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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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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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Without wanting to tempt fate, it appears we’ve struck lucky with my son’s new school on the nut allergy front.

D starts reception class in September. We’ve recently been for our initial meeting with his teachers to talk about his allergies. Here’s how we got on…

Nut free school?

When I had a tour of the primary school last December, I was advised that, although the school was nut free, they hadn’t yet needed to impose a “nut ban”, as pupils didn’t tend to bring in nutty foods in their packed lunches. With this in mind, alarm bells went off for me when we received the new starters’ paper work. Although it was school policy that packed lunches should not include fizzy drinks, sweets or crisps, I could see no mention of any nut free policy.

Opinions vary on whether schools should impose nut bans. The Anaphylaxis Campaign website states there are pitfalls with a nut ban approach, namely:

“It would be impossible to provide an absolute nut-free guarantee so the danger is that allergic children may be led into a false sense of security. There is a strong case for arguing that food-allergic children will gain a better awareness of their allergies, and learn avoidance strategies, if they move in an environment where allergens may turn up unexpectedly.”

Another common argument is that, as children can be allergic to so many different things, it would be unworkable to make a school free of all allergens, and it would be unfair to ban nuts when pupils could have life threatening allergies to a range of other foods.

Michael Pistiner discussed the various pros and cons on the AllergyHome blog recently – see “Nut-free”? Points to ponder.

Preparing for the real world

D will have just turned 4 when he starts school. His awareness of his allergy is growing. We’re about to step up our efforts to instill the importance of not sharing food. However, for now, I’m not confident he would turn down the offer of a chocolate biscuit from a friend.

Back in February, I saw the photo of Amelie King with her eyes swelled closed, having touched peanuts in the playground on her first full day at school. Would D fully appreciate the danger if he put his hand in a glob of peanut butter spilled on a school canteen table? I doubt it.

I would therefore feel a lot happier if his primary school was nut free. I do understand the argument about needing to prepare him for the real world but I think this can come later in childhood. When he’s 18, mummy won’t always be there to help him cross a road, but I’d still hold his hand aged 4. The same goes for keeping him safe from nuts.

Impractical and unfair?

Whilst I see the point that it might not be practical to ban all allergens, if a small child has a life threatening food allergy, there is an argument for banning the allergen, whatever it is, at least from that child’s classroom. A Swindon school banned fish from lunchboxes recently, for this reason.

As regards the “fairness” argument, to me, that’s rather like saying to the 10 people on a sinking ship that as there’s only 5 lifejackets, nobody’s getting one. If school can be made safer at least for some allergic children, is that not a good thing? For children with multiple allergies including nuts, wouldn’t many of their parents be glad of a nut ban, so there’s one less potential killer in the midst?

Other safeguarding possibilities

That said, I have heard about some schools that, whilst not having a “nut ban”, they do put effective measures in place to keep children safe. For example, one mum has told me how her child has two buddies, who sit either side of him at lunchtime. They know not to swap food, not to touch each other and so on.

So we went to the meeting with the preference of a nut ban, but if that wasn’t to be, then ready to discuss safeguarding measures.

School dinners

When we arrived at school, our first port of call was the school kitchen. The manager immediately put our minds at rest and D will be having school dinners from September.

The school works on a two week menu system. The catering company provide an allergen chart for all of the ingredients the school will be using. None of the ingredients on the chart we were shown contained nuts or peanuts.

I have since learned that Cheshire East Council’s policy on nuts is:

“Due to nut allergies becoming more common place Cheshire East Catering has taken the decision to remove nuts from all school kitchens.”

Given D’s allergy, the school would now double check product ingredients labels and also check for “may contain nuts” warnings. If any product ever has a precautionary label, the kitchen will make D a separate meal. They will be sensitive in how this is explained to him, so he doesn’t feel singled out.

We discussed cross-contamination and, if there ever is a “may contain” product being used, the kitchen staff know to make D’s alternative meal in a separate area, with separate utensils etc.

The safety plan

I had prepared a list of questions to ask the school based on the details another nut mum had given me of the risk assessment her son’s school carried out (see Starting school with a nut allergy).

This is what we agreed:

General

  • We will provide the school with at least 2 (and preferably 3) medical kits (each containing an EpiPen, inhaler, spacer and anti-histamine). These will be kept in a classroom cupboard, the staff room and (if we can provide a 3rd kit) in the dining hall.
  • When D goes from his classroom to lunch, his “classroom” meds kit goes with him. Whilst he’s in reception, year 1 and year 2, this is looked after by a teacher. When he’s older, he will carry his meds in a pouch on him during breaks and lunchtime.
  • D’s photo, details of his allergies and emergency plan will be on the wall in the kitchen and the staff room.
  • All staff, including lunchtime assistants, are trained to spot a reaction and what to do in an emergency (administer the EpiPen, call 999 etc).
  • If D has a reaction for example in his classroom, another teacher will go to the staffroom to get the 2nd EpiPen, and vice versa.
  • Classroom equipment (for example, food packets in the home corner) will be vetted to ensure they don’t contain nuts.
  • School are aware of the risk from mouth blown instruments – we will provide his own recorder, for example, if ever needed.
  • All children have their own water bottles on a table in the reception class. D’s will be kept separately, so another child doesn’t use it by accident.
  • Children are encouraged to wash their hands regularly.

Lunch times

  • The children eating school dinners sit at different tables from the children with packed lunches. D’s teachers will arrange for buddies to sit either side of D, who know not to swap food etc.
  • Lunchtime staff will know who D is, where his meds are and are EpiPen trained.
  • Lunchtime staff will wipe down his table before he sits down.
  • Other parents will be advised of the “no nut” policy and asked not to include peanut / nut containing products in packed lunches, given there is a pupil with a life threatening allergy.

Celebrations

  • I will put together a safe treats bag, to be kept at school for any class celebrations.

One thing we didn’t cover, which I need to ask, is that I’m told in advance if there’s going to be a party day, so I can arrange safe food if need be. 

School trips

  • For school trips, the school kitchen provide a packed lunch. I’ve asked for school to please talk to me beforehand to discuss the arrangements for food and his medication kit and to confirm the member(s) of staff who could administer the EpiPen.
  • School have asked that I come along as a helper on trips (which I’m happy to do whilst he’s still little, but appreciate I need to be careful not to cramp his style as he gets older!).

Our homework

So, over the summer holidays, I need to:

  • Put together 2 (preferably 3) medicine kits.
  • Put together a safe snacks box.
  • Obtain up-to-date versions of D’s allergy action plan from our allergy doctors.
  • Obtain a letter from our GP confirming that D cannot eat peanuts or tree nuts (this is required by our Council before they provide a nut free diet).
  • Drum into D two key rules (which I’ve cribbed from another nut mum), namely “1 – don’t eat anything that someone else gives him, 2 – tell the teacher if he feels any sign of a reaction at all”.

Now I just need to persuade him to wear a uniform that doesn’t have Spiderman on it and we’re laughing (well, almost…).

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Here’s a little story about travel insurance and me.

Back in February, I booked our first abroad holiday post peanut allergy diagnosis. Giddy with having found an airline (Monarch) that said they would not sell and would ask passengers not to eat nuts, I merrily went ahead with booking our flights online. Would I like to book my airport parking too? Oh, go on then. Travel insurance as well? Why not!

Well, turns out there was a very good reason “why not”: Monarch’s travel insurance doesn’t cover “Pre-existing Medical Conditions”. Their website explains that a “Pre-existing Medical Condition” includes:

Monarch pre existing medical condition 14.3.14

Although it’s been at the back of my mind (and on my travel to do list) to “check travel insurance would cover anaphylaxis”, I hadn’t got round to it. Then I saw a tweet from a fellow allergy mum that spurred me into action. She’d been quoted £140 for anaphylaxis cover for her little one…

I called the insurers with two questions:

  1. Would our policy cover my son if he suffered anaphylaxis, and
  2. If not, how much would it cost to amend the policy so that it did.

The answer to question 1 was straightforward: “no”. You’d think the answer to question 2 would be simple too. However, alas, as I had a “flight policy”, anaphylaxis cover could not simply be added. I would need to cancel my existing policy and take out a new policy. Okay, so let’s do that then… Not so fast, first I needed to be transferred to the sales team to arrange the new policy. There followed an excruciating conversation about what level of cover I required (no matter how many times I said it, it seems my answer of “the same as the one I’m cancelling, but with anaphylaxis covered” wasn’t the appropriate response). Once I’d agreed to “bronze” cover or “second level cover”, or whatever it was, it was back to the medical conditions team, to go through the health screening questions, before someone could tell me the increased price.

Long story short, after being transferred round the houses, they could insure my son and his allergies, eczema and asthma… for an additional £80. If I hadn’t heard about someone having a £140 quote, I might have fallen off my chair. Apparently, if I wanted to cancel the policy, I’d need to be transferred to yet another department who would arrange a pro rata refund, minus a £20 admin fee.

Allergy UK suggests the following in respect of travel insurance:

Allergy UK helpful insurers

So I told Monarch I’d think about it and gave Worldwide Travelplan a call. I spoke to a single person in respect of both the price and the health questions, there was no technical jargon and the uplift for allergy, eczema and asthma cover was around £15.

Then back to Monarch to arrange the cancellation of the first policy. They couldn’t confirm the amount of my refund. This information would follow. Can you guess what’s coming? Yes, a call two days later to say I wouldn’t be getting a refund as, although my holiday hadn’t yet started, I’d already had the benefit of “cancellation cover” for a month.

Moral of the story?

  • Check whether a travel insurance policy covers anaphylaxis before you buy.
  • Act quickly (within the 14 days cooling off period) if you realise allergies aren’t covered and you need to cancel.
  • Definitely consider getting a quote from Worldwide Travelplan!

If anyone has any recommendations for allergy friendly travel insurance companies, please do post a comment below – I’d love to hear from you (for next year!).

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Are you searching for safe foods for your nut allergic child? Whether you are hunting for nut free baby food, biscuits or birthday cake … looking for safe ingredients to cook from scratch or for ready meal brands you can trust … find suggestions here, in the Nutmums.com nut free food directory!

Below is an A-Z list of food manufacturers, which includes both:

  • Dedicated “nut free” food brands; and
  • Details of other food manufacturers which, according to their product labels or information on their website, do produce some nut free products.

Manufacturers do change their recipes (and their production arrangements), so please do check the product label for yourself each time, and make your own enquiries of the manufacturer, if you are in any doubt about whether something is safe.

I will add to the list as I come across more nut free brands and products … and do let me know if you have any product recommendations!

If you prefer to browse by the type of food, please see the following pages:

The A-Z of nut free food

A

Alpro

(yoghurts, soya milk)

Note: For more information on Alpro soya’s nut free status, see Alpro’s well that ends well.

Amy’s Kitchen

(does not use peanuts) (meals)

Nut allergy information Amys Kitchen

Anniversary House Sugarcraft

(cake toppers)

Note: Creative Party confirmed by email in August 2014 that “Our cake toppers do not contain nuts, however some of the colours used are produced in a factory where nuts are present”. If I can find out more details, I will update this entry.

B

Bannisters’ Farm

(jacket potatoes)

Screen Shot Bannisters 16.3.14

Barfoots

(sweetcorn bites)

Note: Barfoots confirmed by email in March 2014 that “Sweetcorn Bites are made in facility that is free from nuts.  We have a strict Nut Free site policy that doesn’t allow any nuts on site, including in the staff canteen”. Barfoots also advised that the sweetcorn is grown on farms with nut free policies and the growers and factories are regularly audited to check compliance with the policies.

Barkat

(bread, cereals, crackers, ice cream cones, pasta shapes)

The website listing for the alphabet shapes pasta (for example) states:

Nut allergy information Barkat

[see below – Cassandra’s comment regarding ice cream cones]

Beenies

(sweets)

Nut allergy information Beenies

Beyond Dark

(chocolate)

Note: Beyond Dark advised me in March 2014  that their product and manufacturing  are totally nut free.

BFree

(bread, rolls, bagels, wraps)

Nut allergy information BFree

Big Oz 

(cereals)

Nut allergy information Big Oz

 

Briannas

(salad dressing)

The website listing for the saucy ginger mandarin dressing (for example) states:

Screen Shot Briannas 18.3.14

C

Cadburys

(certain chocolate bars, buttons and drinks are listed as “nut absent”).

Note: As at 16 March 2014, the nut absent selection included Creme Egg, Twirl, Crunchie, Flake, Buttons and more…

Calypso

(soft drinks, ice lollies)

Nut allergy information Calypso

Carr’s

(savoury biscuits)

Note: United Biscuits produce a list of Products suitable for a nut and peanut avoidance diet, which is regularly updated. 

Celtic Chocolates

(chocolates)

Note: A copy of Celtic Chocolates nut statement is available on request by emailing the company. Whilst they don’t state their products are “nut free”, as at 14 March 2014 their policy said “… We do not use nuts in the factory and none of our ingredients contain nuts. We prohibit staff from consuming nuts in the canteen or bringing nuts on site and conduct spot checks to ensure this rule is adhered to …”

The Chocolate Alchemist

(chocolate coins, stocked by John Lewis)

Clive’s Pies

(pies)

Note: Clive’s Pies told me at the Allergy Show in October 2013 that whilst the factory in which the pies are made does handle nuts, the nut products are made on a different product line and a different day to the pies.

Coconut Dream

(milk alternative drinks)

Nut allergy information Coconut Dream

Cooks’ Ingredients

Note: Waitrose produce a list of Waitrose Own Label Products Suitable for those Avoiding Nuts and Peanuts, which is regularly updated. 

Cook’s Ketjap Manis

(soy sauce)

Note: Wingyip advised by email in March 2014 that the manufacturer “had confirmed that there are no traces of nuts in the product”.

Coyo

(coconut milk yoghurt)

The website listing for the natural yoghurt (for example) states:

Nut allergy information Coyo

Crawford’s

(biscuits)

Note: United Biscuits produce a list of Products suitable for a nut and peanut avoidance diet, which is regularly updated. 

Crespo

(olives)

Nut allergy information Crespo

D

D&D Chocolates

(chocolates)

Nut allergy information D&D

De Cecco

(pasta)

Note: De Cecco confirmed by email in March 2014 that “the pasta is produced in a nut free environment”.

Delamere Dairy

(soya drink)

Discovery Foods

(Mexican food)

Note: Discovery Foods produce an allergen report, listing “contains” and “may contain” information for each product.

Dolmio

(pasta sauces)

Note: Dolmio advised me in August 2013, that:

“If there’s a possibility of cross contamination then the product will have a suitable warning on the packaging… In effect, any products which don’t show nuts in the ingredients list or carry an appropriate warning can be taken as not containing nuts.”

Doves Farm

(pasta, cookies, baking ingredients)

The website listing for Lemon Zest Cookies (for example) states: “These award-winning cookies are baked in our dedicated gluten free bakery in Wiltshire that does not use gluten, milk, peanut, egg or soya.”

Their website FAQs give more detail, see for example Q: What allergens do you have onsite, and where?

DS Gluten Free

(bread, biscuits and pasta)

Note: DS Gluten Free told me at the Allergy Show in October 2013 that if a DS Gluten Free product doesn’t have a “may contain nuts” warning, it has been made in a nut free environment.

Duerr’s

(mincemeat)

Note: Duerr’s confirmed by email in December 2013 that their mincemeat:

“does not require a nut warning as there is no possibility of cross contamination; the production site is a nut free site”

E

Ella’s Kitchen

(baby and toddler foods)

Nut allergy information Ella's Kitchen

Eskal Nut Free Butter

(nut free butter)

Nut allergy information Eskal

F

The Frank Food Company Limited

(FRANK snack bars)

Screen Shot FRANK 17.3.14

Frebaco

(muesli and porridge)

Available from Tesco:

Frebaco fruit muesli

 

Free & Easy

(soups, sauces, ready meals, curry pastes and more)

Nut allergy information Free and Easy

Free From Italy

(pasta sauces)

Le Conserve della Nonna Pasta Sauce range includes tomato & basil, tomato & chilli and green pesto (this is made with pine nuts – for more information on pine nut allergy see the Anaphylaxis Campaign’s advice).

Nut allergy information Free From Italy

Friendly Food and Drink Company

(chutneys, jams, sauces and more)

Nut allergy information Friendly Food and Drink

G

Gefen

(sauces)

Goody Good Stuff

(sweets)

Nut allergy information Goody Good Stuff

Gourmet Garden

(herbs and spices)

Nut allergy information Gourmet Garden

Green Giant

(sweetcorn)

Note: Green Giant’s confirmed by email in August 2013 that:

“As part of our precautions every product, which we produce, is subject to a thorough safety evaluation by trained personnel. During the evaluation any possible allergens that are present from the raw ingredients through to the finished product will be identified, documented and if present labelled on the product packaging.”

Grenada Chocolate Company

(chocolate)

Nut allergy information Grenada Chocolate

H

Haribo 

(sweets)

Note: Haribo UK confirmed by email in August 2013 that “we do not use any nuts on site with the exception of coconut”. You can contact them for a full list of their sweets (produced in the UK) that are “suitable for nut free diets”.

Heavenly Cake Company

(cakes)

Nut allergy information Heavenly Cake Company

Heinz

(various)

Note: Heinz provide two lists, one of foods “suitable for a nut free diet” and one of foods “suitable for a peanut free diet. Request your copy here. The listed products do not contain any nut or peanut containing ingredients. The lists detail certain products from brands such as Amoy, Aunt Bessies, Baked Beans, Ross, Weight Watchers, plus various products such as sauces (for example Daddies, HP, Lea & Perrins) pasta and soups.

Helen Browning’s Organic

(hot dogs and speedy sausages)

Nut allergy information Helen Browning Sausages

Hipp Organic

(baby and toddler foods)

Note: The product section of the Hipp website allows you to filter products by “Peanut free” and “Other nut free”.

Holy Cow!

(curry sauces)

The website listing for Delhi Tikka Masala (for example) states:

Nut allergy information Holy Cow

Hovis

(bread)

Nut allergy information Hovis

I

Ilumi

(meals)

Nut allergy information Ilumi

Inka 

(corn snacks)

The website listing for Roasted Giant Corn (for example) states:

Nut allergy information Inka Snacks

Innocent

(smoothies and juices)

Nut allergy information Innocent

Isabel’s

(baking products)

Nut allergy information Isabels

It’s Nut Free

(cake bars, cereals, chocolates, snack bags)

Nut allergy information It's Nut Free

J

Jacob’s

(biscuits, crackers)

Note: United Biscuits produce a list of Products suitable for a nut and peanut avoidance diet, which is regularly updated. 

Just Love Food Company

(cakes)

Nut allergy information Just Love Food Company

K

Kellogg’s 

(some of their breakfast cereals)

Kelly’s of Cornwall

(ice cream)

Note: Kelly’s of Cornwall ice cream to be made in a factory which handles nuts from late 2015 (see announcement from Kelly’s).

Note: Kelly’s confirmed by email in August 2013 that:

“All of our ice cream in tubs (1Ltr / 2Ltr etc) is made in a nut free factory so it will be suitable for people with nut allergies. “

Kettle Chips

(crisps)

Nut allergy information Kettle Chips

Kingsmill

(bread, muffins, crumpets etc)

Note: Kingsmill confirmed by email in March 2014 that “our bread does not contain any nuts”.

Kinnerton

(chocolates, including Easter Eggs)

Nut allergy information Kinnerton

Kirsty’s

(meals)

Nut allergy information Kirstys

Koko

(milk alternative made with coconut milk)

Kooky Dough

(ready to bake cookie dough)

Note: Although Kooky Dough used to make a “Crunchy Choc ‘n’ Nut” dough, they confirmed by email in March 2014 that they no longer produce any products with nuts and have moved to a peanut free factory. “Nuts are not allowed on site and we adhere to very strict regulations to ensure this.”

L

Little Pasta Organics

(pasta sauce for kids)

The website listing for Spinach + Broccoli (for example) states:

Nut allergy information Little Pasta Organics

Lyle’s Golden Syrup

(syrups)

Nut allergy information Lyle's

M

Marigold

(stock, yeast flakes)

The website listing for Engevita yeast flakes (for example) states:

Nut allergy information Marigold

Matthew Walker

(Christmas pudding)

Nut allergy information Matthew Walker

McVitie’s

(biscuits)

Note: United Biscuits produce a list of Products suitable for a nut and peanut avoidance diet, which is regularly updated. The July 2015 list includes milk chocolate digestives, ginger nuts, jaffa cakes, rich tea and more…

Minara

(curry sauces)

Nut allergy information Minara

Mortimer Chocolate Company

(chocolate powder for drinks and baking, melt and dip chocolates)

Nut allergy information Mortimer

N

Nestle

(hot drinks, confectionery, yoghurts, cereals and more)

Newburn Bakehouse 

(bread, rolls, tea cakes etc)

Note: Newburn Bakehouse told me at the Allergy Show in October 2013 that “Newburn Bakehouse”  is the Warburtons’ gluten free range, which is all nut free and made in a nut free environment.

New Forest Ice Cream

(ice cream, sorbets)

Nut allergy information New Forest Ice Cream

Nut Free Chocolate People

(chocolates)

Nut allergy information Nut Free Chocolate People

O

Oat Dream

(milk alternative drinks)

Nut allergy information Oat Dream

Organix

(some of their baby and toddler foods)

Note: Organix produce an allergen data sheet, detailing whether nuts are “in recipe” and “in factory” for each product.

Oreo

(biscuits)

Nut allergy information Oreo

Orgran

(cakes, pasta, bread and snacks)

Nut allergy information Orgran

P

Penn State

(pretzels)

Note: The label states “These snacks were produced in a nut free factory”.

Pennywise

(savoury biscuits)

Note: United Biscuits produce a list of Products suitable for a nut and peanut avoidance diet, which is regularly updated. 

Peter Rabbit Organics

(baby and toddler foods)

Nut allergy information Peter Rabbit

Plamil

(egg free mayonnaise, chocolate, carob, milk alternative)

Nut allergy information Plamil

Pom-Bear

(children’s teddy shaped crisps)

Prewetts

(porridge, chicory)

Note: Prewetts told me at the Allergy Show in October 2013 that although they make, for example, nut-containing cereals, they also have products (such as their porridge and chicory) which are nut free and made in a nut free environment.

Punjaban Curry Bases

(curry sauces)

Nut allergy information Punjaban

Purbeck Ice Cream

(ice cream, sorbets)

Nut allergy information Purbeck Ice Cream

R

Rizopia

(rice pasta)

Nut allergy information Rizopia

Robertson’s

(mincemeat)

Note: Robertson’s confirmed by email in December 2013  that “our mincemeat is nut free, and our factory is a controlled site, with no nuts being permitted on site.”

Robinsons

(fruit shoots, fruit squash)

Note: Robinson’s confirmed by email in August 2013 that “Robinson’s Fruit Squashes and Fruit Shoots do not contain traces of nuts.”

S

St Dalfour

(fruit spreads)

Note: St Dalfour confirmed by email in August 2013 that  “None of our Fruit Spread products contains nuts, or is made in a facility handling nuts.”

Superjam

(jam)

Sweet Mandarin

(sauces)

Nut allergy information Sweet Mandarin

T

Tasha’s Dairy Free Delights

(chocolates made from Plamil chocolate)

Nut allergy information Tasha

V

Vivesoy

(soy drinks)

Nut allergy information Vivesoy

W

Weetabix

(Weetabix, Oatibix, Ready Brek, Weetos)

Note: Weetabix produce a nut & peanut list detailing “contains” and “may contain” information for each product.

Wowbutter

(nut free butter)

Nut allergy information Wowbutter

Z

Zero Zebra

(chocolate)

Nut allergy information Zero Zebra

See also:

Supermarket product lists

Certain supermarkets have product guidance lists for nut allergy sufferers (please do check you are referring to the most up-to-date version):

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When my son was initially diagnosed as allergic to peanuts, the hospital doctors advised us:

  • To check the ingredients list on food packets and avoid anything containing peanuts and nuts.
  • That he could eat products that say “may contain traces of nuts”.

We were told that, in the UK and EU, the ingredients list on food packaging must be accurate. I remember asking why, in that case, food companies bothered with “may contain” wording? I was told “it’s just the lawyers”. Curious, I decided to look into the UK’s food allergen labelling laws, to find out:

  • What details food manufacturers must provide.
  • The point of “may contain” wording.
  • How the existing UK food allergen labelling laws are going to change in December 2014. Continue Reading
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Welcome to the Nutmums.com restaurant directory!

Click HERE to enter the directory, where you will find recommendations (by other nut mums!) of restaurants, pubs and cafés for people with nut allergies.

By way of background…

Last summer, stood outside the Tower of London, with two hungry children, I discovered that the tub of cream cheese I had brought to make up bagels had exploded inside my bag. We needed to buy food on the go. Looking around, we spotted branches of EAT, Pret A Manger, Subway and more. Each with queues out of the door. Which was our best bet for finding a nut free sandwich for our son? We didn’t know.

It struck me that, rather than guess where to try first, what was needed was an online directory of safe places to eat out with a nut allergy. Nut mums and dads are venturing into eateries every day asking essentially the same question: “can you provide a safe meal for my nut allergic child?”. Let’s pool that knowledge.

Using the directory

So here’s the start of a nut allergy friendly restaurant directory. Ultimately, I’d like it to become a resource that means wherever you are in the UK, you can find a nut allergy friendly restaurant that a fellow nut allergy parent has road tested before you, which inspired confidence in the way it catered for nut allergies.

If you have any recommendations, whether for a national chain, or your local coffee shop, please submit a review by using this form.

Here are the reviews so far:

National chains

  • Bella Italia
  • Byron Hamburgers
  • Carluccio’s
  • Croma
  • Chiquito
  • Giraffe
  • Harvester
  • Jamie’s Italian
  • McDonalds
  • Pizza Express (Note: Pizza Express now serve “Noci” (bowls of almonds and cashews). Petition here.)
  • Pizza Hut
  • Prezzo
  • TGI Friday’s
  • Toby Carvery
  • Wagamama
  • Zizzi
  • Domino’s (takeaway)

England

London and South East England

East of England

North West

Cheshire

Cumbria

Lancashire

Manchester

South West

West Midlands

Yorkshire & The Humber

Barnsley

Huddersfield

Leeds

Wakefield

Scotland

Edinburgh

Glasgow

Scottish Highlands

Wales

Anglesey

North Wales

View More

Branches of the following national chains have all received the thumbs up for being nut allergy friendly by Nutmums.com readers.

I’ve included snippets of the allergy information that the various restaurants have on their websites. However, whilst the websites often say “we cannot guarantee no cross contamination” (or statements to that effect), it seems that when you visit the restaurant, the staff are often reassuring and prepared to explain the allergen control measures that they have in place.

If you have discovered a nut safe restaurant, pub or café, please scroll down for details of how to submit a review.

To return to the main restaurant directory page, click here.

Bella Italia

http://www.bellaitalia.co.uk/

They say:

Their allergy guide states (as at 29 January 2014):

“Nut allergies – we cannot safely make any promise ‘regarding guaranteed’ nut free meals due to the nature of our business and supply chain cross contamination risks.”

You say:

“They have a limited selection of food for nut allergies but are extremely clued-up about it, they were very reassuring when we ordered and checked everything with the chef…”

Lisa Humphray, 29 January 2014

(Click here for full review.)

Byron Hamburgers

http://www.byronhamburgers.com/

They say:

Their website includes an allergy information page.

You say:

“… great allergy info and brilliant, helpful and understanding staff…”

Sarah, 13 March 2014

(Click here for full review.)

Carluccio’s

http://www.carluccios.com/

They say:

The children’s menu states (as at 10 January 2014):

“Due to the presence of gluten and nuts in our kitchens, we are unable to guarantee the absence of these allergens in our children’s menu items. Please ask about any other special dietary requirements.”

You say:

“… I was very reassured by the professionalism of the staff… The meal was lovely and the staff were attentive… Our child loved the food and being allowed to participate fully in the social experience… When we first entered the bewildering world of multiple food allergy eating in a restaurant seemed like something we would never do as a family. Our trip to Carluccio’s was a huge step in terms of building our confidence and supporting our child with trying new things in a safe way. We could not be happier with our experience.”

allergymama, 7 October 2013

(Click here for the full review.)

“The manager couldn’t have been more helpful… The staff had clear allergy information about menu items and we felt very reassured by this. I would certainly return.”

A nutmum from Bolton, 6 October 2013

(Click here for the full review.)

“Absolutely inspired confidence. We would definitely visit again.”

Louise, 8 February 2014

(Click here for the full review.)

Chiquito

http://www.chiquito.co.uk/

They say:

The menus page on the Chiquito website includes a link to an allergy guide available to download.

You say:

“extensive and reassuring allergy information on the website, and very helpful staff inside.”

A nutmum from Bolton, 1 December 2013

(Click here for the full review.)

Giraffe

http://www.giraffe.net/

They say:

The FAQs on the Giraffe website say:

“I can’t eat gluten / nuts / dairy – can I still eat in your restaurant? Yes! Download our hand allergy charts from our menu pages to read through before you visit or please speak to the manager on duty who can go through it with you.”

Here’s a link to their allergy information, which (as at 10 January 2014) states “VERY IMPORTANT – please note – we use peanut butter in our kitchens”.

You say:

“The larger chains such as … Giraffe have also been great…”

Lara Traill, 30 December 2013

Harvester

http://www.harvester.co.uk/

They say:

Their children’s menu includes the following note (as at 10 January 2014):

“All our food is prepared in a kitchen where nuts … are present and our menu descriptions do not include all ingredients – if you have a food allergy, please let us know before ordering. Full allergen information is available.”

You say:

“The Harvester is great for allergies … They could not have been more welcoming and accommodating. We actually felt that our daughters would be safe. That constant fear we all know of when we do brave eating out was really reduced.”

A nut mum, 4 October 2013

(Click here for the full review.)

Jamie’s Italian

https://www.jamieoliver.com/italian/

They say:

The menu section on the Jamie’s Italian website has a link to an allergen statement.

You say:

“Jamie’s Italian is also very good and the branches we’ve visited have always been able to accommodate us confidently and discreetly.”

Lara Traill, 30 December 2013

“Just back from Scotland (Edinburgh and Glasgow). I can recommend both Prezzo and Jamie’s Italian chains as very accommodating for food allergies. They didn’t seem phased by my toddler’s list of seven different types of food allergies. I was assured by both restaurants that all their restaurants throughout the UK are managed the same way regarding allergies.”

Sharon, 4 June 2014

McDonalds

http://www.mcdonalds.co.uk/ukhome.html

They say:

The McDonald’s UK website has a meal builder tool, where you can check the “ingredients and allergen information” for each item on the menu. As at 10 January 2014, it states:

“We are aware of the serious health risk to people who are allergic to whole peanuts, nuts or nut derivatives. These are therefore excluded as ingredients from all our main menu. However we cannot categorically state that our products are 100% free of these ingredients, because as with all food manufacturers there is always the possibility of cross-contamination at some point in the food chain.”

You say:

“… I am fairly sure that every item McDonalds serves, including desserts, is nut free. There is a complete guide to the top 14 allergens on the back of the sheet of paper you get on your tray and last time I looked, nuts were negative for every single item.”

Alison Hobson, 4 October 2013

“…all very straightforward and reassuring and I’m so glad we now always have a kid and allergy friendly fallback option when out and about in the UK.”

Louise, 27 May 2014

Pizza Express (Note: Pizza Express now serve “Noci” (bowls of almonds and cashews). Petition here.)

http://www.pizzaexpress.com/

They say:

Both the children’s Piccolo menu and allergen and suitability information are available online. Items marked Contains nuts contain nuts or nut oils. As at 10 January 2014, the menu states that:

“Although dishes without this symbol are made without nuts, there is a possibility that traces of nuts may still be found in them”.

Diners are also asked to “Please highlight your dietary requirements to our team”.

You say:

“On the rare occasion we have ventured out… Pizza Express have been able to cater for D’s allergy and have inspired confidence on each visit.”

Louise, 3 March 2013

(Click here for the full review.)

“They were very reassuring throughout…”

Carly Bartlett, 12 February 2014

(Click here for the full review.)

“The larger chains such as Pizza Express… have also been great…”

Lara Traill, 30 December 2013

Pizza Hut

http://www.pizzahut.co.uk/

They say:

Pizza Hut have a nutritional and allergy information sheet available to download. As at 10 January 2014, the gluten free pizza base is marked “N” for peanut and treenuts (whereas the pan and Italian pizza bases are marked “C”, signifying a cross-contamination risk). See Pizza Hut’s allergy information for full details.

You say:

 “Pizza Hut also has lots of information on line – and a recent visit for a friend’s birthday party tea went by without incident!”

A nutmum from Bolton, 6 October 2013

“Pizza Hut is great for kids … Pleasantly surprised just how organised pizza hut were they had their allergy folder which listed every ingredient U would want on ur pizza all colour coded & they label pizza b4 it goes into stove:-) … def recommend it”

Maria May, 10 January 2014

(Click here for the full review.)

Prezzo

They say:

Prezzo have an allergy information sheet on their website. As at 29 March 2014, it states:

“Please take note that the risk of cross-contamination during the preparation of the dish in the restaurant kitchen IS NOT taken into account on this
data.
Owing to the existence of the Green Pesto within our kitchens, we CANNOT guarantee that our dishes are without nuts.”

You say:

“Can recommend Prezzo restaurant in Preston allergy info excellent and felt safe they understood allergies”

lovedisney, 27 March 2014

(Click here for the full review.)

“Just back from Scotland (Edinburgh and Glasgow). I can recommend both Prezzo and Jamie’s Italian chains as very accommodating for food allergies. They didn’t seem phased by my toddler’s list of seven different types of food allergies. I was assured by both restaurants that all their restaurants throughout the UK are managed the same way regarding allergies.”

Sharon, 4 June 2014

TGI Friday’s

http://www.tgifridays.co.uk/

They say:

Their children’s menu (available for children up to the age of 10 years) says:

“Concerned about the presence of allergens in our foods? Please ask your server for more information about any dish ingredients.”

Detailed allergen information is also available on their website.

You say:

“… We couldn’t have asked for more…. the manager came over to us with the folder they have containing all the allergy information, checked what T wanted to eat then went to the kitchen and brought out the packaging for us to check ourselves to ensure it was safe. It makes such a difference when places are organised like this!”

Alison Hobson, 18 December 2013

(Click here for the full review.)

Toby Carvery

http://www.tobycarvery.co.uk/

They say:

Their website has a Nutritional and allergy information page, which (as at 20 April 2014) states:

“All our food is prepared in a kitchen where nuts, gluten and other allergens are present, so it’s impossible for us to fully guarantee separation of these items in storage, preparation or cooking.”

You say:

“The staff are always very helpful and on each occasion they have gone and checked with the chef who said that they don’t have any nuts/nut based products in the kitchen.”

Sharon McCormack, 20 April 2014

(Click here for the full review.)

Wagamama

http://www.wagamama.com/

They say:

The allergy info on their website states “if you have a food allergy… please inform your server upon arrival and they will be able to suggest the best dishes for you”. You can also use the dietary menu filter on the site, to show recipes that don’t contain peanuts and/or tree nuts.

You say:

“For us, the absolute hands down winner is Wagamamas. Their allergy menu is very easy to navigate and the food is quick, plentiful and yummy.”

Lara Traill, 30 December 2013

(Click here for the full review.)

Zizzi

http://www.zizzi.co.uk/

They say:

The special diets section of their website brings up a “gluten free” menu which (as at 10 January 2014) states:

“We’re very careful to make sure that we list every ingredient in our cooking, though it’s sadly impossible for us to guarantee our busy kitchens are 100% allergen free. If you have any specific concerns, let us now and we’ll do our best to help.”

The bambini menu states:

“if you need us to tweak a dish for your bambini, please just ask. some of our dishes contain nuts”

You say:

“The larger chains such as … Zizzi … have also been great…”

Lara Traill, 30 December 2013

Where do YOU eat out with your nut allergic child?

Have you eaten out somewhere that was able to cater for your child’s food allergies? If you’ve found a restaurant, cafe or pub which inspires confidence in the way it caters for the nut allergic customer, please share your recommendation here:

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