HumZingers Fruit Stix

HEAVENS, I’M on an allergy friendly roll. What a novelty: two discoveries in as many days. This time it’s a dried fruit snack called HumZingers, which again I came across in Waitrose.

I would have ignored the things if a friend hadn’t mentioned them to me: for one, the name and cheapo Fraggle on the box seem to shout ‘sugar’, ‘additives’, ‘crap’. For another, they’re not stocked in the Free From aisle. But Sidney’s friend Benjamin swears by them (insofar as a 17-month-old can swear by anything) and it turns out they’re sugar free and made simply with dried fruit and fruit extracts. The problem is, the box claims ‘gluten free’ but there’s no mention of nuts etcetera. So I emailed the manufacturers, Humdinger, to find out. The answer:

I can confirm that HumZingers do not contain either nuts or sesame, and that they are packed on a site that does not handle these products. We do handle nuts and sesame but these are produced at separate site. The modified starch is rice flour so does not contain wheat.

As we do with the sulphites that are contained in the product, we would declare any of the 14 food allergens that are dictated by EU legislation  if they were contained in the product or if there was a possibility of cross contamination with any of the list.

Result! How long have I been looking for a healthy, kid-friendly snack that doesn’t contain nuts and the like? I’ve already pointed out how toddler brands like Ella’s Kitchen and Plum snap from being allergy-friendly when the food’s for under-ones to suddenly containing the warning “may contain traces” as soon as their products are suitable for older tots. These are big brands so I still don’t get why they can’t improve their allergy-friendly provision.

Still, slowly (very, very slowly) we’re adding a few more things to the list of stuff that Sidney can eat. Of course the bulk of his meals is homemade, and snacks are usually rice cakes, fresh fruit or yoghurt, but give me a break: sometimes it’s nice to know there’s a pre-packed something out there as well.

From £1.99 for pack of 10, from selected Waitrose, Tesco, Morrisons, Sainsbuy’s, Holland and Barrett and online at Tesco here and Natural Matter here

Risk it for a biscuit?

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?