steorra: Part of Saturn in the shade of its rings (Default)
[personal profile] steorra
(Cross-posted from [community profile] allergies and, with some variations, from my own journal, by the encouragement of [personal profile] literally.)

I have a potentially-fatal allergy to peanuts and walnuts.

I just went shopping. As I sometimes do, I looked through the section of fancy chocolate bars, trying to find something that didn't have traces of peanuts or walnuts. I ended up finding two that were labelled as safe for me and looked like things I might enjoy, and bought them both.

One of them was dark chocolate with mint. I checked the packaging carefully before buying it. The list of ingredients didn't include nuts, and there was no 'may contain traces' type warning that I could spot anywhere else around the back of the package. I probably checked several times; I usually do with chocolate, because it seems too good to be true when I find some I can actually have.

After I got home and unloaded all the groceries, I figured I'd have a bit of one of my new chocolate bars. I had decided on this mint one. I checked the back again, because it still seemed too good to be true. The back of the package has lists of ingredients in quite a few languages; English at the top, followed by Spanish, French, Greek, something Slavic in Latin letters, Swedish, and something that might be Portuguese, though it didn't contain any of the really obvious indicators of Portuguese.

One of these caught my eye, and I noticed that it had a 'may contain traces' warning. In fact, all the languages besides English do, warning against possible traces of milk and something else. I suspected the 'something else' might be nuts, but I wasn't sure. The French and Spanish were respectively 'fruits secs' and 'frutos secos', which literally means 'dry fruits', but I seemed to recall that that might mean nuts. I checked the German, which said 'trockenfruchten' (dry fruits), but given the lack of capitalization in the German, I figured it was likely a poor translation. The chocolate was produced by a Spanish company, so I figured I'd take the Spanish version as probably authoritative. I plugged 'frutos secos' into Google Translate, and sure enough, it came out as 'nuts'.

GRR!

That is a labelling failure that clearly someone ought to be made aware of. There should probably be a product recall. And I should probably attempt to inform the relevant people. I'd really rather not bother, but it should be done, so I guess I will try to do something about it...

The chocolate in question is "Dark Chocolate 70% Cocoa With Mint", produced by Valor Chocolates.
[personal profile] literally
 Their so-called gluten-free products really aren't. Their facilities that make the gluten-free mixes are only not gluten-free, but they use the same utensils, not even bothering to avoid cross contamination!


...Those of us who eat gluten free did not indulge in the baked goods offered in the closing baking event. The rolling pins, wooden spoons, and spatulas had previously been used to make gluten-full items. One General Mills spokesperson told us that the products had been cleaned and heated to 200 degrees. When she was told that heating didn’t remove gluten, she looked at us like were looney tunes. That was yet another educational piece of the gluten-free pie for General Mills. It was an unsettling moment for sure because if that information is not known or understood, to me it raises doubts about the status of their gluten-free products.


...A General Mills spokesperson addressed their gluten-free processing and talked about the order of processing gluten-full and gluten-free items and cleaning lines. Whoa! Furtive and surprised glances were exchanged among attendees. We were all under the impression that all of the gluten-free products were manufactured in a gluten-free facility. It turns out that some products are manufactured in a gluten-free section of General Mills (with “walls”), but not a dedicated facility. A subsequent check of the wording on the Chex boxes shows that they read, “Manufactured in a dedicated gluten-free environment.” Other gluten-free products are not manufactured in this section/”dedicated environment,” but in a part of the facility with gluten-containing products, hence, the mentionof cleaning lines and processing items in a certain order. I inquired and commented more on the testing of the products and the less than 20 ppm standard, urging the use of the GFCO testing and inspection to ensure I could eat the products safely. My questions were met with quotes on Codex standards and a statement that the GFCO is fine for small organizations. That wasn’t what I wanted to hear.

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Very Gluten Free

November 2013

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