Confusing Paskez Label Nearly Ends in Tragedy

A crownheights.info reader sent in the following letter following a harrowing and life threatening event:

My son is allergic to dairy, and carries around an epipen. When he gets a reaction, it’s not just a rash or a sore throat, its an anaphylactic reaction. Anaphylaxis is such a severe allergic reaction that it can cause a person to stop breathing.

I was preparing to fly from Brooklyn to LA, and saw that a package of Paskez Chanukah Coins had bold letters on the box PARVE, and NUT FREE. I was thrilled and bought the box.

Chanukah morning, he jumped into his car rushing to work and grabbing a package of coins. After eating one his throat began to close. He knew immediately that he was having an anayphlactic reaction to dairy so he pulled over and self administered his epi-pen (adrenalin). The shot saved his life!

On the back of the product in teeny-tiny letters it states, “May contain traces of dairy. This does not affect the products Parve status.”

Now, my son and I should have read the minuscule ingredients listed on the back. But we trusted a FRUM company like PASKEZ that they would put this warning in BOLD letters. I am sure they are afraid that frum people would not purchase this product knowing it has traces of dairy!

I called the company and they asked me to return the product for further testing. We couldn’t wait for testing, as the next child could G-d forbid die!

P.S. Paskez asked what else my son ingested that morning, but it was ONLY their chocolate. Thanks for posting, it could save a life.

The letter has been edited for grammar and clarification with permission from the author.

21 Comments

  • 1. Chani wrote:

    This article is confusing! What is confusing about a label that says that the chocolate is parve? The machines were all kashered l’halacha, and there were trace milk particles in the air. These do not interfere with the kashrus standard of the product, but they can very well kill a person who is anaphylactic to milk. Therefore it is incumbent on the person with the allergies to read the labels of the food much in the same way it is incumbent on a frum person to check for a hechsher on a product. (Yesterday in Shoprite, I was surprised to see a flavor of pringles that my kids like had an OU D. on it. It is MY Responsibility to check the Kashrus labels to the standards I hold dear) just as it is the responsibility of the mom who buys her beloved child a snack to check the labels of the foods she is buying when he has ANAPHYLACTIC reactions to food.

    Reply
  • 2. Yossi wrote:

    NO.
    I’m sorry…
    As a parent of a child that has allergies, YOU& YOUR son should read & reread any & ALL labels before eating ANYTHING!!!!

    Reply
  • 3. Mendel wrote:

    Don’t blame Paskesz for you neglecting to read the ingredients. Lesson learnt, Pareve doesn’t mean no trace of milk.

    Reply
  • 5. Nechama wrote:

    If it contains traces of milk, it also cancels out their statement of it being VEGAN.
    I think they need to REALLY rethink their labeling and what it means to have each of these clarifications on their foods.

    Reply
    • 6. reading is fun wrote:

      Is that true? Because you say so?

      —What about products that say “May contain traces of milk products” or “Processed in a facility that manufactures milk products”, are they suitable for vegans?—

      This simply means that milk is not an added ingredient, but a very small amount may have come in contact with the food. This is really intended for people with severe allergies where even the tiniest amount of cross-contamination with an allergen could cause them to have an allergic reaction. Sometimes companies that don’t even use these ingredients but will add the “may contain “X” ingredients” to the package to cover their butts if someone were to have any adverse reaction. I do not avoid foods that contain only vegan ingredients but could be contaminated with non-vegan allergens.

  • 7. crown heights resident wrote:

    To avoid any of these problems, Paskes should simply write “””May contain traces of milk, This does not affect the products Parve status.””” in small print UNDER THE WORD PAREVE

    Reply
    • 9. Milhouse wrote:

      Why on earth should they put it there? They put it in the ingredient list which is where people are supposed to look. Contrary to the writer’s claim, the warning is not “teeny-tiny” or “minuscule”, it is in the normal size type used for ingredient lists and allergy warnings on every product in the supermarket. If you are allergic it is your job to check there, and if you don’t you are מתחייב בנפשך.

    • 10. Reply to Milhouse: wrote:

      You’re right that people with allergies should carefully check the ingredients of everything they eat.

      But Paskes should also show some consideration for people with dairy allergies.

      And simply write “””May contain traces of milk, This does not affect the products Parve status.””” in small print UNDER THE WORD PARVE.

  • 11. Epipen wrote:

    Boruch Hashem, your son is well. Thank G-d, for Epipens. Please make sure he tells his work of his allergy and that he should train them in the use of an epipen, if the need, G-d forbid, arises again. Everyone should view this site: https://www.epipen.ca/en/about-epipen/how-to-use
    Please let us know what Paskesz says about the product. Hope it is “just” an allergen problem and not a kashrus issue. Sorry your Chanukah was so upsetting.

    Reply
  • 12. traces wrote:

    seems to me there was more that “traces”. and pareve is pareve which means no milk or meat at all. sorry but they should be OU D no excuses

    Reply
    • 13. Milhouse wrote:

      What makes you think there were more than traces? And no, parev does NOT mean no milk or meat at all. It means that it is neither milchik nor fleishik, and may be used with both. That’s all.

  • 14. Jax wrote:

    Those criticisizing the mother are wrong. What if it were your kid. And what about kids who rely on packaging wording.

    Reply
    • 15. Milhouse wrote:

      On the contrary, those criticizing the company are wrong. Why do you think we should care more about this negligent mother than about an innocent Jewish company? We have the same obligation of ahavas yisroel to both, but one of them has done nothing wrong, while the other is slandering the other and deliberately trying to harm its parnossa.

      If it were your child then it’s your responsibility. Allergic children have to check the packaging wording which correctly said it may contain traces of milk. If they rely on the packaging they will be OK; this mother and her adult child didn’t bother looking, which is their fault.

  • 16. Vegan - wrote:

    Can you say pareve if it contains traces of pork ?

    Then how can you say Vegan if there are traces of milk ? Its either 100% or nothing.

    The mislabeling and misrepresentation of VEGAN in bold capital letters gave the consumer a false confidence that there is was milk in the product, discouraging consumer from reading fine print, which the consumer normally would have.

    Legally, food companies have a duty not to mislabel products VEGAN when they are not.

    Reply
    • 17. Milhouse wrote:

      You are wrong, and you are misrepresenting the law, which you have no right to do. Trace amounts of milk do not make it non-vegan, and neither do trace amounts of pork. They do not matter — but they can still trigger an allergic reaction.

  • 18. The Kangaroo wrote:

    I find this shocking that some dudes blame the victim without expressing even a slight sympathy for the victim. .

    Reply
  • 19. Vegans wrote:

    Even some vegan companies have warnings, because they share manufacturing facilities with other companies.

    Reply
  • 20. Milhouse wrote:

    If something has a trace amount of milk (or pork, for that matter) which halocho regards as not existing, then it is 100% parev, and to treat it otherwise is not a chumra, it’s apikorsus. It is forbidden to be “more machmir” than the halocho; one who does not believe in bitul is rejecting His authority and inventing his own religion.

    Reply
  • 21. Eliyahu B. wrote:

    My son is allergic to peanuts. Our doctor told us to be extremely careful when it says on product that it might contain traces of some food… most probably it definitely contains it and more than just traces of it.

    Reply

Leave Comment

Comment moderation is in use. Please do not submit your comment twice -- it will appear shortly.