Monday, October 15, 2007

Seriously? Seriously.

I received the following email this morning from our daycare provider. My children do not seem to be victims of the peanut allergy epidemic that has swept the nation in recent years, but this seems like a little much. They disinfected an entire room that didn't even get the peanut- contaminated crackers?? My apologies if your child has one of these 'life threatening allergies,' but seriously, didn't we used to eat peanut butter as soon as we were old enough to chew?

Precautionary Alert
Spring Hill Location:
Center Staff discovered that several sleeves of sealed Ritz crackers had peanut butter particles on the crackers themselves and on the inside of the wrappers when they were opened in the Pre-Toddler classroom on Friday, October 12, 2007. The crackers were removed from the classrooms and taken to the kitchen and them to the corporate office at McLean where it was determined that the substance that smelled like peanut butter, looked like peanut butter and tasted like peanut butter was in fact peanut butter.
The tables were disinfected in the Pre-Toddler classroom with the appropriate approved bleach solution. There are no known peanut allergies in the Pre-Toddler classroom. The Toddler classroom where there is a child with a peanut allergy was disinfected completely with the approved bleach solution to include the floor, carpet, rugs, tables, chairs, containers etc. The parent of the child with the allergy was contacted regarding the issue. The Infant room children were not served the Ritz crackers. There are no known peanut allergies in the Infant Classroom. The Preschool/PreKindergarteners were not served the Ritz crackers as they had bags of trail mix for their snack due to their having a field trip on the morning of October 12, 2007. There are no known peanut allergies in the Preschool/PreKindergarten classroom.
McLean Location:
The McLean location was not served Ritz crackers for their snack on Friday, October 12, 2007. All Ritz crackers were collected and removed to the corporate office.
The Ritz crackers (Nabisco/Kraft product) in question were delivered in two (2) boxes to Spring Hill on Sept. 26, 2007 and October 10, 2007 and to McLean on Sept. 21 three (3) boxes and on October 5 (4 boxes). The boxes did not indicate that they had any peanut products in them OR that they were processed on a machine that exposes them to peanut products. At this time, all orders from Nabisco/Kraft have been halted and will not be used. Any products from Nabisco/Kraft currently in stock will not be used until a level of confidence is restored regarding these products. This information regarding "peanut butter found in a product that is allegedly peanut free" was given to our distributor from US Foods and a representative from Nabisco/Kraft on Friday, October 12, 2007. I was contacted by two reps from US Foods and a rep from Nabisco/Kraft. I am waiting to be contacted further from a rep from Nabisco/Kraft on Monday, October 15, 2007 to discuss this error. I made it very clear about the seriousness of this issue and the lengths we go to in order to keep our environment peanut free. I also made it very clear that if we received this product in error, other organizations who serve children who are at a high risk due to life threatening allergies may also serve this product with dire consequences.


  1. "looked like, smelled like, tasted like...was in fact peanut butter"?! DUH....Tommy's daycare FEEDS them peanut butter and jelly sandwiches!! He hadn't had it before they fed it to him...guess he's not allergic!

  2. Hi - I'm one of those moms with a child with life threatening allergies. I know it really sound weird, but peanut allergies can be that dangerous. My son once reacted eating some safe pretzels at a desk where a pastry with peanut butter was eaten the day before. If you re-read the letter, but instead think of it being about a "can of rat poison," it might help you understand how us PA parents can feel. It would defintely be a haz mat situation for our family!

    Here's a story about a family whose school wasn't as careful as yours:

    Not trying to be over the top, but I hope you can spare some sympathy for your child's schoolmate and family

  3. Greenlady31,

    Don't mistake my questions for lack of sympathy...I think the daycare overreacted. Check out the newer blog.

  4. Earlier this month, some concerns regarding Ritz crackers and potential peanut contamination came to our attention via this blog. We appreciate the seriousness of the concerns raised and want to assure readers of this blog that Kraft Foods takes the issue of food allergens very seriously. This extends throughout our manufacturing process, from procurement of ingredients to production and labeling of our products, and includes the establishment of clear procedures to control and communicate the presence of potential life-threatening allergens in our products.

    When labeling products, we always identify the major allergens as outlined by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and are in full compliance with labeling requirements. We have added consumer-friendly language to complex ingredient names on our labels to help consumers, especially children, easily identify the key ingredients that could cause major allergic reactions.

    I'm pleased to tell you that regular Ritz crackers are not made with peanut ingredients. The "peanut butter issue" is actually caused by a buildup of cracker crumbs on the manufacturing equipment. As the Ritz crackers go through vibratory metal channels on their way to being placed into packages, crumbs break off and combine with oil and salt from the product to form a paste. This paste may look like -- but it is NOT -- peanut butter.

    We have spent a significant amount of time and effort addressing this issue in recent years, including modifying our equipment and implementing more frequent cleanings. While we seem to have reduced the formation of this paste, we continue to look for ways to prevent it.

    In addition, regular Ritz crackers are currently manufactured on lines where neither peanuts nor peanut butter are used in production. In most instances, entire plants where Ritz crackers are manufactured do not produce products containing peanuts or peanut butter.

    Some people may be very sensitive to even minor traces of an allergen and we understand concern about potential carryover between products that are manufactured on shared equipment. If the presence of one of these allergens, like peanuts, may be unavoidable despite all the precautions we take, we label the product as follows: "ALLERGY INFORMATION: MANUFACTURED ON EQUIPMENT THAT PROCESSES PEANUTS."

    However, we believe that this type of "may contain" labeling should be used judiciously -- only when an allergen could be present despite all precautions to prevent it. Also, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration advises that "may contain" labeling should not be used in place of good manufacturing practices that include cleaning of equipment.

    As always, we encourage consumers to carefully read the product labels and ingredient facts panels, consult the website and/or contact Consumer Relations with any questions related to allergens. We hope that our explanation of how this paste forms as well as insight into our allergen labeling efforts means you will consider Kraft products with confidence in the future.

  5. Thanks for the update! I'd read quickly and assumed they were talking about the Ritz Bitz "Cheese" crackers, which do list peanut as an ingredient, which many people (including my son's 1st grade teacher) miss. (Luckily, he learned early to only eat food directly approved by his mom or dad).

    So I agree it was an over-reaction - or rather, I guess my head agrees, but in my heart prefers to keep anything that bears even the slightest resemblence to p.b. far, far away. :-)