Peanut Free Request

Business By Bean123 Updated 15 Jun 2012 , 6:43pm by BlakesCakes

Bean123 Posted 14 Jun 2012 , 12:26am
post #1 of 16

I was asked if I could guarantee a peanut free cake, since I can't I won't be doing the cake.
My husband seems to think guaranteeing peanut free should be easy. I disagree, but don't really know. How can I become a peanut free bake shop?

15 replies
lorieleann Posted 14 Jun 2012 , 12:44am
post #2 of 16

You need to make sure that you have no peanuts in your kitchen. never ever. None of your equipment can have ever come in contact with peanuts as well. as well as source your products from companies that can also guarantee a peanut free product and production facility. You know that disclaimer on items that says "made on equipment/in a facility/on equipment shared with peanuts"? that means that it is not fully peanut free or safe for those with the most severe of peanut allergies.

I think you did the right thing to turn down the order.

there are a few members here with allergy-baking backgrounds who can add more to the conversation i'm sure.

scp1127 Posted 14 Jun 2012 , 5:30am
post #3 of 16

I get those requests and I answer by saying that I can only make cakes for people with a very low intolerance, really just an irritation. I state that I do use all of the allery products in my kitchen.

This has worked out for me because the people who finally order are only slightly intolerant. For the others, I suggest a few great health food stores that have allery free mixes so that they can make it at home.

BlakesCakes Posted 14 Jun 2012 , 5:54am
post #4 of 16

I refuse these types of requests.

I bake from home and I can't guarantee no cross contamination. My ingredients may, or may not, contain traces of nuts, wheat, dairy, soy, etc. I can't go out and buy specialized ingredients that I may never use before they expire.

I also can't be responsible for a reaction of any type. If the allergic individual isn't overly concerned about their issue, I am.
These types of allergies are often cumulative, becoming worse with each exposure. The itchy throat that responded to benadryl the last time may require an ER visit this time.

I suggest that they call a local pediatrician or allergist and see if they're aware of any baker's who might help them.

Rae

coleslawcat Posted 14 Jun 2012 , 12:39pm
post #5 of 16

I would ask how severe the allergy is and what precautions they take at home. I would be sure to mention it would be made on shared equipment that has been washed, but not new equipment that has never come in contact. I have a friend with a peanut allergy I bake for all the time. She's fine as long as there are no actual peanuts or peanut butter. So I can just wash my pans and she'll have no trouble. They even keep peanut butter in their house for her husband. On the other hand there are lots of people are incredibly sensitive. I wouldn't be able to promise someone with a sensitive allergy I could do it, but I feel comfortable baking for my friend.

Norasmom Posted 14 Jun 2012 , 5:38pm
post #6 of 16

My kitchen is peanut-free. I have no peanut products whatsoever, nor do I have anything that has come into contact with peanuts. I email manufacturers of ingredients to make sure there are no traces of nuts. It's not difficult to be peanut-free. If you have baked with peanuts before, I suggest you sanitize all of your utensils. Anything wooden or plastic that has been exposed to peanut butter/peanut products should not be used. Stainless steel and glass are the best utensils.
Also, if the ingredients have been exposed to peanuts, the label will say "made in a factory that also produces peanuts." Most cake mixes have not been exposed to peanuts. Same with flour, salt, sugar, eggs, e.t.c.
Best of luck!

jason_kraft Posted 14 Jun 2012 , 6:34pm
post #7 of 16
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Originally Posted by Norasmom

My kitchen is peanut-free. I have no peanut products whatsoever, nor do I have anything that has come into contact with peanuts. I email manufacturers of ingredients to make sure there are no traces of nuts. It's not difficult to be peanut-free. If you have baked with peanuts before, I suggest you sanitize all of your utensils. Anything wooden or plastic that has been exposed to peanut butter/peanut products should not be used. Stainless steel and glass are the best utensils.



This.

I definitely wouldn't flat-out refuse to fill the order, if you can't guarantee the order would be free of a specific allergen tell the customer and let them decide for themselves. If you are worried about liability, add a clause in your contract disclaiming liability for allergic reactions (if you don't already have one).

BlakesCakes Posted 14 Jun 2012 , 7:16pm
post #8 of 16
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Originally Posted by jason_kraft

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Originally Posted by Norasmom

My kitchen is peanut-free. I have no peanut products whatsoever, nor do I have anything that has come into contact with peanuts. I email manufacturers of ingredients to make sure there are no traces of nuts. It's not difficult to be peanut-free. If you have baked with peanuts before, I suggest you sanitize all of your utensils. Anything wooden or plastic that has been exposed to peanut butter/peanut products should not be used. Stainless steel and glass are the best utensils.


This.

I definitely wouldn't flat-out refuse to fill the order, if you can't guarantee the order would be free of a specific allergen tell the customer and let them decide for themselves. If you are worried about liability, add a clause in your contract disclaiming liability for allergic reactions (if you don't already have one).




Well, I've said it before and I stand by it--there are allergen free bakers and bakeries for very, very good reasons. Not everyone can, or should, be everything to everyone.

If I really care about the issue of those allergies for a family member, or guest, then I want a guarantee about the item being allergen-free. A baker who doesn't bake allergen-free all of the time simply CANNOT & SHOULD NOT offer that guarantee.

I don't want to want to ASSUME THE RISK. Period. I have that right.
Others may be willing to assume the risk, and I consider that to be very foolish--as do my insurance company and my attorney.

A clause added to YOUR contract raises YOUR burden of proof should there be a legal issue.
You can shift that onus onto the customer by having THEM provide a waiver (that should be reviewed by your lawyer) that you both sign. Of course, that doesn't shield you from the legal costs should you have to defend yourself later....

Personally, I think that approaching someone other than a known allergen-free baker(y) for such a cake is very cavalier and unfair to the baker(y).

If people aren't concerned about protecting themselves, it doesn't mean I should be unconcerned about protecting myself from them.

This is an issue where "I'll try--I tried" just doesn't cut it. Paranoid? Yes. Ever SEE someone go into anaphylactic shock. I have.

Rae

jason_kraft Posted 14 Jun 2012 , 7:42pm
post #9 of 16
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Originally Posted by BlakesCakes

Well, I've said it before and I stand by it--there are allergen free bakers and bakeries for very, very good reasons. Not everyone can, or should, be everything to everyone.



Agreed.

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If I really care about the issue of those allergies for a family member, or guest, then I want a guarantee about the item being allergen-free.



That is your prerogative as a customer. Some customers are less sensitive and guarantees are not necessary. If you need a guarantee and the baker cannot provide one then you would choose a different baker, or continue with the order and avoid serving the product to the person with the allergy.


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A baker who doesn't bake allergen-free all of the time simply CANNOT & SHOULD NOT offer that guarantee.



Agreed, no one is suggesting they should be forced to do so.

I actually doubt any bakery would provide a guarantee, even if they specialize in allergy-friendly cakes. We don't provide a guarantee, since we can't control what happens once the cake leaves our possession. The best you can do is explain to the customer the steps you take to avoid cross-contamination, and the customer decides if those steps are good enough.

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Others may be willing to assume the risk, and I consider that to be very foolish--as do my insurance company and my attorney.



The insurance provider for my bakery (The Hartford) disagrees, since when I explained to them the nature of our business there was no change in the amount of our premium. If they had thought an allergy-friendly bakery was more risky they would have charged us more for coverage.

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A clause added to YOUR contract raises YOUR burden of proof should there be a legal issue.



What "burden of proof" are you referring to? A clause that says you are not responsible for allergic reactions and that the product may be cross-contaminated with allergens is relatively straightforward.

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You can shift that onus onto the customer by having THEM provide a waiver (that should be reviewed by your lawyer) that you both sign.



This is what I suggested, albeit in the form of an additional clause to the contract.

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Of course, that doesn't shield you from the legal costs should you have to defend yourself later....



You're right, that's what liability insurance is for. If you specifically disclaim liability for allergic reactions and someone sues you due to an allergic reaction, the case would be dismissed post-haste. Of course it would be difficult to find a lawyer who would file that lawsuit in the first place.

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Personally, I think that approaching someone other than a known allergen-free baker(y) for such a cake is very cavalier and unfair to the baker(y).



Again, it depends on how serious the allergy is. I don't see how it's unfair to the bakery when they can state that their products are contaminated with the allergen in question and that they cannot be held responsible for allergic reactions. The customer may order the cake anyway and just tell the people with food allergies not to eat it.

It's a pretty safe bet that people with severe food allergies have already had an opportunity to eat one of your cakes, which is why it's so important to have an allergy disclaimer in your contract anyway.

BlakesCakes Posted 14 Jun 2012 , 8:15pm
post #10 of 16

"This is what I suggested, albeit in the form of an additional clause to the contract."

You don't amend EVER your contract at the behest of a customer!!! That puts YOU on the hot seat if there's a problem. That is EXACTLY why you have the CLIENT produce the waiver--which still gives you the option to refuse to sign if you don't like the verbiage.

Liability insurance is NOT available so that you knowingly take on a liability.
It's a type of accident policy, really.

My husband is an anesthesiologist. If he goes out and does plastic surgery, his liability insurance WILL NOT cover him--either for his defense cost or for any award to a victim of his mistake/accident.

I accept that some people with allergies want to treat the allergy as "no big deal"--fine. But as I said in my first post, many allergies are cumulative. Subsequent exposures to even minor loads can eventually result in a full blown, life threatening event--and the allergic individual won't know until it happens.

I've experienced 2 events in my life that have left me extremely cautious when dealing with allergies:
An aunt who had no history of being allergic to bee stings--multiple stings in her lifetime with nothing other than a "normal" reaction. Stung in the garden (maybe 10 years after her last sting) and gets an itchy throat, watery eyes, rash. Doc says take some benadryl. Fine in an hour. Stung 5 years later, winds up in ER with much more severe reaction and lucky to be alive. She now carries an Epipen and no longer gardens.

A guest arrives at a girls-only wedding shower at my home. I had a long hair, light colored cat at the time--generally considered likely to be less allergenic than other cats. House is freshly cleaned. Cat is 2 floors away on the 3rd floor. The bride-to-be had told the woman about the cat--I, however, did NOT know that an allergic individual would be in attendance. Ten minutes into the shower, the woman is in obvious distress, struggling to breath. I ask her if she's allergic & to what. Yes, cat. Did you know about the cat? Yes. Did you take any meds before coming? No. Do you have anything you can take now? No, it's never been this bad before. She was in very bad shape by the time the ambulance arrived 7 minutes later............but with good care on the way to Yale/New Haven hospital, she made a full recovery.

Never, ever again.

Rae

jason_kraft Posted 14 Jun 2012 , 10:04pm
post #11 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by BlakesCakes

You don't amend EVER your contract at the behest of a customer!!! That puts YOU on the hot seat if there's a problem.



If the amendment makes sense to both you and your lawyer, I don't see what the problem is (obviously you wouldn't just amend it on the spot). In any case, I would recommend just adding the allergy disclaimer to your standard contract and not wait for a customer to ask.

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Liability insurance is NOT available so that you knowingly take on a liability.



That's exactly what it's there for. When you enter into a commercial food service enterprise, you knowingly take on additional liability, since a higher volume of food served means more chance something can go wrong. It does not cover things like fraud or malicious bad acts (e.g. adding rat poison to your cakes).

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My husband is an anesthesiologist. If he goes out and does plastic surgery, his liability insurance WILL NOT cover him--either for his defense cost or for any award to a victim of his mistake/accident.



Makes sense, since he is not a plastic surgeon. Not sure how this applies here.

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Subsequent exposures to even minor loads can eventually result in a full blown, life threatening event--and the allergic individual won't know until it happens.



That's exactly why it's so important to have an allergy disclaimer in your standard contract, since you have no idea when someone will have an allergic reaction and blame you for it.

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I've experienced 2 events in my life that have left me extremely cautious when dealing with allergies:



Environmental allergies are a different story -- either they are unavoidable (bee stings) or they can be at least partially addressed by leaving the area (cat allergies). People with food allergies are generally much more prepared and can recognize/avoid exposure.

BlakesCakes Posted 14 Jun 2012 , 11:19pm
post #12 of 16

I know that you LOVE being argumentative, but really.....

You are wrong to say that liability insurance is for the purpose of taking on specific, known liabilities for which you are a generally not set up to handle. It's not "risk taking insurance".
Liability policies aren't blankets that cover you no matter what error you make. They're underwritten so that the company can walk away if they believe what you did was outside the parameters of the policy--especially if you did it with knowledge & forethought.

The example I provided of my DH is exactly on target because it shows how someone who is not specifically set up/trained to do something, and who chooses to do it KNOWING that they're not set up/trained to do it, HAS NO VALID CLAIM ON THEIR LIABILITY POLICY.

You simply don't get the fact the creator of a contract, waiver, or disclaimer is held to a higher standard than the signer of that document. A disclaimer saying that I'm not liable for allergic reactions looks fine on paper--to you--but I'd be wide open if I KNOW that I cannot GUARANTEE an allergen free cake and I do it anyway.

Even a mediocre attorney would have a field day working me over about what I did & didn't do in order to produce a guaranteed allergen free cake.

I have a broad disclaimer saying that I will not make anything that needs to meet special dietary needs and that all of my goods may contain, or come into contact with, a variety of food allergens, including, but not limited to nuts, soy, whey, and dairy. I stand by it and I don't amend it on a case by case basis.

You seem to think that because you're a food allergic person you can speak for ALL food allergic people. You cant.
You may understand what works for you, what risk load you're willing to accept. Just because YOU are willing to say, "I'll take my chances." at the moment, doesn't mean that I'm content to have you take that chance with my goods.

You may be fine with a side trip to the ER because you tested your limits, but what if your wife (or estate) isn't???? Legal actions aren't free to the wrongly accused.

I will always advise anyone who doesn't have the special skill set for allergen free cakes, and/or the specially prepped kitchen, recipes, equipment, etc., to have a warning disclaimer AND to PASS on any orders where an allergy/sensitivity is mentioned.

CYOA.
Rae

jason_kraft Posted 14 Jun 2012 , 11:36pm
post #13 of 16
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Originally Posted by BlakesCakes

You are wrong to say that liability insurance is for the purpose of taking on specific, known liabilities for which you are a generally not set up to handle.



I did not say the part in bold. Without the bold section, the definition of liability insurance above is correct.

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Liability policies aren't blankets that cover you no matter what error you make. They're underwritten so that the company can walk away if they believe what you did was outside the parameters of the policy--especially if you did it with knowledge & forethought.



The insurance company we use did not think allergy-friendly baking was different enough from regular baking to be considering outside the parameters of the policy or even worth increasing the premium for. Other insurance companies may differ.

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A disclaimer saying that I'm not liable for allergic reactions looks fine on paper--to you--but I'd be wide open if I KNOW that I cannot GUARANTEE an allergen free cake and I do it anyway.



Which is why I said that you should not make any guarantees that a cake will be allergen-free, even if you specialize in making allergy-free cakes.

I agree that it's not a good idea to guarantee something to be true and then disclaim liability if it's not true, but no one is saying to do that.

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You seem to think that because you're a food allergic person you can speak for ALL food allergic people.



I never made such a claim. I'm speaking to my own experience, and I have repeatedly advocated allowing the customer to determine their own risk tolerance, since everyone will have a different threshold. Customers are adults and are responsible for their own actions. They don't need a baker making decisions about their allergy tolerance for them, especially when said baker disclaims liability and (apparently this bears repeating) does not guarantee allergen-free products.

Please read my posts a little more carefully before you respond next time.

I apologize to the forum for this continued back-and-forth, but I don't feel it's right to let a post stand that attributes words to someone else they did not say.

coleslawcat Posted 14 Jun 2012 , 11:52pm
post #14 of 16

As someone with both food allergies and celiac disease, it is incredibly frustrating when we are treated as if we're incapable of determining our own risk. If everyone had the attitude that they won't serve someone with food allergies then I could never get a meal out. Fortunately, many restaurants want to accomodate this allergy market and make an effort to provide safe food if I make my needs clear. Yes, there is more risk when eating out of the home, but that is risk that people choose to take. If you are completely upfront about your ability to accomodate and outline the risk than the customer should be able to make the decision themselves. Obviously, everyone doesn't have to agree to do it, but believe me when I tell you the allergy free/gluten free community appreciates it when people do make the effort.

costumeczar Posted 15 Jun 2012 , 12:02am
post #15 of 16

I ask people exactly what their allergy is, what level of reaction they have, then tell them what I can accomodate and what I can't and let them make the decision. If someone says that they have celiac disease or a severe peanut allergy I usually tell them that I'm not comfortable with that severe a condition and I'd refer them to someone else.

BlakesCakes Posted 15 Jun 2012 , 6:43pm
post #16 of 16

I apologize to for the forum for even bothering.

Jason, I read your posts carefully and I don't attribute words to you which you did not say.
Nothing that you pointed out was incorrectly put in quotations or in a quote box and attributed to you.

I may, however, interpret what you say in a way that is different from how you intended it, or by using my own experiences as a reference--and that's my prerogative.

If you can't allow readers to determine, for themselves, what they've read & how they choose to use that information, well.............so be it.

Perhaps one difference is that when I say I will do something, I feel that I AM giving a guarantee--implied, but still a guarantee. The customer is then relying on that implied guarantee. Implied guarantees can be brought up in legal proceedings.

Rae

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