Children with food allergies feel excluded from so many special events. Bakeries commonly say they simply cannot accommodate a child with a nut allergy. After years of being very careful by reading labels to check for food allergies, my six-year-old daughter knows to check for labels. But when she got an EasyBake Oven as a gift, she thought there would be SOME of the cute baking mixes she could eat. We can not find ANY that do not have the warning: "contains traces of" nuts and other common allergens. In fact, Hasbro lists that warning on the oven itself. Does Hasbro care so little that they won't even try to have some? Why does Red Velvet cake have to have traces of nuts? Can't Hasbro follow "responsible practices" for segregating ingredients like other companies? Help me start a trend. Get companies to do more than just protect themselves from liability and instead be responsible. Hasbro, use responsible practices to segregate ingredients and make some Easy Bake Oven mixes for children with food allergies!
The CDC estimates that approximately 4-6% of children have life-threatening food allergies (http://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/foodallergies/). However, there are not enough people affected by allergies to make typical market forces respond to the needs of children or people with food allergies. Children with food allergies often feel excluded from many special occasions like birthday parties or even small celebrations in school because few companies use responsible practices to segregate common allergens. Most companies choose to use disclaimers that are vague and hard for parents and children to understand, like "may contain traces of" or "made in a facility that processes."
Even trace amounts of allergens can cause children like my daughter, Mira, to go into anaphylaxis. The CDC defines anaphylaxis as "a sudden, severe allergic reaction that involves various areas of the body simultaneously or causes difficulty breathing and swelling of the throat and tongue [that] can result in death." Any parent who has seen any part of anaphylaxis does not want to take chances with such vague labels.
The FDA is working on new regulations to make the labeling of allergens in foods more consistent and clear http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/food-allergies/AA00057). As of the time this petition was started, companies are required to list ingredients, but not incidental contact. Many companies choose to list possible incidental contact with allergens, but they tend to be very inclusive which leaves many children sad and frustrated because they cannot enjoy many of the foods their friends are enjoying. It leaves many parents frustrated as well, because the labels are hard to read and interpret. We get pretty versed in dealing with our children's disappointment.
I want to applaud Hasbro for following the voluntary guidelines, but help them be aware of how their very general disclaimers impact many young children who feel excluded. I was quite surprised to find that Hasbro puts a blanket disclaimer on ALL of its mixes for the Easy Bake Oven.
After years of being very careful by reading labels to check for food allergies, my six-year-old daughter knows to check for labels. But when she got an EasyBake Oven as a gift, she thought there would be SOME of the cute baking mixes she could eat. We can not find ANY that do not have the warning: "contains traces of" nuts and other common allergens. In fact, Hasbro lists that warning on the oven itself. My daughter was heartbroken and I didn't know how to help her through her anger and disappointment. I suggested that she write Hasbro a letter. Her initial draft said, "I am so so so so [for half a page] mad at your company." Her second draft was more polite and states simply:
"Please could you make some mixes for children with allergies. I am allergic to nuts." -Mira, age: 6
Hasbro, I think my six-year-old daughter, Mira, said it best. Please make some Easy Bake Oven mixes for children with food allergies! You are a company that prides itself on social responsibility and you showed that you will create opportunities for gender neutrality with the Easy Bake Oven. Show that you make products for all children, including children with food allergies, too!