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Non Dairy Milks and Cross Contamination Issues



Eat, Learn, Live issued a Manufacturing Allergen Ingredient Labeling Alert for Imagine Foods /Hain Celestial Group Rice Dream Rice Drink (Vanilla, Enriched). The report states:

A child suffered an anaphylactic reaction immediately following ingestion of this product. Note the following product code: Mar 03 09 03MAR09P5FNA 21:24 29-260. The product was purchased in Michigan.  Cross-contamination with milk in the processing of the product is suspected. The product will be tested by FAARP, an independent food allergy testing laboratory at the University of Nebraska to validate the presence of allergen ingredients. The manufacturer has been notified of this incident and invited to post a response on the ELL website.

Several of our customers have been surprised to learn that their non dairy milk had the potential of cross contamination with other allergens. It is our experience that when dealing with alternative milks, there are none available that do not use shared facilities for processing their milks. We had to search hard for a non-dairy milk that was not processed in a facility with peanuts or tree nuts for our daughter.

To help you decide which non-dairy milk is safest for you, we provide you with the information we have received from the suppliers of the milks we carry.

Pacific Foods

Pacific Foods manufactures an oat milk, hazelnut milk, rice milk, almond milk, and soy milk. The company informed us that their facility also processes cashews, corn, dairy and soy. The company does test the product for the presence of dairy. They stated on their allergen questionnaire:

"Before any products are run in the plant, all allergens used are identified by the Ingredient Assurance Specialist. Equipment is then cleaned thoroughly after allergenic products are produced and before use for another non-allergenic products or products containing different allergens. All allergenic products are scheduled at the end of the day so there is time to clean the equipment before the non-allergenic products are run. All ingredients are kept in their own allotted space and are kept separately from non-allergenic ingredients. Finished products are kept separate from one another too. This is standard for our company and rigorously managed."

Hain Celestial

Hain Celestial manufactures a rice milk, almond milk, hemp milk, oat milk, and soy milk. The company will not complete our allergen questionnaire. Every time we have called the company, they state that their facilities are not dedicated facilities and cannot guarantee cross contamination of allergens. An email response from the company did state:

"We assure you that strict manufacturing processes and procedures are in place and that all of our manufacturing facilities follow rigid allergen control programs that include staff training, segregation of allergen ingredients, production scheduling, and thorough cleaning and sanitation."

Living Harvest

This company manufactures a hempmilk. The company confirmed through their questionnaire that their equipment, line, room and plant processes Soy, Gluten and Tree Nuts. They also state:

"Our Hempmilk is produced in a manufacturing plant which processes many types of beverages. The equipment is shared by any of these. The mechanism used however, is the top of the line in technology and exceeds government standards for sanitization and is the same method used to sanitize surgical equipment. In fact, the first several minutes of a run are not used in order to doubly ensure no product from the previous run flows into the next. This takes place even after the cleaning and sterilization process."

Good Karma

This company manufactures a rice milk. Their facility does process Dairy and Soy. We are still awaiting their completed questionnaire, but we have been able to confirm that their facility is free of Peanuts and Tree Nuts.

English Bay

English Bay manufactures a potato milk. Their equipment also processes dairy, egg, soy, wheat, and the facility also processes sulfite. The company tests for Gluten at 6ppm.

We do want to make a note about allergen testing. Our research shows that there are only three commercially available tests for Tree Nuts*: Almond, Walnut & Hazelnut. Tests for Cashew & Pecan are either developed but not available commercially or under development. So if a company states that it tests for Tree Nuts, don't assume that it is safe for you--contact the company to ensure they perform tests on your specific tree nut allergen. There are other tree nuts like Brazil nuts for which there are no tests.  There are allergen tests available for Gliadin (Gluten), Shellfish, Casein, Whey, Dairy, Egg, and Sesame as well.

* Update to blog post dated 04.29.08: Thanks to Mark Clute, QC Manager at Turtle Mountain, we have been informed that there are actually four tests for Tree Nuts which includes Coconut.  To read more about this, visit here.