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Haribo Gummies and Question

My son had a mild reaction last night after eating Haribo Gummies. He has a tree nut allergy and has never had a reaction to these before. The ingredient list is pretty small. I cannot understand why he would have a reaction. Has anyone else experienced this? 

Ingredients: Corn syrup, sugar, gelatin, dextrose, less than 2% of citric acid, artificial and natural flavors, palm oil, carnauba wax, white beeswax, yellow beeswax, yellow 5, red 40, blue 1. 

Thank you, Heather

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  • K8sMom2002

    Hugs, Heather! How's he doing now? Did you need to give him epinephrine? Had he eaten anything else within the past hour before the gummies?

    On AAFA's food allergy division, Kids With Food Allergies, it gives you awesome information about .

  • HeatherKarpinsky

    Hi Cynthia,

    Thank you, it was scary and very unexpected. He is back to normal now. He had his normal grilled cheese for dinner at 5:30PM last night and a couple gummies around 6:30PM. Then around 7:30PM he said his mouth and throat were getting itchy. He started coughing (his allergic cough…the same cough he gets after eating tree nuts). I gave him Benadryl right away and a breathing treatment. Around 9:00PM he started feeling better. He did not need his epi-pen. We were at home as well the entire time and have a nut free house. I thought everything he ate was safe. I am not sure what went wrong. Thank you for sending me that information. 

    Best, Heather

  • Deborah Bartlett

    Hi! Could it be possible that the gummies are manufactured/packaged in a facility that uses what your child has problems with? Just a thought. 

  • HeatherKarpinsky

    Hi Deborah, It does not say it was manufactured / packaged in a facility that uses tree nuts. We avoid everything that has a risk of tree nut exposure. The package says Manufactured for Haribo of America / Made in Brazil. 

  • Deborah Bartlett

    Hi Heather. I suppose this will take some detective work. It will be good to find the cause to prevent the same problem from happening again. 

  • Melissa G

    Wow, that had to be scary Heather!  Did you call and check in with the allergist? Glad to hear he is doing better today. 

  • K8sMom2002

    what Deborah said — it will take some detective work. I'm glad he's feeling better!

    I've heard good things about Haribo, but their web page doesn't say anything about may contains or shared equipment. Of course, labeling for "may contains" or "shared equipment is strictly voluntary. I learned a lot about that with KFA's .

    Were the bread and cheese and butter/margarine open packs that you guys had used before? Or were they new? I've found that sometimes a company can change its manufacturing processes or ingredients in the span of a week — and without changing the packaging. 

  • Shea

    I have heard of people being allergic to food dyes (especially red and some yellow).

    I myself have had reaction to foods high in sulfites, once that required epipen and benadryl, another time was severe asthma attack. 

    There is some info here: 

  • HeatherKarpinsky

    Thank you so much for sharing all this information. The bread and cheese are the normal bread and cheese he eats everyday. It was not new and had been used for a couple days before. They were all open. I am not sure what happened. My son is 6 years old. He thinks it was the Rattle-snake Gummies. His stomach hurt all day and night too after eating them he said. He ate the Haribo Bears yesterday and was fine. I contacted the company and asked if it was a shared facility, but I haven't heard back yet. I will keep a look out for products with red dye 40 and that are high in sulfites. He could have that allergy. I am not sure. 

  • K8sMom2002

    Heather, good to know you haven't lost a favorite bread or cheese to a product change! 

    And what a wise and insightful son you have to narrow it down to one particular type of gummies. I'm hoping you'll get some information quickly from Haribo. 

    Do you still have the package and/or any of the rattlesnake gummies left over? If you do, you could contact the . They may be able to analyze the gummies for you.

  • HeatherKarpinsky

    Thank you! I am so glad we did not lose his favorite bread or cheese as well. He has had food allergies all his life and has become a professional. Someone gave him egg nog at Christmas and he took one tiny sip and said I am going to be allergic to this. About an hour later he had a reaction because it had nutmeg in it. Luckily he only had a tiny little taste. 

    We still have a lot of gummies left from the bag we purchased. My husband, Gavin's twin brother, and I also tasted the Gummies. They do taste different than the bears and other products for some reason. I will look into testing. Haribo said the QA manager in Brazil is looking into it and they might want to test the gummies. 

  • HeatherKarpinsky

    I just heard back from Haribo and I am so upset:

    Dear Heather, 
    Thank you for reaching out and for your question. Ensuring our consumers’ safety is our top priority, and part of that safety is continuously testing our products for allergens. We are happy to tell you that HARIBO products do not contain peanuts or tree nuts. However, some of our facilities manufacture products that contain coconut which is classified as an allergen in the United States. We encourage all consumers to read all ingredient labels carefully before consumption. We consistently update our packaging including allergen information when we have production changes.
    Thank you again for contacting us; please don’t hesitate to reach out to our Consumer Care team if you have any further questions.You can also find more information about HARIBO and our products at
     
    Coconut is a Tree Nut and it was not labelled. I find this so upsetting.
    I appreciate everyone's help and advice. Best, Heather
  • Melissa G

    Heather, 

    Here is a resource from (A division of AAFA),

    *Coconut

    The FDA lists coconut as a tree nut. In fact, coconut is a seed of a drupaceous fruit. Most people allergic to tree nuts can safely eat coconut. Coconut allergy is reasonably rare. If you are allergic to tree nuts, talk to your allergist before adding coconut to or eliminating coconut from your diet. 

    Have you been advised by his allergist to avoid coconut?

  • HeatherKarpinsky

    Hi Melissa, Thank you for sharing that information. Yes, Gavin is allergic to coconut. I did not realize that having a coconut allergy is rare or separate from a tree nut allergy. We discovered his tree nut allergy after he ate cookies with coconut. He has never eaten a tree nut, but tested positive for tree nuts during his allergy test. Thank you, Heather

  • Kathy P

    Heather – coconut does get really confusing. It is not botanically related to any of the other tree nuts and allergists don't consider it a tree nut. Unfortunately, when the FDA put the rules in place for labeling, it was decided that coconut was going to be labeled as a tree nut. Tree nuts do have to be declared including the specific species (i.e. almond, pecan, coconut).

    From the company response, it sounds like the product does not contain coconut, but there is coconut in the facility. This is another labeling nuance that can get very confusing. Advisory labeling such as shared lines or facilities are not mandatory and the wording is not regulated by the FDA. As long as GMP (good manufacturing practices) are in place to minimize cross-contact, then it does not have to be declared on the label.

    Since your son did potentially have a reaction, the product may contain one of his allergens that is not declared on the label. Here is a good article about  This includes the FAARP testing Cynthia mentioned as well as how to contact the regulatory agency (FDA or USDA) for that food product.

  • HeatherKarpinsky

    Hi Melissa,

    Thank you so much for asking about my son. He is doing well. Living with food allergies is not easy.

    I wish a list was available of all the products that do not list all their possible ingredients. Is there a list? I hate that his reactions are from something I gave him that was labelled as a safe food. Is there a way we could track products like this on this website?

    Best, Heather

  • Melissa G

    Heather, I wish there was, but there isn't. Manufacturing practices change so much that it would be difficult to keep a list like that up to date. 

    Yes, living with food allergies is difficult. When my kids were younger, I spent countless hours calling different manufacturers asking about their manufacturing practices. We then found companies we felt comfortable with and mainly have bought foods manufactured by them. 

    If there are certain foods you would like to find for him, let us know and we can try to help you find them. 

  • HeatherKarpinsky

    Hi Melissa, 

    I understand that manufacturing practices change, but as a consumer I have a right to know what is in the food I am purchasing. We should not be surprised by coconut or tree nuts when they are not listed in the ingredients. I think companies should be held responsible and I am going to complain to the FDA.

    Would anyone like to work with me? 

    I need to try to better protect my son. 

    Best, Heather

  • Melissa G

    The labeling laws, , are not perfect that is for sure. 

    What I find most difficult is the may contain or manufactured in facility warnings. Some companies use them and some don't and they are not required. 

    For instance generic powdered drink mix, why would they be processed with nuts?! But to err on the side of caution, we don't use them. 

    Labeling for medication would also be nice. My youngest only has three safe foods. Natural flavoring gets us every time. 

  • HeatherKarpinsky

    I agree. The labeling laws need to change and we need to give them a reason to change. Would you please work with me to try to change them? You are an expert and it would be an honor to work with you and other moms.

    Maybe if we threaten a class action lawsuit – the process will change. My son has had several allergic reactions from foods that were labelled safe and every time I contact the manufacturer they say "Oh, that product probably contained coconut or tree nuts. We have had other complaints as well. We will send you a coupon."

    That cannot continue. 

    Thank you for sharing that information about your youngest and responding to all my messages. Being a Food Allergy Mom is very stressful and I appreciate your kindness.

    I would love to brainstorm some ideas with you to improve the labeling process. 

    Best, Heather

  • Melissa G

    I want to encourage you, as bad as things seem, labels have come a long way. 

    When my kids were diagnosed back in 2004, there were no labeling laws. Labels did not have to be clearly marked. I would spend hours in the grocery store reading labels and calling manufacturers. Yep, I would call them while I was at the store. I would have to carry cards in my wallet with all of the names of the derivates of the foods my kids were allergic to. It was a daunting task. 

    When FALCPA went into effect, I was so excited! The time spending at the grocery store and reading labels was drastically decreased.