Last weekend we enjoyed our trip to attend the wedding. Our daughter’s restaurant meal was perfect, and at the reception she was too enthralled with the whole event to notice what she was eating. Of course at both venues she had the best desserts of anyone in the room. Lugging your own packaged desserts cross-country might seem extreme unless you have ever required epinephrine or witnessed someone who did.
I was reflecting on this when I read the Sweet Alexis blog post: “Beware of bakeries making False Allergy claims.“ The author, Michelle — who I assume is the founder of Sweet Alexis — related an incident in which a new cupcake baker, selling at some festival, made a cavalier and obviously false claim to be able to bake “allergy free.” After Michelle took the baker to task, the baker dismissed her concern with “I have a degree in food science and I have insurance.” Michelle was naturally incensed.
As a food allergic parent I’d also be infuriated, but given what I’ve learned and heard from “normal” bakers, pastry chefs, and food executives, I’m not terribly surprised. Plenty of food industry people we’ve met think we’re insane to have a dedicated facility; I’ve stopped counting how many have questioned why we’re not using a co-packer. They just don’t get it. Here’s who “they” are: people who don’t have to deal with food allergies as a fact of life.
We’ve learned you just cannot assume that a food vendor/sales clerk/waiter/party host takes your allergies as seriously as you do unless you know they are related to someone with a serious food allergy. Even if they have the best of intentions, their best intention might not be sufficiently well informed.
Committing to use a dedicated facility comes at a significant economic costs, both explicit and opportunity costs. It is also a signal of just how seriously the brand takes food allergy safety.