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Risking Lives of Consumers

This title, Risking Lives of Consumers, may be dramatic, but it is the daily risk people with allergies take finding food. On April 12, 2023 the Washington Post published an article “To Comply with a new sesame allergy law, some businesses are adding sesame.” This was posted on Instagram. My friends always send me these types of article because they want to know if I am surprised. No, not surprised.

The Article

Let’s dig into the article. (here’s the link if you want to read it to).

From the Washington Post Instagram Page: “On Jan. 1, a law intended to safeguard the more than 1.5 million Americans with a sesame allergy — including the McDermott and Tibbs children (and, full disclosure, my son as well) — took effect. The law mandates, among other things, careful cleaning to prevent cross-contact between food products with and without sesame.

In a twist few would have expected, however, many food companies have chosen to add small amounts of sesame flour to products that were previously sesame-free, instead of conducting the careful cleaning required for foods without sesame.

The result? Foods that sesame-allergic kids and adults have eaten safely for years are now potentially life-threatening.”

The article interviews different moms who are shocked to find out ingredients in formerly safe products had changed. The article also leans into saying the law is the problem.

My Take

I have been suffering from food intolerances to allergies for a minimum of a decade. Companies have one goal: make a profit. They do not have to care if they are risking lives of people with allergies. The rules and regulations around food are limited to what the FDA recognizes as an allergen as well. In the case listed in the article, sesame is a recognized allergen. Yet, the food industry still added it to more products and to our knowledge did not share the change with their buyers.

The other issue is companies do not dig into how manufactures of ingredients make their products. In Wendy’s case it appears they never had their bun supplier notify them of an ingredient change. This meant Wendy’s could not warn their customers of new potential issue or threat to their safety. If they were aware and did not state it, since sesame is a recognized FDA allergen, they should have better ingredient change communication in place.

FIRSTHAND EXPEREINCE

I know first hand you cannot assume the ingredients in a safe product will always stay the same. I lose foods all the time. But since the regulations were loosened on the food industry around 2018 it has become a bigger issue at risking lives of those of us with allergies.

Many manufactures have chosen to add more allergens to their products because it’s cheaper on the bottom line. The fines involved around not properly labeling their product also do not scare them. At the time laws were changed I saw the biggest difference in my local restaurants. There were a few I could take a risk and eat at but after the law changed I Iost a majority of what had been safe-ish. I am down to 3 safe-ish places I can eat at.

Next Steps

You can learn more about Amy and Hidden Consumer Consulting on LinkedIn.

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