Rapid Food Tests & Swab Tests
This blog post may cover something people already understand, but last night I had an ‘Ah-hah’ moment while reading a free2be cookie box! This epiphany led to some new security about safe eating that I wanted to share.
I read the cookie box as I usually do, out of habit, even though it says on it “peanut-free”, and is clearly free of the top allergens, but I like that extra reassurance of reading it each time and understand what “peanut-free” means to them. In this case, it means a peanut-free facility. I started wondering HOW these companies ensure the food items are 100% allergen-free. It gives me anxiety thinking about how I would be able to ensure this food safety to another person, so I wanted to understand where this sense of security came from.
I remembered that I had emailed with Enjoy Life Foods not too long ago, another allergen-free company, to ask this very question: what steps do they take to 100% ensure their customers safety? I went back in my emails to see if they emailed me back, and sure enough, they had!
I’m not sure about Free2Be, but I would imagine they do what Enjoy Life does, and what the local safe bakery in my town Annie May’s Sweet Cafe does, and not allow their employees to bring outside-food in that contains allergens. It sounds extreme at first, but makes total sense to prevent any chance of contamination coming in, especially when ensuring these “free-from” claims and knowing the severe consequences.
Enjoy Life then performs rapid tests on the raw products, and the finished products. I’m assuming that prior to purchasing the raw products they reach out to the source to find out about if it has come in contact with any of the allergens they are avoiding, but they didn’t explicitly explain this step in their response.
Then I researched if rapid tests and swab tests were identical, and I have gathered that they aren’t the exact same. They can vary, and are constantly being changed and improved upon. However, their purpose is the same– they’re all checking if there is any allergen residue. The fact that companies are doing these tests now is a game-changer because, I imagine, it eliminates the chance of a product recall later on. That was my light-bulb moment where I felt like I knew with certainty that the product I was eating was safe and wouldn’t (likely) later be deemed un-safe, since they tested it. I did read an article that discusses HOW these tests work, and how it’s important for companies to choose the correct test, it discusses some scenarios where something may test as being “negative” for peanuts but still contain trace amounts, here’s that 2019 article on Food Safety Tech in case you’re interested.
I am always nervous about eating processed foods because of the chance of a recall, but I do trust these “top 8 free” type companies a lot more than, say, other brands that only let me know what is in the facility. It may sound funny and not accurate, but I do smell my food a lot of the time, because my nose and sense of smell can be a good detector of obvious and large levels of peanuts in an item.
I was excited there may be a way to prevent food recalls from happening with this upfront testing, because recalls are one of those things that make all the hard-work of checking still not be 100% accurate. If companies CORRECTLY using these food allergy tests would be able to catch it before it’s problematic or deadly, that’s incredible, and I want to support these companies! One disclaimer I want to add, is the brand So Delicious Dairy Free is a favorite of mine, they do this testing, but I still personally only trust certain products of theirs that are NOT in a shared facility or on shared equipment as peanuts. This is a personal choice I make because I have read horror stories about customers reacting to their products, even with them taking all the precautions and testing. So, even though the company is testing products that are made on shared equipment as peanuts, but I still avoid those because I feel it’s not a risk worth taking. Anytime peanuts are on shared equipment or in a same facility, I don’t take the chance. Personally, I feel the cons outweigh the pros.
I started looking up what other companies utilize food detection tests and was not finding much readily available information online, so I am going to begin emailing and asking companies I use regularly to see if they use any type of safety testing. If not, I’ll recommend that they do and make my recall prevention case. It can’t hurt to ask or make a suggestion. Like anything, I did see that some brands of detection tests can be more accurate than others, and likely that is always going to be an issue, but I believe the more the product is examined and tested for allergens, and labeled accordingly, the better!
Personal Portable Food Sensors
While internet browsing I found there is a Nima portable peanut sensor and other similar products like it on the market! I did not purchase one, but if it’s affordable enough, I could see it as another measure to help stay safe when eating out, traveling, etc. The problem with these is that you still have to purchase the food to take a sampling from it, but it could still prevent a life-threatening reaction. As much as I want to get to the root of why peanut allergies, and food allergies in general are soaring, and stop whatever the cause is and find a cure, these types of products are great to see in the meantime!
Just wanted to share a little information on rapid food tests and food swab testing! Until next time!