A Gentle Rant about Bulk Food Stores and Food Allergies

Please forgive me for standing on my soapbox for this one. I must apologize in advance because we are only just getting to know one another, but this one is pretty important to me, and my beautiful eight-year-old daugher N.

I was reading through status updates on Facebook recently, and one parent friend of mine was asking where she could buy creme of tartar. A series of responses followed, with bulk food stores being the most recommended. Then followed some suggestions for playdough recipes. I made a comment that if the playdough were going to be used in a school setting, then it would be important to take food allergies into consideration.

A response from another parent followed mine. She said that she had sent playdough into schools using ingredients purchased at the bulk food store four times and it had not been a problem for the children with allergies. Well it won’t necessarily be a problem, but there is always a chance that it could be. Bulk food stores are not OK for people with food allergies. The possibility of cross contamination always exists between the bins, so there are no guarantees that the products at a bulk food store do not contain traces of other things like peanuts or nuts, for example.

I have a beautiful daughter with a life-threatening peanut allergy. I believe that I am a fairly level-headed parent dealing with this. I am vigilant. I am not crazed. I am always respectful. In general people are highly understanding and accommodating, and they want to do the right thing (thank you!). But the topic of bulk food stores and food allergies has not been discussed or publicized enough for people to be even aware of the issue. It is completely understandable, so I’m just hoping to get the word out a bit more. If you use products from the bulk bins at the bulk food stores, you just cannot say that they are peanut, nut or anything else-free.

We really have had such a positive experience with the schools and other families on this. The parents of children with allergies who came before us have done such a great job in making life pretty easy for us. I would like to keep that momentum going, and keep making things better.

OK, jumping off my soapbox now. Thanks y’all!

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About Finola

I am an Ottawa area Mom, writer-want-to-be and coffee legend in the making.
This entry was posted in food allergies. Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to A Gentle Rant about Bulk Food Stores and Food Allergies

  1. gryph says:

    It's probably even more difficult now, with buying bulk being more economical. I don't think you should apologize for being on a soapbox for this one, Finola. If people haven't had to deal with food allergies or sensitivities, then they just won't know. And you're level-headed and nice enough to tell them in a nice way. 😉

  2. A Crafty Mom says:

    I'm surprised the teacher didn't mention that the bulk bins weren't a good idea – I think that was included on the ingredient list my kids' kindergarten teachers gave us. And as a teacher I totally understand where you're coming from – I'm shocked in this day and age parents would not be aware of this.

    My boys are only 4 and 5 and they already understand “we don't take that snack to school b/c XYZ could get very sick from it”. It's normal to them.

    I have found myself staying away from Facebook the past few months. Some of people's ridiculous status updates were driving me insane 🙂 Not saying at all that the comment about creme of tatar was out of line, it's just an unrelated commentary by me!

  3. There is no need to apologize. You are being an advocate for your children. I never considered the cross contamination potential with playdough. Thank you for pointing that out. We have family and close friends with life threatening allergies so any information about keeping them safe is greatly appreciated. I do not understand people who balk at reasonable requests. It is a matter of life and death – a no brainer. My thrifty side loves Bulk Barn…but with allergy concerns and cleanliness issues, I will rethink that. Great post! More allergy information is needed so keep it coming…you deliver it in such an easy way. 🙂

  4. Finola says:

    Thanks you three. Those are very thoughtful comments.
    We haven't found a teacher yet who already knew about the bulk bins, but once we mentioned it, they have all been extremely responsive. I think the teachers are doing a fantastic job on this.

  5. Kiera says:

    The bulk barn contamination is even an issue my girls know. Both my girls (6 & 9) are growing up with classmates who have severe allergies (and indeed Daddy does too), that they are even more vigilant than I. A few times, I have accidentally placed items with possible trace contaminants in their lunches, and they have not eaten these items at school for fear of making their friends and classmates sick.

  6. Finola says:

    It sounds like our school is behind all of yours. Perhaps it's time I made contact with the principal.
    Thanks All.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I used to eat food from bulk barn, but found it always to taste stale. Yes its cheap but you have to think of the cost to your health. I think one should really research and trust the store you buy bulk from. The staff at bulk barn always seem so miserable and rude and customers always grab food out of the containers with their bare hands for “samples”. The store gives me a really bad vibe overall. Would never shop there again. I buy my bulk from a small store and a owner I know well.

  8. Jose says:

    Hey just wanted to give you a brief heads up and let you know
    a few of the pictures aren’t loading properly. I’m not sure why but I think its
    a linking issue. I’ve tried it in two different web browsers and both show the same results.

  9. Steph says:

    Hello there! After retuning from my inlaws and having a disagreement on bulk food stores and allergies I had to google the topic. I came across this wonderful post – I then scrolled up and saw the name Finola and thought – how random! Then I realised it was you!!! I feel like a creepy internet stalker but must thank you for this rant. You took the words out of my mouth.

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