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Thursday, May 15, 2008

Allergy-Free Grocery

Jennifer Elizondo timed the opening of her new allergy-free grocery in Virginia Beach, VA, to coincide with Food Allergy Awareness Week.

As is so often the case, she became aware of the problem of food allergies when her own son developed a life-threatening peanut allergy.

Local allergy-free grocery stores remain rare. Most supermarkets have sections of these foods and several web sites specialize in them, but a large niche remains to be filled. About six percent of children under three now suffer from food allergies.

The press release noted that:

Jennifer Elizondo, founder of Navan Foods, says, "I created this store in an image of what I would want in a grocery store. I shop for a child with food allergies and realized that there was a need for a store like mine. I wanted to create an easy, fast shopping experience where individuals can buy food in confidence."

What separates this store from other grocery or health food stores are the services offered by Navan Foods. Ms. Elizondo developed a detailed questionnaire, sending it to all manufacturers of the food to be carried in her store. The questionnaire asked about ingredients, as well as the manufacturing environment, which can cause a cross-contamination problem for potential allergens if they are present in the facility. The information was then used to create a product card that provides the customer with specific information about each product while shopping. "There have been many times that I have called a manufacturer right from the grocery store aisle," says Ms. Elizondo. "The product cards will help customers answer questions about ingredients and any potential cross-contamination issues."

Navan Foods offers a database where customers can query for food products based on specific ingredients they are avoiding. The database also contains search options to find food for other diets like the Feingold Diet and Vegan diets. There is also an in-store library that contains reference books to help customers if they have questions regarding safe foods or are just looking for a recipe.

For additional information, go to

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