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Snacks at nut free children's centre "not suitable for nut allergy sufferers" - views?

(17 Posts)
neolara Thu 10-Jan-13 16:14:58

Just wondered what others think about this.

My local children's centre run a toddler drop in group. They are supposedly nut free. The snacks (e.g. bread sticks, biscuits) they have for the kids are often labelled "not suitable for nut allergy sufferers due to manufacturing labels". One of the workers told me she had nearly put almond essence in the playdoh to make it smell nice but had changed her mind on a whim. Obviously I check everything anyway because my dd is still young so I just don't allow her to have the snacks and so there has not been a problem (at least for me).

neolara Thu 10-Jan-13 16:17:21

"manufacturing methods"

greenbananas Thu 10-Jan-13 19:04:10

"not suitable" usually means that it almost certainly will contain traces (e.g. has been made on the same machine as something with nuts in). You are right not to let your daughter eat that stuff.

shelsco Thu 10-Jan-13 21:18:38

Ds2 had major reaction to something containing traces of nuts a couple of months ago. We didn't know he was allergic to them until he was tested after the reaction. prior to that he had been ok with nuts.

Obviously now we check everything but I would be seriously annoyed if I went somewhere that described itself as nut free and then found out its products contained traces of nuts. it wouldn't be safe for my ds as it very obviously isn't nut free! Do they not understand the severity of some allergic reactions or the possibility of sensitisation?

neolara Thu 10-Jan-13 21:19:08

I don't let her eat it as in the past she has reacted to food labelled in this way. I guess I was wondering more if the centre should make sure the food they provide is suitable for nut allergy sufferers, given that they are supposedly nut free. Or whether they just are doing their bit by simply avoiding actual nuts.

trixymalixy Thu 10-Jan-13 22:33:16

They clearly need educating. It's wrong for them to claim to be nut free if they serve food that is not suitable for nut allergy sufferers.

Amerryscot Thu 10-Jan-13 22:39:09

They would have to make all the food from scratch, on the premises, to be able to claim nut free. Or pay a fortune for nut-free commercial products.

This is a free place? What do you expect?

trixymalixy Thu 10-Jan-13 22:41:50

But they do claim to be nut free. Why claim to be if your not going to actually bother.

Bagofmashings Thu 10-Jan-13 22:48:55

It's actually not that difficult or expensive to find nut free foods. If they claim to be 'but free' then they should be. I would complain.
Shuddering at the thought of almond oil in playdough, DS is always putting the stuff in his mouth.

Amerryscot Thu 10-Jan-13 22:58:59

Legally, any definition will depend on the detection limit using reasonable chemical analysis. This would probably be in the region of <20 parts per million, which would be known as 'below detection limit'.

If your child can detect below this, it is at your risk.

It is a pretty standard practice for food manufacturers to not use nuts as an ingredient, but to have a caveat of "traces of nuts" because of shared manufacturing equipment. In reality, the equipment will have been cleaned and sanitised for several hours, so it would be impossible to show traces of nuts. They are just doing it for 'elf and safety.

I am sure that families who are super-sensitive to PPB levels of nuts will not risk eating a digestive biscuit at a toddler group, whether it claims to be nut free or not.

Bagofmashings Thu 10-Jan-13 23:16:00

Amerryscott From what I gather there's a lot of debate about the 'may contain' labels and there are various reasons as to why they're printed on some packets. DS's allergy specialist told us that it means exactly what it says and that there is a risk that we shouldn't take. However there are pleanty of foods readily and cheaply available in the supermarket, that don't carry this warning. You'd have thought that if they claim to be nut free they'd read packets & choose foods that are suitable for nut allergy sufferers.

eragon Thu 10-Jan-13 23:25:51

I would expect any setting to read food labels and be aware of the food they are giving to the children. If they have made a claim of being nut free, it still , sadly need the parent to question what that means to them.

I work with children and I would never give a food with a may contain label if they were allergic to that food. Even if the parents did at home. As I am providing food for that child in my care.

Its pretty standard for certain foods to be high risk or previously safe foods to have a recipe change, and become unsafe.
In reality if we allergic consumers want to eat a product , we have to make an informed decision, rather than just thinking may contain is simply 'elf and safety'.

Due to my background in various child care settings over many years and being the parent of an allergic child I often give presentations on allergy and allergy management in schools, nurseries and preschool, and to early years students.
I have even visted some schools and gone in to the kitchen to check on the cooks understanding of allergy.
People who work with children need the following, medical back up with a treatment plan from a immunologist or gp or pead doc.
training in administering medication, and what symptoms to recognise etc. This is availble via local authority training.
But management re avoidance, food label reading is still missing from this training. Parents need to fill in this gap. Which is unsatifactory, as this depends on parents having been given correct medical advice in the first place.

btw my son has had reactions to foods with may contain. he chooses to avoid.

MmeLindor Thu 10-Jan-13 23:31:39

Why can't they give the DC fruit as a snack?

Before I started using MN, I would not have been so aware of the issues surrounding nut allergies, and that even a tiny amount of nuts could be dangerous.

Can you talk to them about this and say you just want to inform them of the difference between not putting nuts out as a snack, and being truly 'nut free' as required by a person with severe allergy.

ukey Tue 15-Jan-13 20:56:10

it's actually not that difficult or expensive to find nut free snacks such as biscuits and bread sticks, I think the staff are probably just unaware of the fact nut free should also mean free from traces, I'd simply mention to them the risk and also suggest where they may find safe alternatives, what brands to look out for and what to avoid.

neolara Thu 17-Jan-13 12:38:25

Thank you all for your views. I do actually give my dd things labelled with "traces of nut" as the consultant at Addenbrookes said the risk was almost certainly tiny. However, my view is that food actively labelled as "not suitable for nut allergy sufferers" is different to "traces of" and suggests the manufacturers think there is a much higher risk of contamination. This has been born out by my experience. My dd has eaten "not suitable" food on three occasions since diagnosis and on two occasion has reacted badly. On the other hand, she frequently eats "traces of" food and has reacted only to chocolate, which we now avoid.

When I spoke to the SENCO about the snacks, she clearly thought I was bonkers for suggesting they needed to check breadsticks and just avoiding nuts was sufficient. My concern was that they didn't really seem to have a clear grasp of what nut free actually meant and didn't really seem particularly willing to enter into a discussion. I think if they make no nut free promises then they are completely within their rights to do whatever they want, but if they say they are nut free, then they really need to get to grips with what it means. The SENCO did say they can't guarantee to be totally nut free because parents send in things all the time. While I understand they can't control the environment totally, I do feel that the snacks and play equipment the centre itself provides should be safe.

I think I'm going to have to see it as an opportunity to education them. I am confident that if my dd went to the actual nursery (as opposed to drop in toddler sessions) they would put in a suitable care plan. Up to now I've been very lucky as my dd attends a nursery which is run by someone who has family history of anaphylaxis so they has been completely fantastic about this issue. It's a bit scary sending my dd into an environment where the people meant to be caring for her seem not very clued up.

ukey Thu 17-Jan-13 17:10:03

I think it would be best to advise them to avoid anything which may contain, or not suitable for. Otherwise it will get too confusing for them.

ukey Thu 17-Jan-13 17:11:00

that will then make it safe for all nut allergy suffers as many avoid all traces of too.

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