Category Archives: Reading Labels
Kemnitz Family Kitchen Labels & Flags
Kemnitz Family Kitchen has these great labels, stickers, and flags for foods that are gluten free and allergen free. They also have special labels that say “NO” in red if they are not safe. We went to my mom’s for a cookout yesterday, and my cousin has decided to try being gluten free to see if it makes her feel any better. We were able to put flags in the foods that were safe for her. My mom made the homemade salsa, and taco dip. Both were safe, so I was able to put a flag in them.
My cousin brought some Udi’s Gluten Free hamburger buns, which are not only gluten free, but nut free also! Had to put some cute flags and stickers on those too!
My cousin brought a cake she made gluten free, and it was REALLY good. However, my grandmother brought packaged donuts that were not safe for my cousin or my daughter’s peanut allergy, so I put the STOP sticker on them. It was great, because they were both able to see right off that they were not safe for either of them.
I am so excited about these flags and labels. Especially at larger family functions where different people have different food restrictions, and people bring home made foods. People can immediately see which items are safe and which are not.
My cousin said these were a great idea, especially if you are at a restaurant and they bring around desserts to view. They could have the little GF flag in them to show they are gluten free and safe. Another neat idea is if you order lunch from a restaurant and they have gluten free options. They could label your meal with a Gluten Free sticker. Kemnitz Family Kitchen has several little stickers and flags for every occasion and food restriction. These would be great for cookouts, family parties, and school treats.
You say it’s your birthday? Happy Gluten Free Birthday! Imagine getting a cupcake from a co-worker that is gluten free, with a little birthday sticker on it.
Is the food vegan? Is it an Easter, Christmas, Halloween, or Fourth of July? There are adorable labels to label your foods to bring to get togethers. There are even labels to make what items your food does NOT have! This is especially important for home made foods. The possibilities are endless!
Disclaimer: I was sent two packages of flags and labels in exchange for my honest opinion of the products. I was not compensated in any way, and all opinions are my own.
Today was Orthodox Easter and my parents came to pick up my girls for an Easter Egg hunt at their church. We then met for dinner, and on the way home in the car, Bean was telling me how her sister and her each got chocolate Easter Bunnies. She said that Bubbles’ chocolate bunny was not safe, but that the white chocolate bunny she got was safe! Woohoo! When they got home we went through their bags and found that the white chocolate bunny had peanut butter in it. Most of the other goodies also had peanuts or were unsafe for her too. The thing is the white chocolate bunny had peanut butter as an ingredient, so it did NOT state on the allergen warning that it contained peanut butter. My daughter looked at the warning, but not the ingredients themself.
One other thing, if peanuts or peanut butter is in the ingredients list, it does not have to be included in the warning portion. Always, always read the full ingredients list AND the warning label.
When I told her she could not have the bunny after all she got really upset and said “I can’t have anything!!” Unfortunately, so many things with chocolate are unsafe for her. By then I pulled out her stash of candy and showed her all the candy that she CAN have. She was not having it and proclaimed that “none of it is chocolate though”. She looked so sad. I told her that we can get her special chocolate that is peanut free. She slowly replied, “I know, but it’s not the same. I can’t have a lot of things and I would really like to try them.” All I could say was, “I’m sorry. I am sorry that you have a peanut allergy. If I could make it go away, I would.” Then she asked me a question she never asked before, “Do you think I will outgrow my peanut allergy, like I did my egg allergy?” Based on what our allergist said, that since her allergy is so severe, she will probably never outgrow her peanut allergy. I told her, “Baby, I’m sorry, but you probably will not ever outgrow it.” The look on her face broke my heart. I hugged her and smoothed her hair and started to cry. I started feeling sorry for her, and said, “I’m sorry you cannot try everything, and I am sorry you couldn’t have that candy. I am sorry you have to bring your own treat to birthday parties, and I am sorry this will be something you will have to deal with the rest of her life. You know what though? Having a peanut allergy makes you a very special little girl”. She got up and ran and got her book, “The Girl Who Cannot Have Peanut Butter” and read it to me. She changed the name to her own, instead of Sam (the main character). Then she looked me square in the eyes and said, “It’s OK Mom! Everyone has something they cannot have, besides I probably wouldn’t like the taste of peanuts anyway and I would just spit them out.” She is such an amazing little girl, and it took her to remind me to not feel sorry for her or her allergy. It’s OK, she really can have so many other things, AND like the book says, “Everyone in class has something special or different that no one else has.”
Also, always, ALWAYS, read all the ingredients, not just the warning labels. If the allergen is listed in the actual ingredients, it does not have to be listed in the allergen warnings!
Where can gluten hide?
Recently, I posted about the strangest places that we have found gluten since living gluten free, and realized that there are a lot of places that people may not think about to check. Here is a quick list of where to find it and how to avoid cross contamination at home.
First, is to obviously remove all your basic food products that contain gluten. This will typically be your cereals, oatmeals, pastas, bread and bread based products. But, also make sure that any opened spread you have, peanut butter, jelly, jams, sauces or butter, that have been touched by a knife that has been put to bread get tossed. There is no telling whether or not these spreads are safe since bread particles could have been transferred over. This goes for cream cheese as well. When in doubt, throw it out! Your health is much more important that trying to salvage something.
Check your appliances! Toasters and toaster ovens will never be clean enough to use safely again. REplace them for peace of mind. Also, check your pots and pans. If there are scratches on your pots or pans that have previously contained gluten items, get rid of those too. There is no way to be sure that you have cleaned every tiny crevice well enough that gluten is not hiding in there.
Cleaning supplies! This can be tricky, because many times, companies do not list their ingredients completely on the labels. You will need to check your cleaning chemicals, detergents, dish soap, dishwasher soap and anything else you use. If the product does not specify, call the company and find out. Or, you can go with more specialized gluten free or all natural companies instead of conventional ones. Just remember, routinely check your products because companies can change their formulas at any time.
Now it is time to check those bathroom products! Make up, sunscreens, lotions, perfumes, deodorants, body sprays, soaps, shampoos, conditioners, self tanners, tanning lotions, hair dyes, even bug sprays. Check all of these things, and be diligent in keeping up with any manufacturing changes. They happen a lot in this area.
And probably one of the worst places gluten can hide, in is your medications and supplements. Check all your OTC medications, everything from pain medicine, to allergy medicine, to cough syrup. Usually medications that are safe will say gluten free on the label. Check supplements too, especially kid vitamins. If you are on prescription medications, be sure to ask your doctor about the gluten content of your medications. Often, if there is, your doctor can set you up on a different course of treatment to avoid it. Just be careful about asking pharmacists, in my experience they often are not as well versed in medication contents and gluten. Obviously, this does not mean that there aren’t some that do know, but in my experiences, I have often found that I am more well versed in the topic than they tend to be.
One more area…pet foods! Depending on your level of sensitivity, it may be best for you to feed your pet gluten free as well. I have heard of people having reactions from pets who eat gluten. Often times it winds up being s skin reaction once the pet has licked the affected person. This is not something that effects us directly. But this is something that you will want to think about depending on the severity of your symptoms.
Hope this helps, please let me know if there are any places that I may have missed!
Awareness in the Food Service Industry
It was another one of those nights tonight…
You know, the whole, hey let’s try and go out and grab something for dinner. For those of you who can do this effortlessly, and without any kind of thought, I envy you…dearly. For us, it is a lovely game of first, finding somewhere safe, and then second, trying to find somewhere that my uber picky Bear will eat from.
After a long debate and thought process, we finally settled on somewhere. As usual, once we were there and getting ready to order, I went through our typical “we can NOT have anything with gluten, so I need to know what your ingredients are” speech. And this was met with the typical “Oh is this for an allergy” question. I begrudgingly say yes, not wanting to get into how it is NOT an allergy (that is another post for another day). But then, to my dismay, our server said they would have to go and ask someone else, and they would get back to us about what was safe. It took quite awhile, and finally someone else came out to talk to us, with a large book that they told me contained all the items they had and what was in each item. And I am NOT kidding when I say that this binder had to be 3 or 4 inches thick. At this point, we explained that we did not feel safe enough to continue our experience, thanked the establishment, left a small tip for our server ( I used to waitress, so I feel that it is only right to leave a little something for taking up some time at a table) and wound up back home eating leftovers.
But here is my point, I just feel like if you work in an establishment where food is served, you should be knowledgeable enough to explain to patrons what is or is not in your products. Not just for those with gluten issues or food allergies, but for anyone who asks. People are becoming more and more aware of what they put in their bodies, and typically most like to know what they are eating. I just find it amazing that in most cases the servers or counter staff typically have no clue what they serve. Even worse, as in our case, the management did not even know what was in the products they were serving. Um…what? While I understand that this may be a paycheck for you, this could be a life threatening mistake for someone else. I am not at all trying to downplay the need for us with food issues to do our homework…but it would be nice for places to start educating their staff on the make up of the their products. Also, maybe a bit of education on the plethora of food issues that people can have. It would be nice to walk into a restaurant and explain my situation and have it met with something more than a weird look. A bit of extra effort on the part of restaurants could do wonders for their customer service, and open up their businesses to a whole new market of people who may have previously been unaware that eating there was a safe place.
I was talking to a friend earlier today and we were discussing some nutrition information and swapping recipes. This is something we like to do regularly. Some background…She has diabetes, and is very careful about what she eats, when, and what combinations of foods she eats at a time. So far she has been lucky enough to manage her condition by diet and exercise, although doctors are still keeping a close eye on her. Today, she said something that really got me thinking. In our conversation, I was teasing her about how meticulous she was with her measurements when it came to food ( all good-natured of course). And her reply was, “Well I am a diabetic, what do you expect?”. I found it interesting that she, and many other people who have diabetes, identify themselves AS the condition, rather than a PERSON with the condition.
I then emailed a friend who has Celiac and asked her how she identifies herself. She also replied that she, and many of the members in her support group, identify themselves as “celiacs”. There is just so much about this labeling that bothers me. There are many other conditions that are life long that people deal with all the time, yet they do not identify themselves AS the condition, they just say they HAVE the condition. So what makes conditions like Celiac and diabetes so different. Why are people relating themselves AS the disease?
I would really love to see people step away from this. Yes, you may have a condition, and yes it may be something that you have to deal with for the rest of your life. But, your disease DOES NOT define YOU! You are the only person that can do that. I think that the more we encourage terminology change (ie… I am a person with Celiac disease, or I am a person with diabetes) the more people with these afflictions will be able to feel more “normal”.
After I did some thinking, I called my friend back this morning and asked her why she identified herself in such a way. She seemed surprised that I brought it up and was genuinely thankful for my observation. She did not even realize the way she was referring to herself and her condition. She agreed that it was much more empowering for her to be a person with diabetes, than a diabetic. So, I encourage all of you to listen to when friends are talking…and if they do identify themselves as a condition they have… ask them why. Many may be like my friend and not even realize that they do it.
I would love to hear feedback on this issue. Please weigh in on questions and comments. Let me know how you identify yourselves and why. Or let me know if you think I am completely off track. I would love to hear everything!
Gluten Free Candy
Over the past few days I have been working on some research and emailing companies to try and bring you the best list of gluten free candy that I can. This is is not, by any means, complete. What I mean by that is, it does not contain all of the candy out there that is gluten free. If it did, it would probably be as long as a book! I have not included any of the specialty candy brands that only work with gluten free candies, but rather chose to focus on what “normal” candies are safe. This is because, odds are, you and your children will come into contact with these mainstream candies way more often than those of a specialty nature. As always, please make sure to check the labels. While all of this information is current, that does not guarantee that the manufacturers will not change their recipes or manufacturing processes.
Tic Tacs are considered by the company to be gluten free. They said that none of their items contain any gluten containing ingrediants. For more information, you can reach the maker of Tic Tacs, Ferrero at 732-764-9300.
Jelly Belly jelly beans are considered by the company to be gluten free. ALL of their jelly beans, in ALL flavors are safe. However, sometimes Jelly Belly will package their items as a mixed set that may contain malted milk balls, or other candies that are not safe. Always make sure to check the packaging… as long as its JUST jelly beans, you are free and clear. You can contact Jelly Belly at 800-522-3267.
Wrigleys makes gum, mints and other candies. They also make Lifesavers, Creme Savers, Skittles and Starburst. Almost all of their items are considered to be gluten free. The company assured me that the only products that are NOT considered to be gluten free are: Altoids Smalls Peppermints, Altoids Chocolate Dipped Mints, Hubba Bubba Gummie Tape and Lucas and Swinkles Candy Strips. Contact Wrigley at (800) 974-4539.
Necco is another famous brand of candies that replied to me with a list of their gluten free options. They include : Necco Wafers and Chocolate Wafers, the Sweethearts Valentine Conversation Hearts, Mary Janes, and Peanut Butter Mary Janes, Sky Bar, Mint Julep Chews, Banana Split Chews, Candy House Candy Buttons, Haviland Thin Mints, Wintergreen Patty, Nonpareils and Chocolate Stars, and Canada Mint, Wintergreen and Spearmint Lozenges. You can contact Necco at 781-485-4800.
Nestles also makes are variety of candies, both under their name as well as Willy Wonka. The items that they have assured me are currently considered to be gluten free are: Laffy Taffy, Pixie Stix, Bit O Honey, Baby Ruth, Original Flavor Butterfinger (no seasonal flavors, or shapes), Goobers, Nips, O Henry, Nestles Milk Chocolate, Snowcaps, and Raisinets. For more information, you can contact Nestles at 800-225-2270.
Just Born makes the marshmallow peeps that we usually see on Easter, and they also make Mike and Ikes. The company said that any of their marshmallow products that are gluten free will be labelled gluten free. They began this process last October. While some of the products do say modified food starch, the company assured me it was corn, so it was safe. This list of Mike and Ike candies that are safe are the following flavor varieties: Hot Tamales, Zours, Tropical Typhoon, Jelly Beans, Berry Blast, Italian Ice, Original Fruits, Tangy Twister, Redrageous. You can contact Just Born at 888-645-3453.
Smarties says that most of their line is gluten free with the exception of the Smarties Gummies. While the Smarties Gummies have no gluten containing ingredients, they are processed on machinery that also processes gluten containing ingredients. However, something to be aware of with Smarties, is that the company often sells them to other companies to bag together with other items. In these cases, the other items that the products may be bagged with cannot always be considered safe. Note from the Smarties Company…. “Note: If the UPC number on the packaging begins with “0 11206”, you can be assured that it is manufactured in a facility that is gluten free and safe to eat if you have Celiac Disease.” If you need to contact Smarties, you can do so through their website.
Mars Chocolates sent me the following list of what was safe. Please note that some varieties of M&Ms are NOT safe and you are always going to want to check the packaging! Here is what is safe from Mars: all flavors of 3 musketeers and Snickers Bars, M&Ms EXCEPT for pretzel and SOME mint and coconut, Milky Way Midnight and Milky Way caramel bars, and ALL Dove chocolate products EXCEPT cinnamon graham and cookies and creme flavors. You can contact Mars at 800-627-7852.
Tootsie Roll who also makes Charms Products has ensured me that as of October of last year, ALL of their products are considered to be gluten free, with the only EXCEPTION being Andes Cookies. Great job Tootsie Roll! You can call Tootsie at 773-838-3400.
Hersheys Chocolate lists the following products on their website as gluten free. The list is: all Almond Joy and Mounds, Milk Chocolate Kisses, the caramel and cherry cordial filled chocolate kisses, Hersheys nuggets, Heath Bars, Skor and Skor Toffee bars, all York Peppermint Patties, all Reeses peanut butter cups EXCEPT holiday shapes. Hersheys chocolate bar and Hersheys chocolate bar with almonds are also considered to be gluten free, but ONLY certain sizes. The plain chocolate bar is gluten free in the 1.55 ounce size and the Hersheys with almonds is gluten free in the 1.45 ounce size. I think that this is strange and in our house we avoid those two bars altogether though. You can contact
Hersheys at 800-468-1714.
I hope this helps to put your mind at ease a bit when your kids want candy, or come home with candy from school or from friends houses. I recommend printing out this list, or one of your own if your children have other allergies, and giving it to friends, family, babysitters, or school teachers. Anyone who could possible give your child candy. This safe list allows for a little more freedom and normalcy for your child when they are not with you. If you have any questions, or if there is anything you think I may have missed, please feel free to let me know.
Happy? Gluten free Easter?
If your house is anything like mine the Littles are bouncing off the walls waiting for the bunny. Which leaves me close to pulling my hair out about which candies the bunny can leave them. After a bunch of research and emails to candy companies…the kind of things that happen in my house before every holiday….I have answers!!!
So save yourself the time and headache and consult my handy dandy list of verified safe candies. Please always double check labels!!! Just because it’s on this list, we never know when those silly candy makers may change a formula!
The winners are:
Easter themed dove chocolate products…bunnies, eggs, bars, etc. check your labels…some DO say made on equipment that processes wheat
Jelly belly jelly beans and all specialty packed Easter themed items from jelly belly
Easter color foil wrapped Hershey milk chocolate kisses
Easter themed starburst and strangest jelly beans
Easter packaged m&ms EXCEPT the pretzel variety
Kraft egg mallows and bunny mallows
Easter themed tootsie candy including tootsie pops blow pops and double bubble.
The biggest controversy and debate over an Easter candy is the famous cabury creme eggs that are produced by Hershey. There are those who consider then too be gluten free and can incorporate them into their diets without any ill side effects. The company, however, does not consider them to be gluten free because of the risk of gluten cross contamination during the manufacturing process. For this reason, they remain a treat that we keep out of our home. While they were a childhood favorite of mine…the health of my children isn’t worth the risk to me. (although I would be lying if I said I didn’t sneak the occasional one at the gas station). However this is a very individual choice that will depend on how high the level of gluten sensitivity is in your home. I know many people that can tolerate them just fine. It is a fact that they do not contain any gluten ingredients. As always, no matter what you decide I want to make sure I keep you informed. Hope this helps you to have a wonderful holiday!
ARACHIS HYPOGAEA aka Peanut
The other day at work, I was putting on some lotion and my coworker asked me what I was using. She said she liked how it smelled. I told her it was lotion by Avon, called Almond and Milk. I offered her some, but she explained that she could not use it because her son, Tyler, has a tree nut allergy. She then told me there are lots of things that she cannot use because of Tyler’s allergy, including lotions, body washes, shampoos, and even laundry detergent. Yep you heard right, laundry detergent. Specifically she referred to Seventh Generation laundry detergent. She said that several contain almond oil as in ingredient, and Tyler reacts to it. So, before I blogged about this to all of you, I checked it out for myself. I went to Seventh Generation’s website, and randomly clicked on Natural 4X Laundry Detergent Geranium Blossoms and Vanilla. I really didn’t expect to find any almond oil. However, there it was in the ingredients! Listed in the ingredients it says, “(prunus amygdalus dulcis (sweet almond) oil”. Here is the link to check it out yourself.
It always amazes me where allergies can lurk. I previously posted about where peanuts can be hidden. For those of you who have peanut allergies, there is a great list of common things that may contain. You can see my previous post here. I had no idea that Arachis Hypogaea was the scientific name for peanuts and Arachis Oil is actually peanut oil!
Always be sure to read ingredients, whether it is in food or other products. You never know where hidden dangers may be lurking.