Shea panic


ONE OF THE few mainstream chocolates that is safe for Sidney to eat is Cadbury’s Buttons. This is fantastic because:

* they are kiddie-friendly

* they come in teeny packs so it’s easy to limit the amount he shovels in

* they are available everywhere so it’s the perfect party bag sweet to suggest to friends

* they are available everywhere so it’s the perfect treat for family to buy

* they are available everywhere so if we find ourselves in a situation where we’re out with friends and every kid is having an ice cream, or a cake, or something Sidney can’t have, it’s easy to track down a packet of Buttons for him to enjoy

* they are brilliantly versatile for cake toppings, biscuit decorations, etc

So imagine the panic when a new ingredients listing turned up on selected packets of Buttons a little while ago: shea.

You’ve no doubt seen shea listed in hand creams and body lotions and not given much thought to what it might be. I had no idea. Turns out it’s a West African tree nut.


In fact, chocolate manufacturers – including Cadbury – have been using shea as an ingredient for years. It has just now, under EU law, become compulsory for them to list the constituent parts of the vegetable fats they use. Some packs still bear the old labels, but soon all foods that contain shea will have to declare it along with other fats. So no change of ingredients, thankfully. Meanwhile, allergic reaction to shea nut is highly unlikely and it is not necessary to list shea as an allergen. See here and here for more.

Caution should still be exercised when using shea skin products as there is some suggestion that contact with broken skin may cause sensitisation ( i.e. provoke allergy).

But buttons are good to go.


2 thoughts on “Shea panic

  1. In the US, it’s considered a tree nut in food labelling, I believe … But you’re right: no apparent allergenic potential.
    Interesting re: the new law requiring the vegetable oils to be declared. At a talk at Food Matters Live a speaker said that ‘vegetable oil’ can be a way of ‘hiding’ ‘palm oil’ in foods – is that to be changed too, do you know?

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