Up until recently I trusted the labeling of the food brand owned by General Mills, “Annie’s Homegrown” but as of today I will no longer be purchasing their products, unless they change their labeling standards or provide more allergen information to consumers. It is a shame since they’re often organic and since they state in their FAQs that they inquire on allergens from the farm where they source their ingredients to product, but for me it is not worth the peanut contamination risk I learned is at their facility.
I called today on a box of their macaroni and cheese to inquire on the “may contain” statement after reading their FAQs on their website on how they handle allergens and labeling. To put it briefly, I was told if Annie’s makes a product containing peanuts (or a top 8 allergen) on equipment and clean it well to the FDA standards afterwards, they will test the lines (I’m uncertain how they do this, I am assuming it’s some type of a equipment food line swab test or product test) and if it tests negative they will label it as being “peanut-free” and/or leave off a “may contain: peanut” type statement, since they feel they are positive there’s no risk of cross contamination. In my opinion there is still risk, and there’s no reason for their company to inquire from farm to product if they aren’t releasing the information to the consumer in the end on if it’s made in a shared facility with their deadly allergen or on shared -but cleaned- equipment.
Everyone with food allergies has different comfort levels, and I am uncomfortable with this labeling and feel it is misleading. I have reacted to products made on shared equipment as peanuts before and don’t want to trust a cleaning process. I do not eat products labeled “made in a shared facility with peanuts” and so I absolutely prefer to not eat anything made on actual shared equipment with peanut ingredients even more.
This is one reason why I try to call most brands periodically to inquire on their labeling, since there is no standardized requirement in the United States for “may contain” or “peanut-free” type labeling which I discussed in my previous blog post on false security. I believe when I’ve called Annie’s Homegrown previously on this I’ve misunderstood their labeling and trusted it. I wanted to make sure to post this update in case I’ve recommended their brand before, so people with allergies are eating Annie’s Homegrown are fully aware and can inquire further to learn more.
Are there any other products you’ve learned label for ‘peanut-free” or leave off “may contain” statements after cleaning equipment? Leave a comment below if so!
For anyone wondering, this was my follow-up email to them. If you would prefer they label and disclose to consumers if your allergen was ever on shared equipment or in the same facility, I urge you to write them or call them as well:
Hello! I have a severe peanut allergy and wanted to share my feedback on your labeling. I have always liked Annie’s products and purchased them not only because you label for “may contain” but since it’s quality and organic. I was disappointed when I called to inquire on a box of your macaroni and cheese to see if it was made on shared equipment as peanuts at any point or in a shared facility with peanut ingredients, and learned that you do not give out this information. I have always trusted your “may contain” statements but now understand I should not have been. I felt your FAQ addressing allergens a little misleading, I wanted to recommend that you label for “may contain” even if you wash and test the shared equipment, so people know there is still a slight risk. I personally do not feel comfortable, and have had reactions to this type of labeling before, so I sadly will have to stop buying your products. I would love if there’s more transparency from your end to the consumer on if there are peanuts/allergens in the facility with a product, and if it was at any point on shared equipment with their deadly allergen. Please let me know your thoughts.
Safe & happy eating–