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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Lunchtakers Database Not Always Completely Dairy-Free

This sounded like a good idea when I read the press release.

Knight Rose Productions, LLC launched Lunchtaker.com, a site dedicated to helping promote healthy eating. Lunchtaker offers hundreds of ideas for healthy lunch foods, which registered users can combine into their own lunch combinations. ...

"We came up with the idea for this site when our daughter entered Kindergarten," says Amy Dawson, who runs Knight Rose Productions with her husband, Scott. ...

Their children helped match foods to letters, resulting in the site’s A-Z listing. You can also search for items by food type, vegan or dairy-free classification, color and nutritional value.

I always check these things out, at least to a basic level, before I post them here. And I quickly ran into a major problem.

I entered dairy-free into their "Find Lunch Foods" box.

The search returned 269 items, in alphabetical order. The default view is 10 items to a page, but you can increase that to 50.

The first few items include many a variety of fruits and vegetables. Nothing wrong there, although most people don't need a specialty database to tell them that.

Then "bagel and cream cheese" appeared. And Baked Lays Sour Cream & Onion. And Baked Veggie Crisps (Farmland Cheddar). Ingredients can be found by clicking on the picture of the item.)

I soon figured out the problem. Putting anything into the "Find Lunch Foods" box returns 269 items, which appears to be all the items in their database. You have to then narrow the search by clicking the appropriate box on the product listing page. (This may only be a problem if you are not registered with the site.)

Clicking "dairy-free" returns only 79 items. That's better, although again it is heavy with fruits and vegetables. You still need to be careful, though. Clicking on Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwich yields the warning:
Choose what you like for ingredients, but if you need vegan and/or dairy free as marked on this item, be sure to choose a vegan, dairy-free bread.

Clicking on Hot Dog, however, gives no such warning although both hot dogs and hot dog buns may contain dairy. Lunchmaker.com gives two specific brands to make their meal. Ball Park Lite Franks are dairy-free, according to their website's ingredients lists, as apparently all their hot dogs are, except for the obvious case of their Cheese Franks. Unfortunately, Wegmans Hot Dog Rolls, Lite, do not appear anywhere on the store's Lactose-Free Wegmans brand products page.

This is a long-winded way of reminding you that while convenience is a huge plus for hurried parents, you can never trust anyone other than yourself to remember everything or be as careful as you need to be. And that you still need to take the time to double-check everything. I wish this weren't so, but the world is as it is.

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