Parents concerned after peanut flour is added to popular snack crackers

Posted at 10:34 AM, Jun 09, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-09 16:00:58-04

A big change in a popular snack could put millions of people at risk.  Kellogg recently added an allergen to some of its popular sandwich crackers. It's a change that has one local father worried about a horrible outcome.

Four-year-old Sean Bouda is allergic to peanuts, "it's always just being mindful."  His parents are constantly checking labels to make sure he doesn't eat the wrong thing. 

Dad, Chris told us "every time you feed him something you're nervous about 'is this the food that's going to send him to the hospital?' 

The Bouda's have staple foods they know don't contain peanuts, but a big change by Kellogg has been a wake up call for Chris and his wife to always check the label on everything.  "It just really scares you," Chris said. 

In April, Kellogg added peanut flour to some of its cheese sandwich crackers. Even though they're not a regular snack for his son, Chris was shocked to hear Kellogg added an allergen.  

"To think that somebody out there is going to feed their kid a cracker and think 'hey this was fine, they're going to be ok' and have this kind of potential risk, this just dismays you."

The ingredient change was made to eight flavors of Keebler and Austin sandwich crackers. There are new labels on the packaging and peanut flour is now on the ingredient list.  Kellogg did give advance notice about the changes, but parents want to know "why" so we reached out to the company. 

According to a Kellogg spokesperson, the crackers are "now going to be made on the same line as food made with peanut ingredients.  As a consequence, we added peanut flour to the recipe..."

Dr. Asriania Chiu, an allergist at Children's Hospital, pointed out "the concern of course is it was a previously safe product." 

Peanut allergies are on the increase in the U.S.  The number of children diagnosed between 1997 and 2008 tripled.  Dr. Chiu says the Kellogg ingredient change is a big reminder for anyone with food allergies.  "It really emphasizes that parents and families, and patients, should be very vigilant about reading labels even on things they think were safe before."

The potential risk to families that didn't see the warnings about the company's ingredient change makes Chris emotional.  "You worry if they go to that store that one time and forget to look. It's just hard to think of that tragedy."

There is an online petition on asking the company to reconsider the ingredient change claiming Kellogg's decision will put thousands of peanut-allergic consumers, who already eat these sandwich crackers, at risk. So far there are more than 28,000 signatures.

Kellogg told us its been listening to the input of concerned parents and is committed to making more sandwich crackers without peanut ingredients. Starting with Austin Grilled Cheese Sandwich crackers; they will be peanut free and on store shelves in September.

List of Kellogg sandwich crackers that now contain peanut flour:

  • Austin® Cheddar Cheese Cracker Sandwiches
  • Austin® Pepper Jack Cracker Sandwiches
  • Austin® Variety Pack Cracker Sandwiches
  • Austin® Grilled Cheese Cracker Sandwiches
  • Keebler® Club® & Cheddar Sandwich Crackers
  • Keebler® Cheese & Cheddar Sandwich Crackers
  • Keebler® Pepper Jack Sandwich Crackers
  • Keebler® Variety Pack Sandwich Crackers

Full statement from Kellogg about the ingredient change:

At Kellogg, the health and safety of our consumers is something we take very seriously. That is why we communicated ahead of time about changes to the ingredients in certain Keebler and Austin sandwich crackers, which will be reflected clearly on the label. Our announcement was only focused on these eight products.

These products are now going to be made on the same line as food made with peanut ingredients. As a consequence, we added peanut flour to the recipe, so that peanut now appears in the ingredient statement and we put "Contains Peanuts" on the label.

We know it's not easy to find foods that people with peanut allergies can eat. Based on the conversations we've had with parents, our team is working to find ways to make more sandwich crackers without peanut ingredients. We are starting by making our Austin Grilled Cheese Sandwich Crackers without peanut products. They will be available in stores around the country starting in September. As always, we remind consumers to read the package label prior to every purchase.

We are continuing to look at ways to provide more options in the future that people with peanut allergies can eat.

-Kris Charles, Kellogg Company spokesperson

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