Why Do We Test for Allergens and Gluten?

Every year people are rushed to the hospital with allergic reactions to food, like peanuts or dairy. Sometimes, they don’t even know they have a food allergy or had no idea their allergy could be life-threatening. Not all these reactions are due to packaged foods, but the companies making packaged foods need to do their part to protect their customers better and decrease this hospitalization rate.

Gluten sensitive people and celiacs are also exposed to unnecessary levels of gluten that can lead to severe symptoms that can last for many days after exposure. The FDA allows companies to label their products “gluten free” if they have up to 20PPM of known gluten cross contact. For some, this threshold is too high and so they cannot rely on products labelled gluten free to be safe for them to eat. Also, companies are only required to periodically check, so cross contact is often not discovered until many consumers contact the company with complaints about a particular product.

We think the standard for food safety has to change to reflect the reality that cross contamination can happen at any time, anywhere from field to factory, and it has to take advantage of testing capability and packaging technology. Currently, most companies rely on voluntarily spot testing ingredients every few months or relying on the legal proxy of having a dedicated facility to measure allergy safety. The problem with this proxy is that most contamination comes in mixed into other allergy friendly ingredients you purchase. For example, a bag of pumpkin seeds might have wheat grains scattered in it.

We aim to lead a sea-change in our industry by setting this new gold standard in allergen and gluten safety: we test every batch of our products for cross contact, and make the results available to the consumer in real time by linking the results to the QR Code (“Z-Code”) on every ZEGO package. But we don’t stop there, we encourage consumers to ask other companies to use this new safety gold standard. Working together, we can decrease the number of food allergy reactions to packaged food. And, as we work with our suppliers to trace down cross contact, we will in turn do our part to clean the entire food chain.

The Center for Disease Control reports that hospitalizations for food allergy reactions increased 265% in its most recent study.