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How to contact a company about allergens

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contact manufacturer about allergens

Allergens are prevalent in modern society, and that of course includes the products we consume and use every day. Worse, only the common allergens ("top 8" in the US) are required to be labeled on the packaging -- and only in food items. Ingredients of ingredients (as in some medications with inactive ingredients) won't typically be labelled. Information about shared lines and/or facilities is optional. Allergic consumers cannot rely on accuracy in labelling. When you find a new-to-you product, always contact the manufacturer about potential cross-contamination. Have the product's ingredient list ready at the time of contact. Use this information to create a list of questions.

Where to find contact information

Most companies will have a web site with both a phone number and an email address or other contact form. I like to email if possible so there is no misunderstand about what is being asked. It also creates a "paper trail" in case the company representative has to ask others in the company for the information. It is not enough to ask if the product contains [allergen]. For less common allergens, customer service may not know whether "modified food starch" is derived from, wheat, corn, buckwheat, or teff.

Sample form letter

Dear Any Company:

I have just discovered [product]! I am severely allergic to [allergen], and would like to know if this product contains [allergen] or any derivatives of [allergen]. I am particularly concerned about [allergen] derivative as listed in the ingredients. I would also like to verify that [allergen] is not used in the packaging process including pre-coating of any plastic packaging. Additionally, what other allergens are present on a shared line or in a shared facility with this product?

Thank you for any information you can provide about the safety of your product. I'm certain you understand the difficulty of living with an [allergen] allergy. I look forward to your prompt reply.

Sincerely,
Your Name

What next?

Well, what's next depends on the response you get. The most common official response is a form letter about top 8 allergens labelled on the product's packaging, and perhaps something about their manufacturing practices. That's all well and good if you are only reactive to top-8 allergens. Those of us who are reactive to other things will need to contact them further about asking their suppliers about the [allergen]-free status of this product.

If the product is a medication, you can also try asking the drug company directly about the source of their ingredients if the product manufacturer can't or won't provide the information you need. Pharmaceutical companies should be able to provide that information, even if it means asking for a manager or otherwise going over the head of the customer service department.

Any further seeming evasions about your particular allergen should be taken seriously. If I can't get a straight answer, I take my business elsewhere. I don't like being sick for a "maybe it's all right" response. Why take chances, right? Your health should be your primary concern. Protect it!

Tealmermaid's Treasure Grotto
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