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Baked goods: nut substitutes for allergy sufferers


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#31 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?

#32 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)...

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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.

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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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#33 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

#34 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.

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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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#35 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-)

#36 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

#37 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.

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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.

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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.

#38 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

#39 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.

#40 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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#41 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

#42 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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