With Easter coming up soon, displays of Easter chocolates are popping up everywhere. I was at the Masonville Mall Shoppers Drug Mart this past weekend, and a display of Easter bunnies caught my eye. I had a closer look, and I was excited to see that one brand of chocolate is completely peanut and nut safe, but right next to it was a brand with a peanut free logo that is NOT nut free.
It’s a very common mistake to assume that a peanut free logo means that a food is also free of tree nuts (all other nuts). You must read the ingredient list thoroughly to ensure that the product does not contain other nuts in the recipe AND look for brands that also have “may contain” labeling such as “this item may contain traces of soy”. If peanuts and nuts are not listed in the ingredients or the “may contain” statement, you know the item should be both peanut and nut safe. You still need to be alert, as some manufacturers have confusing or potentially incomplete “may contain” statements like Clif Bar.
These “may contain” statements are voluntary; that is, manufacturers do not need to include them on the label. In other words, when you see a label that does not have a “may contain” statement, you can’t determine if that product is safe until you call the manufacturer to ask if the item may contain traces of peanut or nuts.
To make matters more confusing, some companies are now including “contains” statements on their labels. This simply reiterates the top allergens that are actually contained in the recipe. The “contains” information won’t always be present and is redundant in any event, since you should already have read the ingredients list and seen your whether or not your allergen is listed there.
Now, back to the Easter chocolate I found this weekend and the potentially confusing labeling I spotted. This Carnaby brand Easter bunny caught my eye due to the peanut free logo on it. As always, I read the text on that logo, and it said that the chocolate is made in a peanut free facility. I could easily have assumed this was also nut free, but I then read the ingredients list and looked for any allergen statements after it, as always, and it disclosed “may contain traces of tree nuts” making it not safe for my peanut and nut allergic child. Remember, had there been no “may contain” statement, as these are voluntary, a call to the manufacturer would be needed to determine safety.
In contrast, right next to this product was completely peanut and nut safe Easter chocolate by Vadeboncoeur. The two brands of Easter chocolate were intermingled across two shelves, and I truly hope no one assumes that every package on that shelf is equally nut safe.
The Vadeboncoeur brand peanut and nut free Easter chocolate also has a peanut free logo. In contrast, the text on this logo said “Peanut Free Factory. Almond and Nut Free Too!” I of course read the ingredients list in full, which also has a reassuring “may contain” statement for eggs, and in bold text below the list, the box says Peanut, Almond, and Nut Free Factory. This combination of labeling statements is the best assurance you can get that a product is in fact peanut and nut safe.
You may be wondering if I bought Easter chocolate for my boys after all this label reading and photo taking. In fact, I did not, but I will be going back to the store for some on second thought. I hope this article will help you make safe choices for your family this Easter and always.
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