Parents of children with peanut allergies got some unwelcome news recently: Kellogg's is now adding peanut flour to eight of their sandwich cracker products—all of which had formerly been peanut-free. This set off alarm bells for some in the allergy community, who say the addition is potentially dangerous, especially to kids with peanut allergies.
Peanut flour is now added to eight Keebler and Austin brand sandwich crackers, including Keebler Cheese & Cheddar Sandwich Crackers and Austin Pepper Jack Cracker Sandwiches. You can see the complete list here.
SnackSafely.com, a website that provides resources about allergen-safe products, drafted a Change.org petition to the chairman and CEO of Kellogg's, asking him to reconsider the addition of peanut flour. The petition states "...your decision will put at risk thousands of peanut-allergic consumers who already purchase these brands. Furthermore, shoppers that have no reason to believe that a cheese cracker might contain peanuts, endangering themselves or the children in their care." They also accuse Kellogg's of adding peanut flour to sidestep new food safety regulations meant to guard against allergen cross-contact. The petition currently has more than 28,000 signatures.
Kellogg's, who insists that food safety is a top priority, says the accusations that they're trying to avoid complying with regulations are untrue—and that the peanut flour is being added because the products will be made on a line that handles food with peanut ingredients. They assure consumers that the crackers are properly labeled and that the product labels state "contains peanuts." In response to customer concerns, they're working on ways to make more sandwich crackers without peanut ingredients, starting with their Austin Grilled Cheese Sandwich Crackers which be available in stores around the country starting in September. Kellogg's insists that rumors they are adding peanut flour to other product lines are also false. Though SnackSafely.com recently reported that Kellogg's was now adding peanut flour to the Apple Cobbler flavor of Nutri-Grain Grain Bars, Kellogg's says that variety has always contained peanut flour and that the product has since been discontinued.
But all of this is little consolation for some. "The news that Kellogg's is adding peanut flour to previously non-peanut products adds another level of fear for a group of parents who are already terrified to let their children pick their own food," says Ohio-mom Erin McIntyre, whose son has a peanut allergy. "We tell our son to read all packaging all the time, but I fear he might not re-read the ingredients if it's a food he's had safely in the past." Peanuts are among the most common food allergen, and rates of peanut allergies tripled between 1997-2008 among U.S. kids. For people with allergies, even trace amounts of peanut can cause a severe reaction called anaphylaxis that can be life threatening.
What do YOU think of Kellogg's decision to add peanut flour to some of their products?
Sally Kuzemchak, MS, RD, is a registered dietitian, educator, and mom of two who blogs at Real Mom Nutrition. You can follow her on Facebook Twitter Pinterest, and Instagram. She collaborated with Cooking Light on Dinnertime Survival Guide, a cookbook for busy families. In her spare time, she loads and unloads the dishwasher. Then loads it again.