isn’t just about treats. There is therefore a demand for nut free versions for ANY type of food, and particularly products which typically contain nuts. Some Chinese or Indian cooking sauces are a prime example. Muesli is another.

Introducing Frebaco

Step forward Frebaco. They’ve just launched a range of nut free breakfast cereals in the UK. There are “plain” and “fruity” versions of both muesli and porridge. My partner’s now a fan of the organic muesli, which he’s been eating with chopped fruit and yoghurt. Whereas I’ve enjoyed ploughing through the ready made option – the fruit muesli with added pineapple, papaya, banana, raisins and coconut flakes. As for the kids, my daughter has been stealing spoonfuls of my fruit muesli and they were both persuaded to make like Abney & Teal, sampling the oat and barley porridge, with jam. I suspect the children might be bigger fans of the company’s FRAX flakes, when they’re brought to the UK. I’ve not tried these yet but they are more geared to children: hoop shaped and in either cocoa & chocolate flavour or strawberries & blueberries.

The muesli and porridge are currently retailing at selected branches of Tesco (more on that below) at the following prices:

  • Oat & Barley Porridge: £3.25 (750g)
  • Oat & fruit porridge: £3.25 (750g)
  • Fruit Muesli: £3.00 (625g)
  • Organic Muesli: £3.00 (625g)

So all in all, they are quality nut free products at prices comparable to nutty muesli brands and something we will now be buying regularly.

Frebaco’s nut free credentials

Frebaco state on their website that they “do not allow any nuts in our factory and all our ingredients are certified to be nut-free”. Both their ingredients and products are tested for almonds, brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, peanuts, pecan nuts, pistachios and walnuts. They are:

“Certified as a “nut-free” company, nuts are not allowed anywhere in the factory. Likewise all ingredient suppliers to Frebaco have similar certification and strict procedures.”

I confess I hadn’t heard of an official nut free certification previously. The Frebaco website includes a detailed nut free statement, which explains that the certification includes “BRC, ISO (Quality and Environment), Swedish National Food Agency (NFA nut-free ) and EU Organic / KRAV (organic products).”.

Where can I get hold of Frebaco cereals?

Frebaco has just launched in the UK in Tesco, who are pioneering a nut free zone as part of their “Lifestyle Food Fair”. The event is running until 31 August in certain Tesco Extra stores (here’s a  list of participating stores) and online at Tesco.com:

(I understand there’s also a “4 for 3” promotion running until 24 August.)

I will save my comments on the Fair’s unfortunate title for another day (intrigued: does anyone shop nut free by choice?). For now, I’m happy to acknowledge that this initiative is a stride in the right direction for food allergic consumers, provided it continues long term.

The Frebaco products are certainly worth tracking down. Fingers crossed this brand continues to be available here after August, hopefully in a range of supermarkets and throughout the UK. It could provide a safe muesli option to many a nut allergy network.

Update (28 November 2014): Great news! Frebaco muesli is now available to order online from the TotallySwedish website.

 

Frebaco nut free muesli and porridge

Full ingredients information

Oat & Barley Porridge: 

OAT flakes* 50%, BARLEY flakes* 50%

*wholegrain

Fruit Muesli:

OAT flakes*, pineapple crisp (WHEAT flour, wholegrain  OAT flour*, BARLEYmalt extract, flavouring, salt), WHEAT flakes*, cornflakes (maize flour, salt, BARLEY malt extract), pineapple 9,3% (pineapple, sugar, antioxidant (citric acid), preservative (SULPHUR DIOXIDE), RYE flakes*, papaya 8,6% (papaya, sugar, preservative (SULPHUR DIOXIDE), BARLEY flakes*, banana 6,2% (banana, coconut oil, sugar, flavouring), raisins, toasted coconut flakes 3,6%.

*wholegrain.

Organic Muesli:

OAT flakes* **, WHEAT flakes* **, BARLEY flakes* (BARLEY* **, salt), RYE flakes* **.

*organic ingredient

**whole grain

Oat & fruit porridge:

OAT flakes* 85%, raisins 7%, papaya 4% (papaya, sugar, preservative (SULPHUR DIOXIDE), pineapple 4% (pineapple, sugar, antioxidant (citric acid), preservative (SULPHUR DIOXIDE).

*wholegrain

 

 

 

 

 

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When is a nut not a nut? When it’s a peanut. Unless it’s on a “may contain” label, in which case it might be…

The difference between peanuts and tree nuts

One of the first things you learn when entering the nut allergy world is that there’s a difference between peanuts and tree nuts. In fact, it was the taxi driver taking me to visit my son in hospital who turned out to be The Knowledge on allergies and taught me the distinction.

Peanuts (aka groundnuts) are legumes, botanically related to foods like peas, beans and lentils. Whereas tree nuts include almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts and so on. A person can be allergic to peanuts, tree nuts or both.

At the moment, my son’s only known food allergy is to peanut. Our doctor’s advice is to avoid all nuts. However, some people only avoid their specific allergens, meaning, for example, some purely peanut allergic people eat tree nuts (and vice versa).

Peanuts and tree nuts must be distinguished on an ingredients label

In the UK, food allergen labelling law requires the label to state if a prepacked food or alcoholic drink contains one of the top 14 food allergens (or an ingredient made from them). From December, the way in which ingredients are displayed will change, so that the allergens must be highlighted (for example, in bold). The obligation to provide details of allergens will also be extended to foods sold loose and when eating out.

Under both the current law and the law from December 2014, the list of 14 allergens distinguishes between:

  • Peanuts, and
  • Certain nuts (i.e. almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, cashews, pecan nuts, Brazil nuts, pistachio nuts, macadamia nuts and Queensland nuts).

A bag of peanuts and cashews should state “peanut” and “cashew nut” separately in the ingredients list. The manufacturer couldn’t simply put “Ingredients: nuts”, as this would certainly not cover peanuts.

Could the manufacturer put “Ingredients: peanuts and nuts”? It seems not. I asked the Food Standards Agency (FSA) whether a food company also has to name the specific type of tree nut. They advised that:

“a product containing tree nuts such as Walnuts, Brazil nuts, Almonds etc, as ingredients would by law have to make a clear reference to these particular nuts on the label.”

“May contain nuts” warnings

Under section 15 of the Food Safety Act 1990 it is an offence to sell food which is falsely described or labelled in a way which is likely to mislead as to its nature, substance or quality. However, the specific allergen labelling rules (including the requirement to differentiate between peanuts and other nuts) only apply to intentionally added ingredients and do not cover accidental cross contamination during the manufacturing process. (For more information, see Deciphering UK food allergen labelling law.)

The use of precautionary labels (“may contain nuts”, “not suitable for nut allergy sufferers”, “produced in a factory that also processes nuts” etc) is voluntary. Whilst the FSA has issued best practice guidance and the label cannot mislead as to the food’s nature/substance/quality, there is no legal duty to use a “may contain” label, nevermind a specific form of may contain wording. So, if a product is at risk of cross contamination from almonds, there is no obligation to state “may contain nuts”. Ditto if a peanut product is made on the same line: there is no duty to put “may contain peanut” on the packaging. In addition, the obligation to distinguish “peanut” from tree nuts applies to intentional ingredients.

Suppose a food company produces a biscuit which does not contain peanut or any tree nuts in the ingredients. The food company assesses the manufacturing process and decides there is a demonstrable and significant risk of cross contamination from both peanut and walnut. They could decide not to use any  precautionary label whatsoever. However, suppose they do decide to use a “may contain”, could they state:

  1. May contain peanut and walnut
  2. May contain peanut and nuts
  3. May contain nuts
  4. May contain peanut, or
  5. May contain walnut?

I asked the FSA whether “may contain nuts” could encompass peanut too and they confirmed:

“General statement such as “May contain nuts” will generally refer to both peanuts and tree nuts…”

Therefore, the company would be within their rights to use options 1, 2 or 3.

I don’t know whether 4 and 5 would be acceptable. Can a company pick and choose its may contains? Or does stating “may contain walnut” imply there isn’t a cross contamination risk from, for example, peanut?

Which companies bracket peanuts with nuts?

To me, it feels like a specific reference to peanut in a may contain warning is relatively unusual. Mars bars and Kelloggs Frosties spring to mind. However, the phrase is nowhere near as common as “may contain nuts”. Perhaps that’s because the cross contamination risk from peanut is rare compared to all the other tree nuts. Or perhaps the tendency is for manufacturers to lump peanuts and tree nuts together as “nuts” for may contains.

In practice, how many companies specify “may contain peanut” and how many use “may contain nuts” to mean both peanut and tree nuts? And for those who have some products stating “may contain peanut”, do they ALWAYS differentiate, or might some products in their range state “may contain nuts”?

It’s yet another may contain conundrum and one that is deeply unhelpful for those people only avoiding certain types of nuts. How frustrating if you are only avoiding peanut, to have to steer clear of products labelled “may contain nuts” potentially unnecessarily. And by specifying peanut or the type of tree nut in the “may contain” label, food companies would be reaching a wider customer base. Foodnavigator-USA.com reported last week how the “Nut Allergy Ecosystem” survey carried out by Rich Products showed how one child’s nut allergy impacts the shopping habits of a wide circle of people, including the child’s family, friends, classmates, teachers etc. The article pointed out that nut free labels are therefore a “missed business opportunity”. It seems to me the same is true for specific may contain details.

If anyone has information on those brands which differentiate between peanuts and other nuts in their precautionary labels, please do post a comment below – I would love to hear from you. I do plan to contact the leading supermarkets to see whether they specifically refer to peanut in their advisory labels – update to follow when I receive the replies.