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Peanut Allergies


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26 replies to this topic

#1 onetoughcookie

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Posted 08 June 2007 - 05:41 AM

A potential client is asking me about peanut free cakes. Now, I know the basics
about cross-contamination, and checking the labels on ingredients. Is there anything else I need
to know? Can anyone recommend a good resource for info

I've always said no in the past to people who have peanut allergy concerns, but this person
was recommended to me by a good client. I hate to say no, but don't want to send the kiddies
into anaphylactic shock.
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#2 K8memphis

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Posted 08 June 2007 - 05:45 AM

I would not take the risk myself. How can you be sure your area is peanut free from previous usage?

#3 onetoughcookie

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Posted 08 June 2007 - 05:52 AM

I would not take the risk myself. How can you be sure your area is peanut free from previous usage?

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I haven't used peanut butter in anything for quite some time now....purely by coincidence, too.
That said, I've been reading my ingredient labels and the only iffy ingredient I have on hand would
be cocoa and chocolate. Now, I'd probably suggest to the client we stay away from those
flavors, make sure all utensils, pans, and equipment is scrubbed down.

The National Restaurant Association has a pamplet on this subject, and I've requested a copy.
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#4 fionab

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Posted 08 June 2007 - 06:07 AM

Hi, I'm 47, and I've been deathly allergic to peanuts since I was an infant. I started out baking cookies when I was seven or eight and have since progressed to scratch puff-pastry, baklava, and other wonderful things:).

I use King Arthur flour, Callebaut bulk chocolate, organic bulk cocoa, grocery store butter, grocery store sugar, and just about anything else -- as long as you cleaned between whatever it is you last made and the peanut allergy person's baked goods, I don't see the problem.

I use walnuts, pecans, almonds, and hazelnuts all the time -- it's the peanuts that make my throat itch from 10 feet away -- and even if someone ate it the night before, I can still smell it on their breath at lunchtime the day after.

But honestly, your normal thorough washdown should be good:).

#5 K8memphis

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Posted 08 June 2007 - 06:26 AM

But honestly, your normal thorough washdown should be good:).

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'Should be' is good enough if it is for yourself. 'Should be' is not good enough for my retail establishment.

#6 fionab

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Posted 08 June 2007 - 06:36 AM

But honestly, your normal thorough washdown should be good:).

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'Should be' is good enough if it is for yourself. 'Should be' is not good enough for my retail establishment.

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I'm sorry I offended you. If she cleans after the last time she uses nuts, there will not be a problem. Flour, sugar, butter, eggs, leavening, and cow-dairy products do not contain peanut or other nut products.

I have never found there to be a problem with Callebaut -- but of course since it is her business she should read the labels. I was giving her a starting point to investigate.

#7 EllenC

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Posted 08 June 2007 - 07:03 AM

I think the best place to start is with the potential client. I have several friends with peanut allergies. None of them are suseptable to reactions in an enviroment like the one describe for your shop. Most of them can eat foods that say they are manufactured in facilities that also handle peanuts. If they are comfortable with your precautions, you can always have them sign a waiver.

#8 JeanneCake

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Posted 08 June 2007 - 05:57 PM

For this situation, I've used the rice krispie cake from Colette's birthday book. I've made race cars, mostly, and a few castles. They're different from a typical layered cake, and sometimes that's ok; sometimes not. It depends on the child, whether they are always having something "different" and they want what everyone else has on their birthday.

#9 onetoughcookie

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Posted 08 June 2007 - 07:51 PM

In the past, I've run the other way from clients who have peanut allergies, much
like K8! But, in reading all I have about peanut allergies, Fiona seems to echo whaI've found out.
Stay away from the obvious, and a good cleaning (I'm a maniac about that on an everyday
basis) will suffice.

I will actually have a phone conversation this weekend with the client (we've only emailed up to this point). Not only does she need cake for her child's party, but for other parties that her child
will be attending! She even offered to invest in a different set of pans to be used only for
these purposes, but I wouldn't take her up on that offer.

The bottom line is, I like to sleep through the night too much to take a major risk, such as this
might be.

Thanks to all who have taken the time to read and weigh in.
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#10 K8memphis

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Posted 08 June 2007 - 08:12 PM

But honestly, your normal thorough washdown should be good:).

View Post


'Should be' is good enough if it is for yourself. 'Should be' is not good enough for my retail establishment.

View Post



I'm sorry I offended you. If she cleans after the last time she uses nuts, there will not be a problem. Flour, sugar, butter, eggs, leavening, and cow-dairy products do not contain peanut or other nut products.

I have never found there to be a problem with Callebaut -- but of course since it is her business she should read the labels. I was giving her a starting point to investigate.

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Oh no no no, I'm not offended at all. No worries. I didn't mean to come off that way at all. I just can't/don't cater to life threateneing allergies for people--that's just me--that's what I meant. I agree too. It should be good enough for an individual but it's too big a liability for moi or for any shop I think. I don't want the pressure y'know?

I mean sometimes you sit around and wonder how a cake or cookie was received by the people at the party. In this case I'd be sitting around praying to God nobody got sick. Yeah, no not for me.

See, she wants to give you a set of pans. I can't operate that way. Other people with their particular issues will follow. Remember that poor girl who died from a kiss from her boyfriend from a peanut allergy?

Not trying to be a downer, it's just hard enough to be in business as it is. I mean sugar free or egg free is kinda different or vegan, nobody's gonna die if something got cross contaminated. Peanuts and celiacs and folks with the bad allergies, the possible consequences are too great.

#11 MomOfLittleFoodies

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Posted 08 June 2007 - 08:25 PM

But honestly, your normal thorough washdown should be good:).

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'Should be' is good enough if it is for yourself. 'Should be' is not good enough for my retail establishment.

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Use a clean scrubber and soap to clean your equipment and it should be fine. My mother-in-law uses peanuts and nuts a lot when she bakes, and she uses the same equipment after thorough cleaning for my peanut and tree nut allergic son. It's never been a problem.

Check over at peanutallergy.com, on the discussion boards... they have product recommendations out the wazoo. People with food allergies are a very underserved segment of the market, and we're generally thrilled with an establishment goes out of their way to try to help us rather than telling us no just to avoid the hassle.
Cheryl

#12 prasantrin

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Posted 08 June 2007 - 11:57 PM

I think the most pressing issue for you is a legal one, should you decide to take on this client. Even if you clean well, there's always a risk, so she should have to sign some legal document stating that she waives you of all responsibility, assuming you have followed certain guidelines for making peanut-free items (using clean equipment and ingredients not in contact with peanuts, etc.).

Also, for your working surfaces, I wonder if it might be helpful to invest in equipment specifically for peanut-free cakes--an extra set of pans, spatula, measuring cups and spoons, bowl and beaters for the mixer, etc. Those things would only be used for any peanut-free items. Also, cover your working surface with plastic before starting on any peanut-free items (Pam R does that at her shop for making Kosher foods, so I was thinking if there were any traces of peanuts on your working surface, the plastic wrap would work as a barrier).

#13 Sebastian

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Posted 09 June 2007 - 03:30 AM

If you're using tree nuts currently, or even storing them in the same location as you work in, I don't think you're going to be able to clean sufficiently to guarantee the absence of peanut proteins. If you're sharing equipment to make both nut containing and nut free products, I'll guarantee you're not going to be able to clean them to the point of being completely nut free unless you're able to autoclave *everything* (and i mean everything...).

I've done quite a bit of research on this prior to last years FDA legislation (FALCPA - Food Allergen Labelling and Consumer Protection Act - it deals specifically with this topic), and even prior to being legally required to address it, we came to the conclusion that one simply can't create a 'clean zone' unless the product in question simply isn't even there to begin with. At the end of the day, I made our factories get rid of peanuts entirely, and put a touch of milk into every single product (whether or not it needed it), because it wasn't feasible for us to stop using milk, and because of our prior attempts to clean it out, we know that no matter what we did there was always going to be *some* trace level of milk in everything - i wanted it on all labels to further minimize the chance that someone would unknowingly consume it who would be allergic to milk and die...this was, at least milk was explicitly stated on the label..

Simply covering things up won't be sufficient (aerosolized nut particles can hang in the air for days before settling out)...

#14 onetoughcookie

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Posted 09 June 2007 - 05:21 AM

I'm going to speak with the client, go to Peanut Allergy.com, and look on the government's
website(s) for more info.

Something tells me that the sheer anxiety will never be compensated by any amount of money.

And I went into a custom cake & cookie business because it is a 'happy' business!
YIKES!

:wacko:
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#15 K8memphis

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Posted 09 June 2007 - 05:49 AM

If you're using tree nuts currently, or even storing them in the same location as you work in, I don't think you're going to be able to clean sufficiently to guarantee the absence of peanut proteins.  If you're sharing equipment to make both nut containing and nut free products, I'll guarantee you're not going to be able to clean them to the point of being completely nut free unless you're able to autoclave *everything* (and i mean everything...).

I've done quite a bit of research on this prior to last years FDA legislation (FALCPA - Food Allergen Labelling and Consumer Protection Act - it deals specifically with this topic), and even prior to being legally required to address it, we came to the conclusion that one simply can't create a 'clean zone' unless the product in question simply isn't even there to begin with.  At the end of the day, I made our factories get rid of peanuts entirely, and put a touch of milk into every single product (whether or not it needed it), because it wasn't feasible for us to stop using milk, and because of our prior attempts to clean it out, we know that no matter what we did there was always going to be *some* trace level of milk in everything - i wanted it on all labels to further minimize the chance that someone would  unknowingly consume it who would be allergic to milk and die...this was, at least milk was explicitly stated on the label..

Simply covering things up won't be sufficient (aerosolized nut particles can hang in the air for days before settling out)...

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^^^ Yeah, what he said ^^^
Because for 'at home' is so vastly different than for production. And 'at home' baking and use of peanuts addresses the allergic propensity of one person generally. To do this successfully for the peanut allergic populus is a monumental thing as Sebastian very aptly explained.

Because if something wasn't Kosher the consequence is not possible death. I mean equating Kosher preparation of food to life threatening allergies is beyond apples and oranges, it's life and death. And I agree cookies and cakes are for fun and celebration. The further problem is that unless one has unlimited space and resources, the different allergies each would have to have it's own complete atmospherically controlled kitchen. Once you did for peanut free, the wheat free would want you. You'd have to have a kitchen for each allergy/malady.

Who wouldn't want to be a blessing to all these folks? It's just beyond most of our grasp to comply with all the restrictions and still maintain a viable business.

Edited by K8memphis, 09 June 2007 - 05:57 AM.


#16 K8memphis

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Posted 09 June 2007 - 06:29 AM

Bottom line is that's why God created Grandma's. Don't you think?

#17 onetoughcookie

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Posted 09 June 2007 - 07:39 AM

If you're using tree nuts currently, or even storing them in the same location as you work in, I don't think you're going to be able to clean sufficiently to guarantee the absence of peanut proteins.  If you're sharing equipment to make both nut containing and nut free products, I'll guarantee you're not going to be able to clean them to the point of being completely nut free unless you're able to autoclave *everything* (and i mean everything...).

I've done quite a bit of research on this prior to last years FDA legislation (FALCPA - Food Allergen Labelling and Consumer Protection Act - it deals specifically with this topic), and even prior to being legally required to address it, we came to the conclusion that one simply can't create a 'clean zone' unless the product in question simply isn't even there to begin with.  At the end of the day, I made our factories get rid of peanuts entirely, and put a touch of milk into every single product (whether or not it needed it), because it wasn't feasible for us to stop using milk, and because of our prior attempts to clean it out, we know that no matter what we did there was always going to be *some* trace level of milk in everything - i wanted it on all labels to further minimize the chance that someone would  unknowingly consume it who would be allergic to milk and die...this was, at least milk was explicitly stated on the label..

Simply covering things up won't be sufficient (aerosolized nut particles can hang in the air for days before settling out)...

View Post



^^^ Yeah, what he said ^^^
Because for 'at home' is so vastly different than for production. And 'at home' baking and use of peanuts addresses the allergic propensity of one person generally. To do this successfully for the peanut allergic populus is a monumental thing as Sebastian very aptly explained.

Because if something wasn't Kosher the consequence is not possible death. I mean equating Kosher preparation of food to life threatening allergies is beyond apples and oranges, it's life and death. And I agree cookies and cakes are for fun and celebration. The further problem is that unless one has unlimited space and resources, the different allergies each would have to have it's own complete atmospherically controlled kitchen. Once you did for peanut free, the wheat free would want you. You'd have to have a kitchen for each allergy/malady.

Who wouldn't want to be a blessing to all these folks? It's just beyond most of our grasp to comply with all the restrictions and still maintain a viable business.

View Post



K8, you have written what has been swirling around in my head, and in my gut.
Something tells me I'm going to gracefully bow out of this project, and then go have
a PBJ sandwich!
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#18 MomOfLittleFoodies

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Posted 09 June 2007 - 11:47 AM

Bottom line is that's why God created Grandma's. Don't you think?

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Not everyone has a grandma who can bake and decorate a cake to the level that a bakery can. I did, but my kids don't. I'd be ashamed to show all you serious pastry people the cakes I've made my kids. I really need to look into Wilton classes or something.

My 9 year old often says that the biggest bummer about the peanut/tree nut allergies is that he can't get anything from bakeries.

There are a few bakeries out there that will cater to special requests, but as far as I know, none on the West Coast. On the food allergy communities I frequent online, there is quite a buzz going around about Babycakes in NYC.

Most of the people who are really anal about the possibility of cross contamination from aerosolized peanuts are not the sorts that order from bakeries or eat in restaurants.
Cheryl

#19 onetoughcookie

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Posted 09 June 2007 - 12:21 PM

Bottom line is that's why God created Grandma's. Don't you think?

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Not everyone has a grandma who can bake and decorate a cake to the level that a bakery can. I did, but my kids don't. I'd be ashamed to show all you serious pastry people the cakes I've made my kids. I really need to look into Wilton classes or something.

My 9 year old often says that the biggest bummer about the peanut/tree nut allergies is that he can't get anything from bakeries.

There are a few bakeries out there that will cater to special requests, but as far as I know, none on the West Coast. On the food allergy communities I frequent online, there is quite a buzz going around about Babycakes in NYC.

Most of the people who are really anal about the possibility of cross contamination from aerosolized peanuts are not the sorts that order from bakeries or eat in restaurants.

View Post


Babycakes is great, I agree with your online allergy pals. But, they don't do what I do...hand
decorated cookies on cakes. And, when a child goes to a party and sees how customized that
cake is, they go wild. The parents do, too. That's why it would be great if I could pull this off,
but I'm a bit fearful.

I don't think I have to worry about aerosolized peanuts, though. Until now, I didn't even know what that was, but I'm glad I got to use it in a sentence.
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#20 Sebastian

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Posted 09 June 2007 - 12:28 PM

I don't think I have to worry about aerosolized peanuts, though.  Until now, I didn't even know what that was, but I'm glad I got to use it in a sentence.

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8-)

#21 MomOfLittleFoodies

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Posted 09 June 2007 - 12:54 PM

Babycakes is great, I agree with your online allergy pals.  But, they don't do what I do...hand
decorated cookies on cakes.  And, when a child goes to a party and sees how customized that
cake is, they go wild.  The parents do, too. That's why it would be great if I could pull this off,
but I'm a bit fearful.

I don't think I have to worry about aerosolized peanuts, though.  Until now, I didn't even know what that was, but I'm glad I got to use it in a sentence.

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Why don't you ask the clients what they expect you to do? Ask them if cleaning your equipment well, and using peanut free ingredients is enough for them. Keep it reasonable. Most of us (people dealing with food allergies) don't expect restaurants and bakeries to have whole separate facilities because we know that's not reasonable. Most of the people who aren't comfortable with those conditions generally avoid restaurants where their allergens are on the menu. Some people get really neurotic about it, but that's a whole 'nother story.
Cheryl

#22 K8memphis

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Posted 09 June 2007 - 03:49 PM


Babycakes is great, I agree with your online allergy pals.  But, they don't do what I do...hand
decorated cookies on cakes.  And, when a child goes to a party and sees how customized that
cake is, they go wild.  The parents do, too. That's why it would be great if I could pull this off,
but I'm a bit fearful.

I don't think I have to worry about aerosolized peanuts, though.  Until now, I didn't even know what that was, but I'm glad I got to use it in a sentence.

View Post


Why don't you ask the clients what they expect you to do? Ask them if cleaning your equipment well, and using peanut free ingredients is enough for them. Keep it reasonable. Most of us (people dealing with food allergies) don't expect restaurants and bakeries to have whole separate facilities because we know that's not reasonable. Most of the people who aren't comfortable with those conditions generally avoid restaurants where their allergens are on the menu. Some people get really neurotic about it, but that's a whole 'nother story.

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What do you mean? How beneficial would it be to a person with an allergy to be mostly peanut free? Besides that's a ginormous responsibility.

From http://www.kidshealth.org
http://www.kidshealt...lergy_diet.html

The problem with peanuts, unlike tree nuts, is that they're used in many, many foods, posing a threat to unwitting consumers. The Food and Drug Administration requires food manufacturers to list every ingredient in a product, with several exceptions - flavors, colors, or spices, and those in insignificant amounts. In addition, ingredient lists still don't cover possible cross contamination when the same equipment that's used to process peanuts for another product is also used to make foods that don't have peanuts as ingredients.

That's why the responsibility falls on parents to make sure their child doesn't eat and isn't exposed to foods with nuts or peanuts.

When reading labels, avoid these ingredients:

food additive 322 (also often listed as lecithins)
arachis (an alternative term for peanut)
hydrolyzed vegetable protein (which may be found in some cereals)
arachis oil (peanut oil)
emulsified or satay (which could mean that the food was thickened with peanuts)
natural and artificial flavoring (which could contain tree nuts and are used in many foods, including barbecue sauce, cereals, crackers, and ice cream)


It's the responsibility of the parent to ensure their child eats safely. A bakery could not do this. I don't understand it being neurotic or anal to preserve a child's life. Babycakes is very cool but they are equally careful to not ensure a 100% nut free product either.

Another idea for a nine year old is to decorate his cake himself. There are so many many things out there they can use now.

I had my boy on a special diet once upon a time. I told him that he was lucky to know which foods to avoid to stay healthy. The bummer is to not know and keep getting sick. It's a blessing to be able to simply avoid a list of foods & products and keep breathing. I would not let him feel sorry for himself.

Me as a business? I would add a peanut butter cookie so there's no ify confusion as to whether or not. The stakes are too high.

#23 MomOfLittleFoodies

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Posted 09 June 2007 - 10:21 PM

K8Memphis, I've been dealing with food allergies (not just peanuts either) for almost 10 years now, peanut allergy specifically for almost 7. I understand better than most what an enormous responsibility it is. I didn't need the refresher. I'd say that I'm pretty careful about my kids allergies. I scout out restaurants and products before the food ever touches their mouth.

Our extended families don't keep their kitchens completely allergen free, and yes, they do cook for my children. Soap and water removes the residual oils and proteins from their pots, pans, bowls etc... they know the drill on cross contamination and are extremely careful. I figure that if a restaurant can do the same thing, that it's safe enough for us.

I take my kids to carefully selected restaurants that can accomodate my kids needs for using a clean pan and utensils to cook their food, and guess what? They've never had an allergic reaction at a restaurant. Bakeries are still a no go for us but my 9 year old dreams of some day being able to eat a cookie from a bakery. I bake for him all the time but it just doesn't have the novelty of going to a bakery.

I really hate the "cover your ass" allergen labeling... like a box of granola bars that said "may contain fish or shellfish". Did you know that labelling for cross contamination is completely voluntary? It's not required by the FDA at all. Typically if I find a product that doesn't outright contain stuff my kids are allergic to, I call or e-mail the company that makes it and ask about cross contamination issues, whether they clean the lines between batches, etc. I'm comfortable with my kids allergens being in the same room as the food that's being prepared and long as things are kept clean. That's my comfort zone, and so far, my kids have been okay.

I appreciate your concern and how you don't want to be responsible for a child having an allergic reaction, but to go out of your way to add allergens to your products just to avoiding dealing with the issue bothers me a bit... I can understand why you're doing it from a business standpoint, but it still bothers me.
Cheryl

#24 FistFullaRoux

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Posted 09 June 2007 - 10:52 PM

It's unglamorous, more expensive, and inconvenient for the baker, and potentially deadly for the client. No release form is going to prevent a lawsuit if someone dies from a product tainted with an allergen, whether it be accidental or not.

While I am sensitive to those who have allergies, and I think I understand the struggles and ramifications of having such a condition, it is very difficult for a business owner to expose themselves to that kind of liability for a special order every once in a while. And while the allergic population is no doubt underserved, there is a reason for it. As much as most in the food business would love to make everyone happy, it's just not possible.

The biggest issue is the liability. It's not like a Kosher kitchen, which has strict dietary rules and clearly documented ingredients. It's a minefield of potential pitfalls that may kill someone.

Imagine you just discovered that the person driving your child to school only started driving 3 days ago. If someone doesn't know how to drive, or have the experience and skill to do so safely, would you put your kids in that vehicle, hoping the driver might figure things out before something tragic happens?
Screw it. It's a Butterball.

#25 onetoughcookie

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Posted 10 June 2007 - 06:24 AM

The moral and legal issues that I grapple with are being echoed here. This is just too risky for me to do, I'm afraid.

Thanks, Egulleters, for all your help.
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#26 MomOfLittleFoodies

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Posted 10 June 2007 - 10:46 AM

The moral and legal issues that I grapple with are being echoed here.    This is just too risky for me to do, I'm afraid.

Thanks, Egulleters, for all your help.

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I can understand that, seeing how over litigious (sp?) people can be these days.
Cheryl

#27 onetoughcookie

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Posted 10 June 2007 - 01:07 PM

The moral and legal issues that I grapple with are being echoed here.    This is just too risky for me to do, I'm afraid.

Thanks, Egulleters, for all your help.

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I can understand that, seeing how over litigious (sp?) people can be these days.

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Precisely.
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