SnackSafely.com provides information to improve the lives of the estimated 32 million Americans coping with food allergies - 5.9 million of which are children - by partnering with companies that manufacture allergy-friendly products.
The site was founded by Debra Bloom and her husband Dave after they discovered their daughter was allergic to peanuts and eggs. At the time, their daughter’s school did not have any policies in place to protect children from anaphylaxis, a serious, life-threatening allergic reaction.
The Blooms created what would evolve into the Safe Snack Guide to encourage adoption of allergy-friendly classrooms by providing a comprehensive list of safe snack suggestions to encourage compliance by busy parents.
“Due to shortcomings in the FDA’s labeling guidelines regarding allergens, consumers concerned with food allergies and intolerances cannot rely on the label alone to trust that a product is safe,” said Debra Bloom.
In response, SnackSafely.com developed a proprietary platform that enables manufacturers to supply ingredient and allergen processing information in a straightforward, uniform, unambiguous way.
It has publications that serve the food allergy and K-12 school communities with important information that help safeguard those with food allergies in their everyday lives: The SnackSafely.com Blog; the Safe Snack Guide; and the Allergence product screening service.
This explains how 11 of the most common allergens are processed during the manufacture of thousands of products, including shared line/facility information not found on the label or anywhere else.
“We publish up to three articles a week and cross-post each to our social media and over 30 closed Facebook and LinkedIn food allergy discussion groups, drawing a large, nationwide audience with diverse needs and views,” added Bloom.
The Safe Snack Guide has food options for individuals with food allergies as well as alternatives to be used as part of an allergen exclusion policy for classrooms, youth sports leagues, camps and scouting groups.
Where people congregate and consume snacks in the presence of allergic individuals, the Guide provides options to limit the opportunities for contact exposure.
“The guide is an extensive catalogue selected from over 2,000 commonly available products. Our traditional guide provides options free of peanuts and tree nuts, and hundreds free of the FALCPA 'Top 8' allergens: peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, milk, soy, wheat, fish and crustacean shellfish. Users may also choose to create a Custom Safe Snack Guide tailored to exclude any combination of 11 allergens,” said Bloom.
A symbol preceeding each entry indicates which allergens the product is marketed free of or manufactured in a facility free of such. Entries are followed by abbreviations indicating the product has received industry-recognised kosher,organic, non-GMO or gluten-free certifications.
“Despite common misconceptions, food manufacturers are not required to disclose the potential for cross-contact with common allergens and many do not. Warnings such as 'may contain traces of peanuts' and 'manufactured on equipment that processes milk' are entirely voluntary; there are no guidelines for when they should be used or how they should be worded. Absence of these warnings does not mean the product is safe, even from large, well-known manufacturers,” added Bloom.