In the United States, there are no lines of ice cream that are dedicated to being nut-free. Even those that do not contain peanut ingredients are processed on lines that previously processed nuts. As a result, many parents do not allow their children with peanut allergies to eat store bought ice cream. However, there are a few major brands that are known for being relatively safe for those with peanut allergies, depending on what you consider an acceptable level of risk.
Breyer’s Ice Cream is not processed on dedicated peanut-free production lines, but the company says “We do have a very strict allergen-handling policy. If there is an allergen concern on a manufacturing line, the machine is disassembled and thoroughly cleaned. Our historical results and process verification testing for allergens has shown that these steps are effective at removing allergenic proteins.”
Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream is another possibility. While their ice cream facilities do process nuts, Ben and Jerry’s says “Our policies and procedures are such that if peanuts or tree nuts are not listed in the ingredient declaration or in an Allergy Information statement in boldface on the package, then the product is safe to consume for persons with allergies to those ingredients.” In addition, the company is a member of the Food Allergy Network and the Food Allergy Resource and Research Program.
Many of those with peanut allergies avoid ice cream parlors and restaurants serving ice cream because of the high possibility of cross-contamination. Often, the scoops are re-used with different flavors, and the shop serves toppings containing peanuts. It is believed that ice cream has one of the highest levels of cross-contamination of any type of food.
Another option for those with peanut allergies who want ice cream is to make it at home. Homemade ice cream allows for the most control over the ingredients and is a way to avoid cross-contamination.
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