Recently, the Winn-Dixie grocery store chain issued a recall of its canned green beans over concerns that peanuts had made their way into the manufacturing process. According to the company, the same manufacturer that processes the green beans also uses the equipment to package peanuts.

The grocery store chain is far from the only food manufacturer to recall a product over the past year due to allergy concerns, There have been cases of accidentally mixing the wrong ingredient into a batch, mislabeling one food variety for another, and causing cross-contamination by failing to clean shared equipment. Such errors, which lead to dozens of food recalls each year, are a frightening prospect for anyone with a food allergy.

Over the past year, recalls due to the unlabeled presence of peanuts have included Almond Clusters made by See’s Candies, yogurt-covered raisins recalled by Eillien’s Candies, General Mills’ Fiber One Bars, and Kroger’s Moose Tracks ice cream. For people who are allergic to peanuts, there are recalls to follow on an almost weekly basis.

While the mistake may be easy to understand, for those with severe food allergies, simple mistakes could be deadly. And with so many types of food being processed by major food manufacturers, there is plenty of room for error. While the FDA requires packaged foods to contain warning labels if they are known to contain any of the top 8 food allergens, companies are not required to list warnings that cross-contamination is possible.

Plus, with the possibility of unintentional inclusion of food allergens, as is the case with many food recalls, reading food labels to check the ingredient list simply isn’t enough. One wrongly packaged can of green beans or granola bar could easily put someone with a peanut allergy in the hospital.

What is your strategy for dealing with this risk?

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