Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Wait. ARE eggs dairy?

Last night in the grocery store, I needed to buy some bread.  I looked at all of the prepackaged loaves on the shelves.  To my absolute surprise, there was not a single loaf that didn't have some form of dairy in it.  No problem, I just went to the bread counter.

I noticed a loaf that had flax seeds in it.  It looked pretty interesting.  I asked the guy if there was an ingredients list.  I know that they have an ingredients list, because I have seen it many times before.  But he said no, there was not.  Ok.  So I asked him.  "What are the ingredients in the flax seed loaf?"  I was met with a blank stare.  "Is there dairy in the flax seed loaf?"  To which he replied, "Yes, most of our bread has dairy."

I have been buying bread from this bread counter almost weekly for over two years.  I have seen the ingredients list countless times.  I have talked to the day staff in great detail not only about the ingredients in the bread, but also about the cross contamination risks.  The day staff is wonderfully patient and knowledgable.  The night staff?  Not so much.

The woman behind the dude spoke up.  "The only breads with dairy are the challah and the split top country white loaves."  I was surprised to hear that, since we get the challah regularly.  I asked if they had changed the recipe.  It never had dairy in it before.

"The recipe hasn't changed.  It has always had dairy."  "No," I replied, "I have seen the ingredients list.  It hasn't."  She stopped what she was doing, squared her shoulders to face me full on, exasperatedly tilted her head to one side, put her hand on her hip, took an exaggerated breath and drawled, "It has EGGS in it."

Really guys?  You are in the food industry, and you don't know the difference between a cow and a chicken??

"No," I said.  "Eggs are from chickens.  Dairy comes from cows."  I started to turn away, and I heard a voice; almost a whisper.  "Eggs ARE dairy."  It was the dude.

A normal person may have just let it go.  A normal person may have just walked away and picked up some pita, maybe.  I am obviously not normal.  My child has life threatening food allergies.

Oh, who am I kidding.  I would have gone back anyway.

I couldn't help myself.  Before I knew what was happening, I had on my best talking to a two year old voice.  "Dairy comes from coOOows.  It includes milk, cream, butter, and cheese.  It is anything that can be made from a mammal's milk.  MAMmal.   Eggs are from CHICKens.  Do chickens produce milk? Are chickens mammals?!  No, they are not.  Just because they are in the same section of the grocery store, does NOT mean that they are the same thing."

As soon as the words were out of my mouth, I realized that I was not 8 feet away anymore.  Somehow I ended up leaning over the counter.  My top half seemed to stretch itself several extra inches, and I felt like a cartoon, but if I was indeed a cartoon, I would have been pointing a gangly knuckly pointy finger at the obviously stoned looking doofus cowering behind the register.  I was not, however, pointing a finger, and the obviously stoned looking doofus was not cowering behind the register.  But I found that my face was right up in his, my voice elevated but not quite yelling.  There may have even been a squeak or two.

His face was completely blank.  "Ok."

But not like a Thanks For The Information Ok or an I Feel Silly For Confusing Cows And Chickens Ok.  It was more of an I Really Don't Like My Job Because I Have To Deal With Crazy People Like You Ok.


This is the most difficult part of living with a food allergy.  Dealing with the people who just don't get it.  Or who just don't care.  

So on and on I will go, continuing my crusade, educating the world about food allergies and the difference between birds and mammals.  Or maybe I am really just looking for an excuse to bitch someone out.

I haven't quite decided yet.


  1. OMG!!! I know this isn't supposed to be funny, but I'm dieing over here!!! Mostly because I recently ran into a situation similar to this one, only with the head cook at my son's preschool... she was surprised to learn butter contained milk. she had also been giving my dairy allergic son margarine, which 'didn't' contain milk until I asked to look at the ingredient list and milk magically appeared on the list. but her mistake led us to introducing margarine into his diet.

    side note: i grew up on a dairy. so having a conversation about the ingredients in butter was quite amusing to me. it was very difficult to keep a straight face, anger, amusement, frustration... i was completely dumbfounded.

    1. It's amazing, isn't it.... I should probably be more patient and understanding with people, since, if they don't have to deal with something like this, it's probably just not on their radar. And that's not their fault, really.....

      Something I'm sure you already know, but this is what I found about margarine- Fleischmann's SALTED margarine has buttermilk in it. The UNSALTED margarine is dairy free. I don't quite understand why salted margarine needs dairy, you'd think they would just add salt, right? But on the other hand, Earth Balance is dairy free AND salted. And I have yet to find a Land o' Lakes marg without buttermilk. So, in short, read all of the labels, all of the time. I have also found that manufacturers change the composition of their ingredients sometimes. It is constant diligence! Thank you for your comments!

    2. thanks for the tips! i've always just used earth balance, it's easy to find here and i know they'll always be safe (although i shouldn't say always.) i'll definitely have to try fleishmann's, not a huge fan of earth balance but you do what you gotta do for allergies...

      i hate that manufacturers change their ingredients from time to time! fig newton's used to be safe and then they changed their recipe, grrrr. but oreos are still good, just not the fat free ones!