I’ve written in the past about the potential perils of the seemingly innocuous mums and tots group, for the food allergic child. Just when I thought I was into the swing of dealing with taking my 3-year-old son, D, to playgroups, this morning I was abruptly reminded that nut safety isn’t something that can be mastered just through habit. Even when doing the same thing week in week out, you need to expect the unexpected.
We went to our usual Thursday morning playgroup where part way through, there is a break and the children sit at tables to have a biscuit and drink of juice. Each week I check with the lady in charge that the biscuits are McVities Rich Tea and therefore safe for D to eat. However, today when I was putting my £1 coin in the tin, I notice packets of cakes. It was another little boy’s birthday and his mum had brought in some shop-bought iced fairy cakes (from Tesco) for everyone to share. On checking the packet, there were no nuts in the ingredients list but they carried the advisory wording “Recipe: No nuts. Ingredients: Cannot guarantee nut free. Factory: No nuts”. However, given they were just a “may contain”, we didn’t bolt, but I knew that D would have to make do with a Rich Tea come break time.
When break time arrived, around 20 children sat around three tables and the organisers handed each a cake. With the exception of D. And his little sister. Although my daughter has no known allergies as yet, we avoid all nuts with her too, until such time as she can be tested. I also thought this was a good tactic for not making D think he was the complete odd one out. Mummy was depriving his sister of a cake too…
D made no bones of the fact that a Rich Tea was not an adequate substitute for a cake. I explained that the cakes might contain nuts and make him poorly. As he looked from child to child, all eating the cakes, in an attempt to mollify him, I found myself chirping “but don’t worry, after this, we’ll go to the supermarket and buy a cake which doesn’t have nuts!”.
So after playgroup, we trotted down to Tesco in Macclefield town centre where I spent an increasingly fraught 15 minutes or so reading every label, on every type of cake in the cake aisle. D is at the age where he has no problem repeating the same phrase or question 500 times over. “We hab chocolate cake? We hab chocolate cake, mummy?”. And on. And on. After he’d said it, oooh about 50 times, I was certainly regretting promising something I couldn’t deliver.
EVERYTHING said “may contain nuts”.
Cadbury milk chocolate mini rolls: may contain nuts.
Kipling pretty much anything: may contain nuts.
Nestle smarties cupcakes: may contain nuts.
Eventually, I found some Fabulous Bakin’ Boys flapjacks. Unfortunately, toddler son viewed these in the same light as the Rich Tea: a poor second for a chocolate cake.
I gave up, bought a bag of giant Cadbury buttons and hauled us all back to the car.
Anyway, moan over. I guess my point is, in an entire cake aisle, I was surprised that Tesco didn’t stock at least one option suitable for nut allergy sufferers. In our local Sainsbury’s, you can always usually count on finding a Just Love Food Company tray bake (see picture).
I’m actually going to buy some Fabulous Bakin’ Boy cupcakes, which come individually wrapped in sellophane, to keep in my bag, so I can whip them out should there be any further surprise birthday celebrations. In the meantime, I’m off to take a couple of paracetamol and inhale the remainder of the chocolate buttons.