It’s a well known fact that most allergy parents tend to dread certain holidays. Christmas, and also, Easter, cause us all to be on even higher alert than normal due to the buying, selling and receiving of confectionary goods. With cows milk allergy, it poses a potentially difficult situation.
Not so long ago, it was impossible to find a safe alternative. Thanks to the wonderful companies such as No Muu, Moo Free, Choices, and Kinnerton, there are now viable options for anyone with a milk allergy (and more) to enjoy.
Now, it stands to reason that other companies are cottoning on to the fact that the allergy safe market is one to join. In fact, there has never been a better time to find safe products as companies realise there is a huge gap in the market and start to plug it.
I think it’s wonderful!
I really do!
The variety of choice is improving, and the quality of the products is constantly improving too.
The most important bit for me though, the world is waking up to the reality of allergies, understanding there is a serious need for safe products, and delivering them to us the consumer.
If you are going to launch a product into the allergy world, you really need to do your homework! Don’t underestimate quite how much a safe product is wanted, and realise that if a new, potentially safe products arrives on the market, the allergy world will leap on it quicker than vultures to fresh meat.
A case in point…..
Hotel Chocolat recently launched their ‘Milk-free Milk Chocolate’ in the UK in time for Easter. The allergy world quite literally went bonkers for it.
A new product, from a highly reputable and upmarket chocolatier. It almost seemed too good to be true! A marketing coup for Hotel Chocolat, or was it?
Sadly, events have unfolded over the weekend, which has left Hotel Chocolat with egg on their face, and a large volume of very unhappy customers.
It all unfolded on Thursday evening, on social media, with the realisation dawning on a number of people that the ‘milk-free milk chocolate’ may not be as safe as initially believed. A lot of anger, understandably, has been vented over the fact that the products were found to be unsafe for milk allergy sufferers once the offices had closed for the bank holiday weekend, meaning little could be done until after the weekend. Too late for those using the products for Easter!
There have been stories pertaining to a child being hospitalised due to a severe reaction, but this is only alleged, and so far I have not seen any proof of this.
Hotel Chocolat have technically not done anything ‘wrong’, per say. The problem resolves around their labelling. There is a very strong insinuation that it should be ‘safe’ for allergy sufferers due to the language they use.
If they had mentioned ‘may contain milk due to manufacturing methods’ or even ‘not suitable for milk allergy sufferers due to manufacturing methods’ then there wouldn’t be so much hoohah as people could make an informed decision as to whether the chocolate was safe or not.
I was sent a screen shot of one of the chocolate products in question, and I have to say, it does hint that it should be safe:
What do you think? Would you agree?
To give you an understanding of the seriousness of the situation, Callum has an immediate IgE mediated response to dairy. He will most likely have (and previously has had) an anaphylaxis response if he consumes any dairy. The product has been labelled in such a way, it appears to be safe for a milk allergy sufferer, when in actual fact it has a very high cross contamination risk. Even traces of milk can cause a severe reaction in Callum.
A complaint was made to Hotel Chocolat directly, which resulted in emails being sent out to all customers on their mailing list:
A commendable reaction, I’m sure you will all agree.
But what about the customers who haven’t signed up to their mailing list? Those that bought in shops? Those receiving the chocolate as gifts?
Social media showed its strength over the course of Thursday night, Good Friday, and Saturday in the run up to Easter Sunday. Much of the allergy world jumped in to request assistance from the FSA and also Allergy UK to ensure the information got to as many people as possible.
It achieved such a high audience, many people who might otherwise have missed out on the vital information were able to see it and make informed decisions.
Eventually, the products in question were actually recalled due to fears over safety, and refunds are now being offered. More details can be found in the link below.
I just hope that no-one suffered any adverse reactions if they have consumed the products in question, particularly innocent little ones just looking to enjoy some chocolate.
It’s a sad situation, but there are positives to come from this!
- Credit to Hotel Chocolat for their quick reaction on realising there was a problem, and working with social media, the FSA and Allergy UK to ensure the situation was rectified as best as possible
- Credit to the FSA for releasing the recall notification over the bank holiday
- A big thank you to Allergy UK for their unwavering support for allergy sufferers, no matter what time of day or night! (Tweets were being sent at 11pm on Thursday night!)
Personally, I hope that Hotel Chocolat don’t give up on their quest for joining the allergy world. They have a wonderful selection of delicious products, it would be great to see them be able to offer their high quality goods to the allergy world as well, as long as they are labelled correctly and accurately!!