Thursday, November 4, 2010

A close call with tomato paste

I was making homemade spaghetti and meat sauce last week, and I thought about adding a can of tomato paste to thicken it up. It turned out that I didn't need it, so I put the can back in the cabinet. I didn't plan on reading the label, because it was made by Contadina and I remembered reading the label at the store.

Thank God I didn't add it into the sauce - I read the label later and it turns out I bought Tomato Paste with Italian Herbs. Sounds harmless, right? I read the ingredients and it contained MILK!

Holy crap, that would have caused Rowan to have an anaphylactic reaction. We would have had to use the epi-pen and call 911. I must have bought a couple cans and grabbed that one by mistake?

This is such a great reminder that you need to read labels and ingredients EVERY TIME, even when you get home from the store.

Tomato Paste Ingredients: Tomatoes

Tomato Paste with Italian Herbs: Tomato Puree (Tomato Paste, Water), High Fructose Corn Syrup, Salt, Dried Onions, Partially Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil (Soybean And/Or Cottonseed), Spices, Hydrolyzed Corn Gluten, Soy & Wheat Gluten Proteins, Grated Romano Cheese Made From Cow's Milk (Cultured Milk, Salt, Enzymes), Garlic, Citric Acid, Yeast, Soy Flour. Contains Soybeans, Wheat, Milk.

All of this got me thinking about possible cross-contamination in the manufacturing process. I emailed Contadina to find out more, and you can read their response after the jump.

Dear Jen,

Thanks for visiting our Contadina website and for your email.

We have strict policies in place in each of our plants to eliminate the potential for cross-contamination. These include separate storage of ingredients, scheduling of production runs to avoid cross-contamination from one line to another, and specific government-mandated procedures for cleaning the production line before and after changeover to any variety containing known allergens.

We encourage consumers to check the product label ingredient statements to determine if any of the eight major allergens are present in the product. The eight major allergens include: tree nuts, peanuts, milk, eggs, fish, crustacean shellfish, soybeans and wheat.

I appreciate the opportunity to respond and hope this information is helpful.

Mike, Del Monte Consumer Affairs

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