Parents of kids with extreme peanut allergies know to scour food labels when buying candies or snacks for their children. But even an extremely careful parent could be putting their child in danger. Federal law says that manufacturers have to list when certain common allergens (like peanuts) are present as an intended ingredient in food. But it’s voluntary to list when peanuts or tree nuts are made in the same factory as the non-nut product.
And with one in 13 children now suffering from peanut allergies, or roughly two per classroom, according to John L. Lehr, CEO, Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE), that food packaging loophole could be deadly. WTOP reports that Arlington, VA mom Jodi Meyer had a scare when she inadvertently gave her allergic child Trader Joe’s cookies, which had traces of peanut in the mix.
“If a person has a food allergy, the only way to prevent a potentially life-threatening reaction is to strictly avoid eating problem foods,” Lehr told us. “If you have any concerns about a product, call the manufacturer or simply do not eat it.”
Peanut allergies have increased 50 percent between 2007 and 2011, according to a data brief released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But help may soon be on the way. Doctors in Cambridge are currently experimenting with a procedure that feeds kids with the deadly allergy a small portion of peanut flour, according to Philly.com. After eating the flour four out of five children could successfully snack on a handful of peanuts.