As someone with a severe nut allergy, I’ve gained a knowledge of food packets throughout my life that would leave any digital database trying to catch up. It might seem strange to someone outside of my experience to see me grocery shopping or to comprehend the things I have to put up with every day regarding what I can and cannot consume. You might not think it’s all that important but the reality is, it is! We think about food on average every 62 minutes a day and need it in order to survive.
So why is it that those such as myself with allergies remain the unheard and ignored minority? Particularly when eating in restaurants, that dreaded phrase always seems to come up: May contain traces of nuts. Legally speaking, restaurants, companies and their packaging alike use these words to cover all their grounds so that should something happen to me because of their product, they cannot then be sued. This is all well and good but there is an extent to which it should be used. Should it be used to keep people safe from potential contamination? Yes, 100%. But should it be placed everywhere just to ensure that someone doesn’t get sued, even if it might not be the case? No, this is not fair and leads to gross misuse.
That gross misuse has become more and more frequent since 2004, with food packaging increasingly restricting my diet. This is especially the case with anything sweet. Of course in a regular balanced diet, this isn’t something I eat much of but still it would be nice to have something every once in a while. Go to the cake isle of any super market and find me a nut free cookie or birthday cake, I dare you. But if you don’t want to get up and go right now, let me inform you of what you’ll find. You’ll find lots of nut based products, but then next to them you’ll find perfectly nut free counterparts all possessing that infamous slogan of, you guessed it, may contain traces of… This is similar with already packaged foods such as biscuits and cereal bars, of which there is often the odd variant of me being allowed the cereal bars but then not the cereal itself! Surely this is an impossible paradoxical juxtaposition? How can I eat a bar made of the cereal that supposedly contains nuts?
This has been something simmering away at the back of my conscience now, alongside how on earth I am supposed to attempt Veganism when everything on the free from isle ‘may contain traces of nuts’. How ironic – but that’s another story. My main point here is that it’s time allergy sufferers weren’t the ignored minority, especially as that minority is growing with 1 in 3 now having a nut allergy. We are worth so much more than being dismissed by legal jargon and left uncatered for because people don’t understand how severe allergies can be. In conclusion, as I put in my new anaphylaxis Twitter Campaign: I can assure you that no, I do not like making a fuss and this is extremely serious. And yes, I will die.
It’s time for change. Please join me in the fight for a nut free revolution over at @emordnilap97!