Nicole Ciuppa, RDN
False Marketing Rant [Beanfields Snacks]
Today's post is about false marketing of allergy products.
Within my nineteen years of having severe food allergies, I have come across a fair share of false marketing and advertising of "allergy free/friendly" food products. Large corporations and privately owned family companies function very differently and are regulated in completely separate ways.
I was informed about a new company called Beanfields which makes bean and rice based chips offered in about ten different flavors. I thought this was an awesome concept and decided to check out their website and some of their products. While perusing the website, I first clicked on the nutrition facts of the chips and was delighted to see that the foods I am allergic to were not used to make these chips. Next, I clicked over to check out Beanfields' mission statement and history.
Here's what I found:
Beanfields also states:
We tend to get passionate about the same local causes as our customers and retailers do. Groups that center on health issues like celiac disease,...
All of this new information made me excited to head to the store and try these seemingly to-good-to-be-true chips! Let's fast forward to my trip to the grocery store. I picked up a bag of these chips and read the ingredients once more before purchasing them just to be sure they were safe for me. To my surprise, all of the Beanfields chip flavors have a Allergen Info Statement on the bottom of the ingredients list.
Did we not just see that they claim to be allergy friendly?
What is even more confusing is there is no "may contain" "shared equipment" or "allergen info statement" ANYWHERE on their website. It makes me think that they are trying to trick their consumers or that Beanfields does not really want to target their consumers with food allergies but only those consumers who want to be trendy and eat plant-based because "being vegan is the hottest food trend". It is perfectly okay if this is, in fact, true, however, false advertising is not okay. It is confusing, misleading, and disappointing for a large portion of consumers. Labeling a product as allergy friendly and not following through does not build a good relationship between your company and it's buyers.
If someone is allergic to a food, they cannot come in contact with that food. This means that even the slightest cross contamination can lead to a potential allergic reaction. Beanfields, if your products contain allergens of any kind, they cannot be allergy friendly. Your customers with food allergies would not be able to eat them due to cross contamination.
I contacted Beanfields and spoke with Kyle, a Sales Assistant. Here is what was said:
I completely understand that this is a small company and they do not have the ability to separately manufacture their products. As I mentioned earlier, my problem lies within the marketing of this product. Beanfields could target a whole market of food allergy consumers if this product was, in fact, "allergy free".
"What do you think of all of this? I'd love to hear your thoughts!"
- Nicole xo