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!