I have a dilemma.
I know most ‘may contain’ food labelling is about arse-covering more than anything else, but do we let our nut, egg and sesame allergic Sidney eat pre-packaged foods that, on the face of it, are fine to eat, but contain the rotten little addendum: “Produced in a factory that handles egg, nuts and seeds”?
Our doctor, who we like very much because he’s sensible yet sunny, says those ‘may contain’ goods are most likely fine to eat if they’re from a major manufacturer or a household name supermarket. But, as he puts it, it depends on how risk averse you are.
I’d like not to be risk averse. I don’t want Sidney to go through life fearing travel, or eating out, or even eating in. I don’t want to deny him foods that would actually be fine to eat out of some vague sense of panic and because the brand’s lawyers said ‘stick that on there just in case someone sues’.
Today at Sainsbury’s I hovered over the baby snacks aisle, and two packs I hadn’t seen before: Plum’s ‘Strawberry Oaty Chomps’ and Ella’s Kitchen ‘Strawberries & Apples Nibbly Fingers’.
At the moment, his only between-meal snacks are fresh fruit, rice cakes, those full of air sweetcorn puff things and yoghurt. It would be lovely to let him have something different and these new bars seem all good: fruit, oats, quinoa…
But they are both produced in the bloody factory that also produces nuts blah blah. I have to confess, it annoys the hell out of me. The foods they make for younger babies have no such warnings; I assume it’s because controls are far stricter for the under-1s and that, once they’re past 12 months, it gets more of a faff, and more expensive, for the manufacturers to continue to be so rigorous.
So I hovered, and I picked them up, and I bought them, and now they’re sitting in our special allergy drawer in the kitchen (yes, we have one). But I’m too nervous to let him eat them. Yet.
What would you do?