As an allergy mum when it comes to label reading I could write a whole book about label reading. It is a constant and something I do with every shop, even on brands that we regularly buy.
For anyone suffering from a strict dietary requirement like an intolerance, coeliac disease or allergy, knowing that ingredients of a food product can simply change without needing to change the front of the packaging is really scary.
It was really strange but when the new year started and we went back to the shops in January, a couple of regular and also one of our favourite foods had changed ingredients meaning that they were no longer safe for us to have. Regarding the favourite one was deeply upsetting because Calvin loved it and to us, it was perfect. I can get one alternative but I have to go to a different shop which is a bit out of our way.
Before becoming an allergy mum, I already read labels but more looking for the information on calories, carbs, protein and fats as well as the ingredients. I have always preferred products with just the ingredients in them that I would recognise and consider as nutritional. In the Free From world, I still favour products that have clear ingredients lists and nothing 'obscure' in them.
I also had to learn 'new words' and 'term' like that 'gram flour' is made from chickpeas and all the different names for 'peanut': 'ground nut', 'goober', 'moneky nut' or 'Arachis hypogaea'.
Label reading does not stop at foods for us and then it becomes a lot trickier as on other products like cosmetics, cleaning products or lotions, the label and terminology of ingredients may vary. For example, we had reactions from laundry liquid because it contained 'whey' which is dairy and we are allergic to it. Calvin is so reactive that even things that I wear like lip balm, lotion or perfume, I need to know that they are safe because otherwise I could cause him a reaction.
Label reading has become a family affaire and it is good to share the load. If Daddy or I find a new product, we always cross check with each other if it is safe before trying it. My family and friends have been very understanding and are always so kind to check with us or share with us when they found something new to see if we can have it.
At the beginning, label reading took a long time and felt exhausting but these days it has become a habit and it makes us feel safe. Personally, I prefer things that I can see safely packaged and pre-assess before we eat it. It has not taken away the joy of eating for us but reassures us.
If you want to find out more Allergy UK is a great online resource to support you on your allergy journey.