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Warning for milk allergy sufferers (& dusting off my orange cape...)

(9 Posts)
freefrommum Fri 10-May-13 22:09:13

Just to let you know I'm in the process of reporting a product to the Food Standards Agency and my local Trading Standards agency after DS had an allergic reaction.

The product is Sunstart plain chocolate flavoured covered golden crunch biscuits. My childminder gave one of these to DS recently because the ingredients did not list any of his allergens ie milk, wheat, eggs, nuts. However, there was an additional allergy box which stated that the product contained 'soya and DAIRY'. DS vomited soon after (just as he got to school) and came out in hives all over. I really thought the school were going to have to administer his epi-pen for the 1st time but thankfully he didn't show any other symptoms and improved with just Piriton. The poor childminder was distraught that she'd missed the allergy box but I reassured her that she was right to read the ingredients not anything else as my understanding was that EU law stipulated that if any of the 14 allergens are in the product they MUST be listed in the ingredients, not any other allergy box. I checked this with the Anaphylaxis Campaign and they confirmed this. They also forwarded my email to the FSA and they too confirmed that a) the word MILK must be used, not dairy and b) it must be listed in the ingredients.

I find it particularly worrying that a product aimed specifically at the freefrom market can get it so very wrong. This product is still on sale throughout the UK eg Asda, Holland & Barrett and I'm worried that other milk allergy sufferers could make a similar mistake and become very ill or worse. AC actually told me that they had received complaints in the past about this product as it previously didn't even have the allergy warning for dairy but 2 milk allergy sufferers had become ill after eating them.

babybarrister Fri 10-May-13 22:21:00

I shall get my orange cape out for you - you will need to buy a lever arch file and start filing as my experience is that these things are an uphill battle ....

I have got compensation for my DS re milk in fruit juice but am still in the process of making formal complaints re both local authorities and then if necessary to the local government ombudsman

keep the AC in the loop as they have very good contacts with the FSA and keep a copy of the packet and contents ....

frazzledbutcalm Fri 10-May-13 22:30:04

Personally I always check the ingredients and the allergy advice warning. I'd also assume dairy means milk.
I've checked the ingredients on the asda website and from reading the ingredients alone you cannot tell this product contains milk ... But it does state dairy in the allergen advice.
Let's hope something is done about it, Law wise, but let's also hope others start to read all the information on the label.

freefrommum Fri 10-May-13 22:49:50

frazzled well from next year "contains" boxes will no longer be allowed for this very reason as they cause confusion. Yes, I would assume dairy meant milk and yes I would normally read all the info on the label but this was my childminder not me and I had always told her what the Anaphylaxis Campaign told me and that's the fact that it's the ingredients you must read as nothing else is covered by law (allergy boxes/advice is voluntary under current rules whereas the ingredients are mandatory).

Thanks for the advice babybarrister, I will prepare myself for battle! I do have the packaging but sadly the childminder threw out the biscuits as soon as she heard he was ill as she was terrified that he'd somehow get hold of another one. I might buy another box from Asda in case they want to test the biscuits themselves to check that they contain milk.

babybarrister Fri 10-May-13 22:57:53

yes - go and buy another packet asap - in my case the fruit juice was suddeny "off the menu" ....hmm

ariane5 Fri 10-May-13 22:59:24

Years ago ds1 nearly died (awful anaphylactic reaction) to a cake (iced bun) that the bakers said was dairy and egg free, they even had allergy advice posters up in the shop.

They denied the cake had made him ill and he was so ill we kept it just in case as knew it had something in it.
They kept on insisting they were right and wouldn't take down the incorrect allergy info and I was terrified somebody else would make the same mistake.

A few yrs later I bumped into an ex member of staff who remembered us (I made a huge fuss at the time!) And she told me the cake had contained egg white in the icing but that it was imported from belgium and they had done the allergy advice wrong but were all told to keep quiet and maintain that it didn't contain egg/milk.

Its really scary when you think you have checked and dc gets ill anyway, I even now check things ds1 has had hundreds of times in case of recipe changes. It is so worrying.

frazzledbutcalm Mon 13-May-13 12:50:29

I agree it's confusing. And it's wrong!
What annoys me is when it says may contain ... in my case wheat, yet wheat is not in the ingredients at all! Does that mean it is in but not mentioned, it's in the form of barley or similar, or made in a factory that deals with wheat products???
Why can't they just be straight??!!
ariane that's shocking they covered it up like that! If I was in that situation (shop staff) I would feel it was my moral duty to follow you/find you and tell you the truth.

mumof2beautifulgirls84 Tue 14-May-13 21:48:26

Wow that's terrible, hopefully they'll rectify their mistake but then I suppose it won't help those that have already bought some.
Without sounding horrid but surely the child minder should have realised that DAIRY means MILK?!.

freefrommum Wed 15-May-13 09:22:54

I'm sure she would've realised that dairy meant milk if she'd read that bit but she followed my original advice and only read the ingredients so missed the additional allergy warning. These warning boxes often say 'may contain' and we do in fact give DS some things that say may contain simply because his diet is limited as it is. That's a personal decision and I know it has risks. I think the childminder simply didn't see the allergy box or if she did, she thought it said 'may contain' rather than 'contains'. Anyway, whatever the reason, the simple fact is, if the recipe contains milk then it should be listed in the ingredients.

My local trading standards office are investigating as well as the FSA so will let you what happens.

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