Chocolate Problems And Peanut Allergies

We don’t consider M&Ms (even plain ones) safe for The Child’s peanut allergy.

“But there are no peanuts in plain M&M’s! They are plain!”

I submit to you yesterday’s recall headline from the FDA:

Mars Chocolate North America Issues Allergy Alert Voluntary Recall On Undeclared Peanut Butter In M&M’s® Brand Milk Chocolate Theater Box

That’s right. Someone called Mars to tell them they found peanut butter in their plain box of M&Ms, and Mars issued a recall.

As a kid, I remember getting excited about finding peanut M&Ms in my plain bag every now and then. It was a little prize. A free peanut M&M! Now I think about that occasional bonus peanut very differently.

“I checked this bag. There are no peanuts or peanut butter in it. Try one!”

Oh, thank you for remembering that The Child has a peanut allergy! Thank you for wanting to keep him safe. The extra step is so kind. And so appreciated. But it’s not enough for us.

In our home, we contact every food manufacturer to ask if the food we are interested in shares the line with peanuts or peanut butter. Generally, but not always, we avoid unless the entire facility is peanut-free. There are thousands of homes like ours. (It is worth noting that not every food allergy family takes the same precautions we do. Some are more or less risk-averse. That’s another post entirely.) We find chocolate a particularly problematic. Because we want to eat all of it, all the time.

This recall is good education–even in the food allergy community–about cross-contamination. And why it’s exhausting. And why non-food-allergy families sometimes think we are giant control freaks. Or rude. Or stand-offish. It’s why we just won’t eat those M&Ms at your baby shower. And certainly why that cake is strictly off-limits to us. Even though it looks so pretty, and we are so happy to celebrate with you, and no thank you, but thank you very much.

Oh, and yes we usually eat the Sixlets in your house, but those special Halloween variety packs aren’t safe for us. My brain is filled with brands and seasons and rules and exceptions.

If you’re interested in learning more, here are good posts from a couple popular allergy bloggers:

Food Allergy Bitch, Food Allergy Cross Contamination: In The Trenches.

The Nut-Free Mom, Peanut Allergy Plea: Please Don’t Bake For My Allergic Child

While you read those, I’ll be eating these Sunday pancakes with special-order chocolate chips.

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4 Responses to Chocolate Problems And Peanut Allergies

  1. I’m wondering why there seem to be so many more people with severe allergies now than there used to be. I mean, I’d never heard of a nut allergy 25 years ago, but now they’re popping up all over. Or maybe we’re just more aware?

    Anyway, always good to see what’s up with you, dear. Thanks for posting! ❤

    • alanajoyski says:

      Hmmm. Nobody knows. But it isn’t “awareness,” that seems to be medical consensus. It’s for real on the rise. Lots of lay people want to believe One Thing is the answer. But that’s like saying if we all stop eating refined sugar, no one will develop cancer. I’m hoping we move toward a “why” and a cure.

      >

  2. Am says:

    Alana, I just want to say that reading about your experiences with trying to keep your son safe (read: alive) have been really educational and eye-opening for me, and I think of you and other potential kids now much more carefully than before. So thanks for that. I I’m sorry you guys got dealt this card. It must feel all-consuming at times.

    • alanajoyski says:

      Oh, thank you. Most days it’s business as usual. And we are fortunate to have only one allergen. And that one is the “popular” one. My mind gets truly overwhelmed when I think about people who are allergic to multiple things. Or, like, to milk. Or wheat. Just think about Goldfish crackers alone, raining down on all children everywhere. Deadly Goldfish? Ugh. But I’m so encouraged to know our journey has raised your awareness. That’s so often how I feel about what you teach me. Xo

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