What Do You Do About Customers With Peanut Allergy?

Business By madras650 Updated 17 Aug 2010 , 4:44am by Annabakescakes

madras650 Posted 3 Aug 2010 , 3:45pm
post #1 of 26

I have a small home business, Customer wants 12 cupcakes, but one person has a peanut allergy. I bake from scratch and do not have any peanuts in house. Should I do it, or is it to much liability?

What are your thoughts on this subject?

Thanks

25 replies
jason_kraft Posted 3 Aug 2010 , 4:00pm
post #2 of 26

If you don't use peanuts, and you confirm that none of your ingredients are manufactured on shared equipment with other products containing peanuts, go for it.

I'm assuming you already have liability insurance to protect your assets in case something goes wrong beyond your control.

KatsSuiteCakes Posted 3 Aug 2010 , 4:06pm
post #3 of 26

I can't comment on the liability issue, but my grand-son also has a severe peanut allergy. I bake from scratch as well as boxed mixes, and he has never had an issue with anything from my kitchen. It can be a bit nerve wracking, but just read labels while making sure that your ingredients don't contain peanut oil, etc. Baking from scratch I believe, eliminates the possibility of providing a product that may have come from a facility where peanuts are used. A lot of labels indicate that there are nuts or peanuts processed in their plant. You may want to let them know exactly what your ingredient list is, and get an okay before proceeding. I just did a smash cake for a 1 year old with a dairy allergy, and I just simply communicated the exact ingredients I used in the cake. Good Luck!

TexasSugar Posted 3 Aug 2010 , 4:09pm
post #4 of 26

Personally I wouldn't but that is because I do have nut products in my house, have made peanut butter cookie dough in my mixer and so on.

It isn't just about having the actual nuts in your house though. It is about products that have been processed in places that may also process nuts.

Loucinda Posted 3 Aug 2010 , 6:03pm
post #5 of 26

I flat refuse to do any cakes for anyone with allergy issues. Period. No chances of any problems on my end that way. I tell them sorry, they have to find another baker.

indydebi Posted 3 Aug 2010 , 6:54pm
post #6 of 26

Unless I can guarantee that every surface,, every ingredient, every supplier that I deal with is nut-free, then I'd send them to someone else.

kansaslaura Posted 3 Aug 2010 , 7:08pm
post #7 of 26

IMHO--in the words of Alton Brown... "Walk away, just walk away" Not me, thanks. People are way too litigious today.

CanadianCakeDiva Posted 3 Aug 2010 , 7:19pm
post #8 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by indydebi

Unless I can guarantee that every surface,, every ingredient, every supplier that I deal with is nut-free, then I'd send them to someone else.




This. It is too much reliability, IMO, to guarentee peanut free when I cant guarentee that everything that has touched the surfaces havnt come into contact with nuts.

If you feel confident that you an guarentee that, then go for it.

jillmakescakes Posted 3 Aug 2010 , 7:41pm
post #9 of 26

I'm with Debi (shocker, right icon_biggrin.gif ). I tell them that since I cannot guarantee no cross-contamination, I'm just not the baker for them. I tell them that I would hate to be responsible for a poor little kids face puffing up (or worse!).

1456 Posted 3 Aug 2010 , 7:48pm
post #10 of 26

hi , As person with a extreme peanut allergy , i will give you this advice , alot of things have traces or processed in the same factory. so be sure to read very carefully and try and use ingridents from canadian or american factory and not any overseas because the labeling laws are differnt.so if you do decide to do this wash all your counters and cooking utensil in hot soapy water then dunk in watered down bleach , ( i don't recomend any wood utensils as they can absorb things, ) as well as mentioned before read all labels , watch for things that have palm oil in them as well because for some reason some people with the peanut allergy react to it the same way . be sure to go over any products with the family they will have a better ideas as well as products that are safe because they are aware of whats is out there . good luck melissa

all4cake Posted 3 Aug 2010 , 8:08pm
post #11 of 26

I don't cater to any allergies or diet. I mean no offense to anyone suffering with them. I inform...after that, it's up to them whether they wish to order or not.

step0nmi Posted 3 Aug 2010 , 8:20pm
post #12 of 26

hmmmm...only 12 cupcakes icon_confused.gif my one batch makes 24...sorry to be the devils advocate but do you really want a customer that only wants half a batch AND has one child with a nut allergy?

most people that have nut allergies already know what to watch out for. but I would advise the customer that they should provide a different dessert for that child and speak with the mother about it. You can't be too sure when it comes to nut allergies because you don't know how severe it is.

FH_Cakes Posted 4 Aug 2010 , 2:05am
post #13 of 26

I specialize in Peanut Free, Gluten-Free, Dairy Free and Vegan. The process is like this:

Verify ALL ingredients are allergen free (read every little ingredient and label) Most sprinkles are not safe!

Sanatize Everything! Counters, Cupboards, Utensils, Mixer, Bowels...You get the idea.

If you are not comfortable, then say no. My son was diagnosed with Peanut Allergy when he was 2, this is how I got started in cake decorating. I wanted to offer allergen free cakes to people like me/my son. Good luck, I am sure you will make the right choice icon_wink.gif

kansaslaura Posted 4 Aug 2010 , 3:03am
post #14 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by FH_Cakes

I specialize in Peanut Free, Gluten-Free, Dairy Free and Vegan. The process is like this:

Verify ALL ingredients are allergen free (read every little ingredient and label) Most sprinkles are not safe!

Sanatize Everything! Counters, Cupboards, Utensils, Mixer, Bowels...You get the idea.

If you are not comfortable, then say no. My son was diagnosed with Peanut Allergy when he was 2, this is how I got started in cake decorating. I wanted to offer allergen free cakes to people like me/my son. Good luck, I am sure you will make the right choice icon_wink.gif




What a great way to turn a problem into a positive! I applaude you! Not only are you doing this for your son, but for many other people who otherwise would not be able to enjoy favorite treats without worry. thumbs_up.gif

Loucinda Posted 4 Aug 2010 , 3:31am
post #15 of 26

There is a bakery close to me that advertises gluten free stuff all over the place, and I KNOW she does not clean properly to keep cross contamination from her "regular" baking. It drives me crazy that someone may have a serious reaction to her carelessness.

Steph2325 Posted 5 Aug 2010 , 2:03am
post #16 of 26

Personally, I wouldn't do it unless you specialize in baking for those with food allergies, since there is an entire scope of issues you need to worry about, not just whether or not there are peanuts in your house.

Stephanie

www.BlueEggBakery.wordpress.com

-Tubbs Posted 5 Aug 2010 , 3:26pm
post #17 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by FH_Cakes

Sanatize Everything! ...Bowels...You get the idea.



I am also nut-free, but not quite as thorough as you!! icon_lol.gif (sorry, couldn't resist)

My equipment and utensils have never had nuts or nut products in them. I check labels for everything. I tell anxious mums who call that I check the same labels as they do for "may contain traces..", "processed on the same equipment as.." warnings, and then it's up to them whether they proceed with a booking. I have several clients who make a special trip to me for cakes and cookies because they believe me to be safe for their child. I enjoy providing this service.

all4cake Posted 5 Aug 2010 , 3:30pm
post #18 of 26

LOL!!!

Steph2325 Posted 5 Aug 2010 , 3:56pm
post #19 of 26

So sorry if I sounded short in my response...not intended, I swear! icon_biggrin.gif

I have regular bakers in my area that do gluten-free cakes and I just don't see how they can do it without cross-contamination...very risky! Eat at your own risk, I suppose!

I have nightmares about mixing up orders for people with severe food allergies.

jason_kraft Posted 5 Aug 2010 , 4:17pm
post #20 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Steph2325

I have regular bakers in my area that do gluten-free cakes and I just don't see how they can do it without cross-contamination...very risky! Eat at your own risk, I suppose!

I have nightmares about mixing up orders for people with severe food allergies.



It's not as difficult as it sounds. We group our orders by allergies, working from the most allergies to the fewest, and we make sure we don't work with GF and non-GF orders at the same time. Of course all the equipment and surfaces are cleaned and sanitized between uses...but that's something every bakery should be doing anyway.

The hardest part is probably working with your suppliers to make sure they are allergy-friendly as well, but these days most manufacturers are very aware of cross-contamination issues, and some even have food allergy specialists you can talk to.

HPChick33 Posted 5 Aug 2010 , 4:33pm
post #21 of 26

My boss has two kids who are severely allergic to peanuts. One one-hundreths of a peanut could kill them. For this reason, she can onl buy them goodies from one bakery. Where I live, you have to be completely nut-free or not because even the smallest amount could cause a reaction.

I'd politely decline icon_smile.gif .

karateka Posted 5 Aug 2010 , 5:01pm
post #22 of 26

I have a client whose son is allergic to peanuts and eggs. I told her when she asked that my bakery has allergens in it, and I can't guarantee the utter absence of those allergens.

I explained that I would be willing to bake without them, and I would of course, sanitize everything that would touch the cake, etc. But I included a clause in her contract stating that she's aware that I do not guarantee an absence of those allergens, though I will exercise due diligence to avoid them.

She has ordered from me 3 times, and there has not been a problem. However, you would have to make it abundantly clear in writing that there is a risk involved and that she is willing to take it and indemnify you, or I would decline.

madras650 Posted 12 Aug 2010 , 11:34pm
post #23 of 26

I was the one who originally posted this question. I did, very politely, decline. We were communicating via email, so I wrote her this very nice letter and explained the situation as nicely as possible.

She wrote back,very mean and said that I obviously don't bake by scratch. She ended her letter with thanks, but no thanks.

I couldn't believe that she was so mean. I was very honest and nice. Why are people so evil?

jason_kraft Posted 13 Aug 2010 , 12:21am
post #24 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by madras650

I couldn't believe that she was so mean. I was very honest and nice. Why are people so evil?



Speaking as someone with a life threatening peanut allergy (and allergies to tree nuts and eggs), she was probably just frustrated. It's actually pretty easy to accommodate people with food allergies, especially for small-batch bakers, but the vast majority of commercial bakeries are either unwilling or unable to prevent cross-contamination.

If you were concerned about liability, a contract indemnifying you from risk would have solved that problem. I know you didn't mean it that way, but when you refuse to serve someone (even politely) it can sometimes be taken personally. This is especially true when communicating via email, since without non-verbal cues it's easier to misread the emotional character of the message.

pixiefuncakes Posted 13 Aug 2010 , 12:41am
post #25 of 26

Madras 650, it sounds like you dodged a bullet, if that is how she reacted to a polite letter. YOU did the right thing by her, so shake it off and hold your head high!
Maybe knowing that she won't have any of your yummy cakes made her cranky. LOL

Annabakescakes Posted 17 Aug 2010 , 4:44am
post #26 of 26

I recently did a cake for the mother of a little boy with a severe peanut allergy (it was his 5th birthday cake). I read all my labels and looked at several places online for instructions on how to prepare, to see if it was even possible, and learned that I could wash everything thoroughly with a new sponge, don't use wooden utensils and sanitize. I told her I made peanut butter sandwiches DAILY and that I would follow all procedures carefully once it was time to do her cake, but I could make no guarantees. I was a nervous wreck and basically poured straight bleach on EVERYTHING after I washed it with the fresh sponge I had been guarding with my life the 4 days I had it before I used it!

Turned out great! She was so happy, he was so happy, and she never batted an eye at my prices, which made me happy!

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