P&G Brands Recant Statements About Nuts; Continues to Confuse the Allergy Community

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Update, February 8th, 2016: We’ve updated the original post to include screen grabs and the 2014 P&G PDF that lists ingredients. We’ve also written a new update here.

Last Tuesday, Scratch or Sniff published this lengthy article, after days of research and calls to several P&G brands. The TL;DR is this: P&G has confirmed, various times, to Scratch or Sniff and hundreds of consumers, that several common household products (Dawn, Swiffer, Febreze, etc) include peanut and tree nut oils without disclosing on the packaging. We continued to call after the article went live to confirm our findings, and brand representatives as well as P&G’s website confirmed the presence of “traces of nuts” in products, including their hypoallergenic products (Dawn Pure Essentials and Allergen Reducer.) Dawn, Swiffer, and Febreze offered refunds to consumers who asked for them due to peanut and tree nut allergies.

Over the weekend, however, several Scratch or Sniff readers starting receiving contradictory phone calls and emails from P&G.

We appreciate your contacting us with your comments about peanut oil in our Dawn products and understand your concerns. We’ve looked into your question further and have received confirmation that none of our Dawn dishwashing liquids contain peanut oil. We require that all perfumes and fragrances in our products are free of peanut oil or any of its derivatives. Also, P&G requires our labels on the packaging indicate if the product contains nut oils. We are working as quickly as possible to correct the information on our websites.”

P&G Recants Statement About Nuts; Continues to Confuse the Allergy Community (p&g brands)

Dawn called me (as a consumer, not as the owner of Scratch or Sniff) and we had this conversation:

Dawn rep: “Just letting you know this call is being recorded.”

RC: “Hold on one second. Okay, this call is being recorded on my end, as well.”

Dawn rep: “We did look into your question further. We have received confirmation that none of our Dawn dishwashing liquids contain any kind of peanut oil or their derivatives. We also want to let you know that we require
 that all perfumes and fragrances in our products are free of peanut oil or their derivatives. If any of our products do contain nut oils it will be stated on the packaging. We do require it on the labels, that if they do have nut oil, that it is on there. So we wanted to let you know. We are also working to update the information on our website so it does have the correct information there.”

RC: “When I spoke with Dawn last week, I was told there absolutely are traces of peanuts in the product. You’re telling me moving forward there will no longer be, or currently there aren’t any?

Dawn rep: “There are not any. There has not been any. If there had been any, we would definitely have it on the label.”

RC: “Do you know why I was told otherwise?”

Dawn rep: “I don’t know why that information was shared. In general, we do just say that unless it specifically states it on the packaging, it could possibly contain some trace amounts, because our perfumes are usually purchased through other businesses. But with this, basically, we do actually have done that additional research at this time to verify that there are no peanut oil or peanut byproducts at all.”

Last week’s email to Tiffany, Scratch or Sniff writer:

P&G Recants Statement About Nuts; Continues to Confuse the Allergy Community

And this week’s email:

P&G Recants Statement About Nuts; Continues to Confuse the Allergy Community

This information coupled with the information we all received – repeatedly – last week is confusing, to say the least. The website still lists peanut oil, almond oil, and sesame oil in ingredient lists, and people have emails from P&G brands with completely opposing information. If P&G brands are indeed moving forward with labeling products that contain a trace amount of peanuts, I’d say that’s a win for the allergy community, but this debacle has likely caused P&G to lose credibility among some its consumers.

Roo Ciambriello

If Scratch or Sniff founder/editor Roo Ciambriello could list all of her favorite things, they'd include her sweet little family, food trucks, and every AMA Snoop Dogg has done on Reddit. Roo is a copywriter out of New Haven, Connecticut, and loves writing fun stories on the backs of potato chip bags and cereal boxes in Whole Foods, Target, Nordstrom, Kroger, y mucho mas. Roo creates voices for brands, ghostwrites for celebrities, writes a personal website, and is (much to the chagrin of those around her) pretty active on Twitter. You can also find her providing commentary on advertising/branding at Adweek and eating fajitas on deadline days.

28 Comments to P&G Brands Recant Statements About Nuts; Continues to Confuse the Allergy Community

  1. Lauren

    That’s crazy confusing. Who is to say that they won’t come back next week with “a sorry, my b, Barb misspoke, and we’ve got peanut oil coming out of our ears over here”? At the moment, my kid doesn’t have any allergies, but that doesn’t mean as a consumer (and a concerned person for the health of people with allergies), I’m not a little weirded out by the fact that they can’t seem to get a grip on what actually goes into their products. Not good, P&G.

    • Tiffany

      Thanks for stopping by, Lauren. We’re a bit puzzled, but P&G is updating their information on their website, so hopefully it becomes much more clear to us all.

  2. Rachel

    I called Dawn last week and spoke with a representative. At first, she said that while ‘some’ of their products may contain a peanut oil, I could go online to the Dawn website and look for a full list of ingredients, including the fragrance. I then told her that I had already been online, and reading Scratch and Sniff information, and that there was a consensus that Dawn products did contain a peanut oil. I was put on a brief hold, and when she came back she said no, the Dawn dishsoap does not have peanut oil. When I asked to speak to a supervisor b/c I had read very different findings I was put on another hold. When she came back she said all the supervisors were currently unavailable but that she did confirm not that yes, all the Dawn dishsoaps DO have peanut oil. I was very upset, and left my email for a supervisor to contact me and explain how on earth they could not label such a huge allergen on their product, No one has emailed me back, and absolutely at no point was there any mention of a refund. It’s disheartening to find out that I’ve been using a product every day that may be contribution to my sons allergies, and extremely sensitive skin (A Topic Dermatitis). And then to boot, to have so much confusion surrounding the subject, the fragrance, and all the misinformation that’s being given. Does anyone have an alternative soap they’ve switched to that they can recommend…that does not have the peanut oil in the fragrance?

    • Chris

      I agree this is a VERY confusing situation.
      We switched to Seventh Generation Natural Dish Liquid. They have fragranced varieties: Lavender, but we use the free & clear. It leaves no residue, cuts grease, and has no fragrance.
      We’ve also switched to their Laundry Detergent (f&c) and have noticed my daughters skin is clearer and she doesn’t complain of itching as often.
      You can find their products at Target, SAMs & Walmart, and online as well.

      • Rachel

        Thanks Chris :) . I’m going to give Seventh Generation a shot. I appreciate the recommendation a lot.

    • Tiffany

      Several readers have shared that they’ve had good luck with Seventh Generation, Rachel.

      As a quick FYI, my Target had a deal on the brand this week–I think it was buy four get one free? And then another reader said Target also features Seventh Generation on their cartwheel app this week for another 5% off. Might be worth checking out as you make the switch!

      • Rachel

        Thank You. I went and purchased a bunch of Seventh Generation products, so fingers crossed. FYI, here is the email. received from a supervisor from P&G today:

        Thanks for contacting Dawn, Rachel.

        We appreciate your contacting us with your comments about peanut oil in Dawn and products. We understand your concerns especially since you have a son with a severe peanut allergy. We’ve looked into your question further and have received confirmation that none of our Dawn products contain peanut oil. We require that all perfumes and fragrances in our products are free of peanut oil or any of its derivatives. Also, P&G requires our labels on the packaging indicate if the product contains nut oils. So if any of the other P&G products you use – such as Cascade – don’t list nut oils or nut byproducts on the labels, they aren’t in the ingredients. In addition, we are working as quickly as possible to correct the information on our websites.
        Again, we appreciate you sharing your concern with us. The safety of you, our valued consumer, and your family is our top priority. We hope this confirmation alleviates your concerns for using our products around your son. We’d like to send you a coupon for $4 off your next purchase of Dawn so you can continue using our products with confidence. Please reply with your complete name and mailing address; once I receive that, look for my letter to arrive by postal mail within 2-3 weeks.
        We thank you for your loyalty to P&G and hope this will reinforce your trust in our brands!
        Supervisor, P&G Team

  3. Emily Roehner

    This is so confusing! Yes it does, no it doesn’t, no we don’t really know for sure, now it doesn’t. So what is it. The actual truth would be great! They’ve lost credibility with their actions. This doesn’t sit will with myself or all the other allergy families I know.

    • Tiffany

      We’ll continue to share what we’ve learned, Emily!

  4. Amy T.

    I called today two separate times and was told that there is no peanut oil. I don’t understand how so many other families were told yes a few days ago. Either it does or it doesn’t! Are they just covering their behind now? I’m thoroughly confused now. I’ve lost trust in the company.

    • Alayna Wetherhead

      Trust me! We are all just as confused as you are Amy! We are that some consistent, solid information will come from P&G sooner rather than later. And we will definitely continue to keep you updated. :)

  5. Kami A.

    Hi, I have spent the last several days digging out every known product I have and calling P & G and once they find out why I’m calling they put me on a very long hold and direct me to the fragrance site that lists the ingredients that “could be used” in a product. This article by scratch and sniff says P & G lists peanut oil on this list under fragrances but I didn’t find it! I even looked up different chemical names for peanut oil and found nothing! I called Febreeze, Dawn, Vicks, Cascade and even Vicks vapor pads which is marketed by KAZ under the P & G name. I told them my son has a peanut allergy and they all told me that the products don’t contain peanut or peanut derived ingredients! How could they tell me that knowing my son has an allergy to peanuts and that it could cause him harm and actually lie to me!!! That’s grounds for a law suit! I use all of these products!!!! I am conflicted!! Did they say that the peanut oil was there because they didn’t know what to say because there are a million and 1 ingredients under “fragrance” so they assumed and now that this article has come out since last Tuesday did they actually confirm peanut oil is not used!!! HELP!!!! Do I replace all these products or not! If this company is doing it are other companies?!? Any comments would be appreciated!!!! Kami A

    • Thanks for writing, Kami — and kudos to you for doing so much research! Peanut oil is listed on page 17 of their massive PDF file (http://www.pgproductsafety.com/productsafety/ingredients/Perfume_and_Scents.pdf) and we are still in talks with P&G reps, trying to find out the truth.

      We are hearing a lot of conflicting answers, and yes, it’s very frustrating! The trouble seems to be when they say their products *don’t* contain any peanut oil, and then they back-peddle to say the peanut oil has been so highly refined that the protein — what causes the allergy — is no longer present.

      Again, we are still looking into this issue and trying to get CONCRETE answers from P&G on what these products actually contain. Please check back in soon!

      • Richard Lowe

        FYI, as of now, January 25th, 2016, Peanut Oil is no longer listed in that document.

  6. Wouldn’t it be nice to have an independent lab available at our fingertips to test a sample of Dawn for presence of allergens?

    • Alayna Wetherhead

      Stephanie, we have all been saying that for a week! To bad we’re not independently wealthy. :)

  7. Jen

    Thanks for the heads-up…I have been using their products for years and are now going to take a break/stop until they sort this out…no way I’m taking a chance on my kid dying just to clean my floor…scary how cleaning solution could be an issue…I’m so paranoid of everything else, now this too? Thanks P&G! Argh

  8. First, thank you for doing such excellent detective work and getting the information out to the allergy community.

    Second, based on the wording of both statements, my gut reaction is that they initially went with the “may contain” wording to cover themselves legally without having to do any kind of diligence, as well as pepetuate the “proprietary information” nonsense that corporations use to avoid tranparency.

    Of course, when the allergy community, which is much larger than it was even a few years ago, got wind of it thanks to your diligence, it blew up in their face. Regardless of how this turns out, I love the fact that we as consumers are starting to have enough clout to change the behavior of a large corporation. Great job!

  9. viriato77

    Wouldn’t it be more informative to maybe research the fragrance industry, ask them the kind of nut oils are used, what the standard grades are? It doesn’t make intuitive sense to have an unrefined peanut oil as a carrier for a fragrance as it would interfere with the end product. Once you nail down the industry standards you can look into the safety research, which pretty much shows refined nut oils lacking allergenicity.

  10. Deb

    I find this information interesting and disconcerting. I have a severe peanut/tree nut allergy. We have been using Dawn for decades. Interestingly, I developed eczema about 7 years ago. About the same time I switched to always using dish soap to wash my hands due to the nut oils in so many hand soaps. I would bet there is a correlation and I guarantee we will be changing dish soaps. I have never reacted much to nuts on my hands, so it would make sense to be nut oils causing my eczema….along with our dry winter climate. It will be interesting to see if it stays away this winter without using dawn at all.

  11. Shana

    My son is anaphylactic to peanuts and tree nuts. He is 7. I have always used most of these products. I have never noticed a problem with him or them. He even helps me clean. I am now scared, but on the other hand I feel that…hey, I’ve been using them this long….

  12. Christina

    We’ve been using Dawn and Swiffer products since before my daughter was even born. She has pn/tn allergies and has never shown a problem (that I’ve realized, at least!) but now I no longer feel comfortable using these items. Have you had any further updates since September? I haven’t noticed anything on the labels since the last bottle of dish soap my husband bought.

    • Alayna Wetherhead

      Christina, there haven’t been any updates since their last response. Hopefully brands take their labeling more seriously!

  13. grace

    Any updates????

  14. Libby

    I have been having an on going allergic reaction for three years and had not been able to figure out what was in the different products that caused my hand to break out in hives…those products include dawn, febreeze, Pantene pro-v shampoo, and other p&g products… This has resulted in thousands of dollars of medication and doctors visits and when these articles came out it started to make since since I am allergic to certain tree nuts. I am also allergic to cinnamon but am very careful reading all labels to make sure there is no hexyl cinnamal in anything I buy. After this came out I removed all p&g products from our home and have had no allergic reactions… We even sprayed febreeze on my skin and I broke out in hives, before we took them all out of the house: So I am living proof there is some allergen in there that they are not telling us about.

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