Why Everyone Needs to Know About #CuminGate

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Over the weekend, I read this report from The Independent (U.K.) digging deeply into the source of the cumin recall, which is now reported to be the most “‘widespread series of allergy-related recalls’ in allergy labeling history in the U.S.,” according to Inquisitr.

At this point, only peanuts are suspected in the cumin recall for the U.S., but the U.K. has seen traces of peanuts and almonds in their cumin.

I can’t stress how important this is for all of us to know. Not just we who live with food allergies every day; it’s important for restaurant owners, managers and servers, teachers, school nurses, friends who feed allergic individuals, office workers, and the list goes on.

Why Everyone Needs to Know About #CuminGate: cumin recallWhy is this so urgent? Why so important? Because cumin is everywhere. See, it’s not just a spice in your cupboard (but if it is, please keep this regularly updated comprehensive list of recalls bookmarked), it is a spice found in many of our prepared foods. And, because of the way our country’s labeling law (FALCPA) is structured, there is no requirement to list specific spices out on each food label.

This means that every time I open anything that has the word “spices” listed on it, I could be serving my son something with tainted cumin (read: peanuts) in it and not know it. As you can imagine, we’ve moved even further away from eating processed foods as this recall has grown.

This recall has left all of us in the allergic world reeling, a little breathless. We make most of our food from scratch for safety reasons. So, when the building blocks we use to create our own safe foods are recalled in this way, our homes don’t feel quite like the safe zone we have worked so hard to create.

We are on high alert these days. Even more ready to administer the Auvi-Q™ and dial 911 at the first sign of a reaction.

This is important stuff. With reactions already having been reported to the FDA in the midst of the recall, it is my hope that everyone would notch up their awareness just a little bit when they are with someone they know has peanut allergies. A recall this big won’t be solved overnight, so we will have to work together to ensure safety for those vulnerable to microscopic amounts of peanut protein.

So, is it a scandal as The Independent determined by the title of their article? I guess only time will tell. But my gut says that there is no way a substitution this large could happen by accident. I believe someone made a determination that puts millions of lives at risk, without thinking through what could happen to those allergic.

I truly hope the investigators get to the bottom of this and restore our food supply (if not our trust in the food supply) quickly. Millions of us are counting on it.

If you feel you may have experienced a reaction related to this cumin recall, please report it to the FDA immediately.

Tiffany Self

Tiffany Self is a wife, mom to "Z", and a lover of words. In an ironic twist, she is an English class dropout who now writes for a living. Tiffany is a freelancer in the Chicago suburbs by way of Seattle and Southern Oregon. She writes about her journey of parenting a child with multiple severe food allergies, asthma, and environmental allergies. You can follow her on Twitter or Instagram.

3 Comments to Why Everyone Needs to Know About #CuminGate

  1. Tracy

    Here’s how to solve this problem, which seems to occur with alarming frequency. The FDA needs to issue an injunction prohibiting the sale of each and every package of each and every product tainted by the contaminated cumin. Right now there is zero incentive for manufacturers to put guidelines in place to prevent this (ie testing each batch for allergens BEFORE it leaves the manufacturing plant.) Because the FDA – for whatever reason – inadequate funding, lobbying by food manufacturers, simple apathy or failure to keep up with the increasing prevalence of food allergies – does not come down hard on the food manufacturers, they aren’t going to change a thing except issue recalls after the fact (which is basically all that the FDA requires.) Unless and until it affects manufacturers’ bottom line – profits – nothing will change. Making them dump each and every contaminated product at a loss of millions would get manufacturers to do what they should be doing in the first place. Too bad the FDA won’t do a thing.

    • Tiffany Self

      Thanks for your response, Tracy. I agree with you. Bottom line trumps all. I’m also saddened at how the U.K. (both media and their version of the FDA) seem to be taking this much more seriously than those in the U.S.–which is exactly why I wrote this post hoping to inform those that don’t easily see this information.

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