For those of us who have been living with food allergies for a while, we know the importance of checking food labels every single time we shop. The problem is, all of the non-food items in our home also need to be checked regularly. This goes beyond just household, personal care, medications, and beauty products which should each be evaluated by calling the manufacturer. Depending on your allergy, you could be exposed to allergens through furniture, craft products, pesticides, carpet, bedding, and more. These items may also need to be verified with the manufacturer.
The other problem that comes product usage is that manufacturers can change ingredients at any time, so just because you bought that laundry detergent last time doesn’t mean that the same laundry detergent can be purchased again without checking. Here are a few tips to cutting down on so many phone calls:
- Order products from companies that explicitly state which items their products are free from. This could help cut down on phone calls unless there are some “hidden” ingredients that you could be concerned about. For some companies, it may be worth the extra phone call just to double-check that “soy free” really means that there is no soy at all.
- If you see that the company website or label has changed or they no longer state their “free from” list, this means that you will need to start calling each time you purchase.
- Just because a company does not state that their product is free from an allergen does not mean that the product could still be OK to use. Some companies choose not to publish all of their allergen information even though they are allergy-aware. It’s best to call.
- If you already know you like a product and know it is safe to use, buy in bulk so that you do not have to call again for a while.
- When a new product arrives, spot-test a very small amount. Manufacturers can still make mistakes, and there can also be other items in the product that you could be sensitive to. For instance, don’t take that new makeup and cover your whole face with it until you have tested a small amount in an inconspicuous place like the back of your neck or your chest.
- DO NOT take anyone’s word for whether a product is safe or not. There are lots of social media boards and even advice from your pharmacist or doctor that may not contain the most up-to-date information. Only you can make the final decision based on careful research.
- Do not have a friend or relative call for you. If you are one of the fortunate folks that have friends and family that want to help, I would recommend asking them to help in other ways other than having them make phone calls for you. They may be educated 100%, but it is YOU who will ultimately be using this product. Peace of mind that you made the phone call will be worth it.
- If a company starts by reading you the ingredients, you will need to explain that ingredients do not tell you what you need to know. Let them know that you are concerned about ingredients derived from your allergen and cross-contact as well. You can ask that they speak to their chemist to find out the derivation of the ingredients. Many companies are happy to speak with the chemist and call you back, and the companies that are rude or unhelpful do not deserve your business anyway.
Since it’s time for spring cleaning, this may be a great time to take a few extra minutes and make a few phone calls about your favorite products. The extra time could be well worth it.