The more I learn about food allergies the more I realize how little I knew when this process started. I called most major food brands over a year ago to ask questions and at the time were satisfied with their answers. Now and then I tend to call back regarding specific items, especially of the “snack pack” variety because they are often made on shared lines that aren’t cleaned and since a may contain is a voluntary label, I feel better calling to double check and while I’m on the phone I now ask more specific questions about products in general. Today I called Nabisco because I bought their new Angry Birds Snack Pack graham crackers and I was less than pleased with my phone conversation. When I asked about reducing cross contamination through employees I was told “yeah, sure, we do that”. Hmmmm. “yeah, sure”? “Yeah, sure” is what my 4 year old says when she has no clue what to say. It’s also what people say when they aren’t paying attention. I informed the man that “yeah, sure” is never an acceptable answer when fielding questions regarding life or death. He still didn’t seem to concerned. So I asked to speak to someone else, but at the time anyone that could answer my questions was busy. I said that was fine and I could wait on hold or if he wouldn’t mind taking my name and number and submitting it to whoever could answer my questions. Well, I learned it is not their policy to take people’s names and numbers for questions to be answered by someone who may have the answer and was told to just try and call back later. Oh, right in ALL my free time, I’ll just call back and hope someone is available. Obviously, this person doesn’t have children and doesn’t schedule his day around naptime and Leapster time. I decided to go the email route first. Here is the email I sent to Nabisco today:
Dear Customer Service,
I just ended a phone call with your customer service regarding allergen precautions in your facilities. I am writing to tell you that I was very disappointed in the answers I received. Not because they weren’t what I wanted to hear, but because the person answering your customer service didn’t speak well enough English to answer my direct questions. To almost every question I received the stock answer of “if it does or could contain the allergen it would be labeled on the box” and when I asked a specific question of cross contamination I received the answer of “yeah, sure”. I’m going to tell you that when a parent calls with questions or concerns regarding a life threatening condition for their child “yeah, sure” is not an answer. You will lose customers with that answer. It makes the person answering the phone and your company seem like they don’t take these concerns seriously. I was then told that “I answer these calls all day long, you believe the answer I’m giving you”. Again, when you aren’t answering my specific question, I do not believe you. After being placed on hold I was told that no one was available to answer my specific questions and that I would have to call back. I asked to wait on hold or have my name and number taken for a phone call back (which many companies do) and was told that was not your policy and I would just have to try again later. Since I am a busy mom of 2 kids and took 5 minutes of quiet to call, I opted this route to have my questions answered for now.
1. Since you share lines, what methods are taken to clean equipment between producing allergen ingredients and non-allergen ingredients?
2. Are your workers decontaminated as well? Will a person working a line with an allergen change their coat, gloves, hat, etc before working a line that is allergen free?
3. Do you test raw ingredients coming into your facility?
4. How often do you test your product for allergen to ensure that your sanitation methods are working?
I would like to thank you for your time and I hope in the future if I have to call your company for information, the person answering the phone is more informed. You may also contact me via phone at 410-XXX-XXXX.
I am looking forward to their response. I will share with you, my readers, when I get it.