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Consumer Alert: Toys May Contain Hidden Allergens

Parents who have kids with food allergies are used to investigating ingredients in the grocery store, but what about at the toy store?

Be mindful that toys may contain hidden allergens.

Toys Hidden Allergens

Recently FARE was notified about a science experiment kit that contained powder used to make fingerprints. A 9-year-old child with a wheat allergy and a history of upper airway reactions received this kit as a gift and after using it, experienced an allergic reaction. His allergist identified the kit as a possible cause of reaction and requested that the product be tested. This powder, the source of which was not identified on the product itself, was tested by the Food Allergy Research & Resource Program (FARRP) at the University of Nebraska and shown to contain a large concentration of gluten. This finding indicates the powder could be composed of wheat flour. For a child with wheat allergy, playing with this toy could lead to a mild or severe allergic reaction.

Read more: Allergic reaction from fingerprint kit attributable to unlabeled gluten, probable wheat flour

Other examples of hidden allergens found in toys include:

  • Play dough – commercial modeling dough and clay typically contains wheat
  • Finger paint – depending on the brand, or homemade recipe, paint can contain wheat, milk, corn, and/or soy
  • Chalk – dustless or anti-dust chalk can contain casein, a milk protein
  • Stuffed animals – some stuffed animals can be filled with wheat or rice, commonly found in microwaveable toys. Peanut shells may even be used as stuffing.

Parents of children with food allergies should take appropriate precautions when buying new toys, particularly for younger children who more frequently put fingers and hands into mouths.

Have you found hidden allergens in toys or other non-food items? Leave a comment!

12 thoughts on “Consumer Alert: Toys May Contain Hidden Allergens

  1. There is a huge kids sand box/playgroud at the central park in NYC near Columbus circle. When my son played with the sand his sands swelled up like baloons. He is allergic to tree nuts.

  2. My son has cold urticaria and one time I put fast drying finger paint on his hand to make hand prints and within seconds he was pale and started to feel like he was going to faint. I thought it might be because of the paint so I washed his hands immediately and he began to feel better. I wonder if the freezing agent in the paint made him have a reaction.

  3. My son who has e egg and peanut allergies also had an ER worthy reaction to temporary tattoos. One tattoo on his hand resulted in hives all over his body that required steroids.

  4. How, exactly, should parents take ” take appropriate precautions” when buying this stuff? Call companies? Go on websites? Ask facebook?
    Yes, Playdoh labels and we know there is probably wheat in most play doh type products. But stuffed animals? Finger paints? There’s no labeling! Even advice on safe products for certain allergens, somehow tested by FARE and approved (to tell the art teacher) would be of more help than that basic advice.
    Until then, we will continue to hunt and pick through various blogs, websites and posts and cross our fingers.

  5. I’ve learned to read the ingredient list on every lotion, shampoo, conditioner, face/body wash, and all cosmetics. I have two teenage daughters that are severely allergic to peanuts and tree nuts. Many of these types of products contain almond oil, macadamia oil, or other nut varieties.

  6. My son recently attended a car show and told me that one of the big 3 car companies is using corn for their fabric in their vehicles and I am highly allergic to CORN and have been for 46 years! We are using corn derivatives in our fuel, and I have to breather that in and now here is another thing I may need to be concerned with. Has anyone else thought about this?

  7. I agree with the previous comment. How do parents / those with allergies take precautions without labels? Given the fact that the top 8 allergens are identified, shouldn’t there be some kind of push on companies when using any of the top 8 in their products- edible or not!!! What can we do to help make this happen???

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