Letter I've taken to sending out to various companies:
Dear [Company X]
I am one of many people with a potentially lethal allergy to a common ingredient that is not one of the "big eight" allergens as defined by the FDA. Often, the ingredient I am allergic to (peppers) isn't listed in product ingredients lists at all, but is lumped under the ambiguous, aggregate term "spice". As you can imagine, this makes it particularly difficult to know what foods are safe for me to eat. I am writing to you to request that you consider disclosing the full ingredients of your products on the label, in order to help those many people with non-standard, life-threatening allergies shop safely.
Thanks for your consideration,
HEINZ: (bolding mine)
December 8, 2014
Thank you for allowing us the opportunity to explain our manufacturing processes pertaining to food allergens.
Because we understand how difficult it is for consumers with food allergies to find 'safe' processed foods, we clearly list the FDA Top 8 Major Allergens on our ingredient panels if they are present in our products.
The FDA specifies the Top 8 Major Allergens are as follows: Soy; Wheat; Peanuts; Eggs; Dairy; Tree Nuts; Shellfish & Crustaceans; and Fish. These ingredients are listed specifically within our ingredient statements. They are also called out in bold print underneath the ingredient statement. Older packaging will only reflect these allergens within the ingredient statement itself rather than restating the information in bold print.
Because recipes are not patentable, the terms 'natural flavorings' and 'spices' refer to dried spices and seasonings, which are not disclosed on the label for proprietary reasons. MSG is always called out in the ingredient statement and not hidden within natural flavorings or spices.
We do not list if products are run on lines that also produce products that contain allergens such as nuts or wheat. The reason for this is that we follow very strictly HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point) guidelines for food production. Heinz utilizes HACCP systems to monitor specific steps in food production to identify and eliminate potential safety problems. This means that products containing an allergen are scheduled to run last, at the end of the production cycle. This is then followed by a complete breakdown and thorough cleaning of all areas including validation of those cleaning processes, thus eliminating the possibility of cross-contamination.
However, if you would like to have your physician fax us a request on their letterhead with a contact phone number detailing the specific ingredient(s) in question. They can fax that request to: (412) 237-5291.
We hope you will find this information to be helpful. Please be aware that recipes and formulas may change and the best possible source of information is the ingredient statement. Always make sure you read the label every time you buy any product. If you have any further questions, please call us between 8:30 am and 6:00 pm Monday through Friday at 1-800-255-5750.
Heinz Consumer Resource Center
Hi, thanks for your reply.
I don't understand how the ingredients list being my best source of information can be true when you've just told me you won't disclose all the ingredients -- including the one I'm lethally allergic to -- in your ingredients list anyway. Nor how it would be helpful to have my physician fax you a letter informing you I'm allergic to a particular ingredient if you've stated you may change your recipe at any time, unless you would then contact me to inform me which products have changed and become life-threatening each time that they do.
Am I misunderstanding?
No further reply as of yet.