I purchased several 1.5 ounce Wonka Laffy Taffy cherry flavored bars (UPC Code 790014336) produced by the Nestle Company for my nephew Connor. Connor has severe food allergies and Wonka Laffy Taffy is one of the few foods he can eat without risk of a severe allergic reaction. Normally, we get the Laffy Taffy during Halloween, and the Laffy Taffy comes in small bite size versions which people are handing out to kids. Connor really enjoys these and they are always a treat to him. But, before I gave Connor the Laffy Taffy, I asked his mother if this candy was okay for him to eat. Alisa, recognizing the packaging, said yes that Connor can eat the Laffy Taffy without a problem.
Connor saved his Laffy Taffy that I bought him for an afternoon snack and on Monday, March 14, 2011, he came home from school and as he does so often sat down to enjoy his Laffy Taffy. Connor took one or two bites of his Laffy Taffy, and immediately began to have a burning reaction in his mouth and throat. Connor began to yell for his mother that his throat was burning, and she came rushing to his aid. Alisa knows that when Connor says he his throat is burning, he is having a very severe allergic reaction. My sister was very confused; Connor has eaten Laffy Taffy for years without problems, and now suddenly here was Connor having an allergic reaction episode to a product he has eaten in the past. Alisa checked the package and found that egg was an ingredient of the product. Connor is highly allergic to egg and the end result can be fatal if not treated quickly. Alisa administered the first counteraction to the egg and fortunately was able to can control over the reaction with the first treatment.
When I came home on Monday, I found my nephew to be not himself. Normally, Connor is a bustling ball of energy looking forward to playing with someone. This day he was very quiet, his head was hung low and he did not look me in the face. Connor began to mumble to my sister “tell Eric what happened, tell Eric what happened”. Alisa the told me the story much to my horror; in an effort to do something nice for my nephew, I had inadvertently put his life at risk.
Very concerned about what I had done to my nephew, I checked the product ingredient list for the smaller individual size packages of Laffy Taffy on the internet, the size that is served in the mix candy bags and in bulk quantity and egg albumen is not noted on the ingredient list. I checked the package that I bought Connor and there on the ingredient list is the egg albumen. The candies have the same package design between the large and small product servings, but different ingredients, specifically the egg albumen.
I contacted Nestle with by an email, addressing my concerns about my nephew and that they could be putting someone’s life in danger by the manner that they are packaging their products in relation to food allergies. The next day, Nestle emailed me and asked us to call their customer service department. The customer service department listened to my sister’s story, and then quizzed her for several minutes on what Connor had eaten. The customer service representative then quizzed Alisa on the package, the date purchased, were there any damages to the package, etc. My sister informed the representative that it was the egg that Connor was allergic to and that was the source of the problem. The representative informed us we should have read the label. Alisa countered we have read the labels, however, the confusion is that Nestle is making this product with different ingredients, but packaging them the same. Once you read one label, that label should be good for all the products. How can you have different size products with different ingredients, but sharing the same packaging? At the end of the conversation, the customer service representative offered my sister some free candy coupons for her and my nephew’s traumatic experience.
Alisa is very upset about this experience and rightly so. Had she not been at home during this incident, my nephew’s incident could have been tragic. Alisa would like to see the packaging changed on the Laffy Taffy and all products that contain allergens to indicate that there is an allergen present. We are going to continue interacting with Nestle and hopefully something positive will come of this. But for now, if you have children who eat Laffy Taffy and have food allergens you should use caution when serving this product.