Thursday, June 16, 2016

After Mislabeled Product Purchased At Local Food Market Causes Allergic Reaction In Son, Mother Reminds Others To be Careful

I was contacted a few days ago by local mom Debra, who purchased Pesto at Union Market on Court Street recently. The product caused a reaction in her son, who is allergic to nuts.

Debra explains that pine nuts, which are not nuts at all, should have been fine for her son to consume, but the pesto contained unlabeled, unknown nuts such as cashews or walnuts.

Luckily, Debra's son is fine after the incident, but she reached out to Union Market. She writes:
"A representative did respond to my concern, but was uninformed or knowledgable. She didn't understand cashews were part of the nut family. In future, to protect themselves legally, food will be labeled- so they say. No owner, or higher level person would contact me.
Legally, the maker is responsible, not the retailer as I understand. Nevertheless, disclosure of multiple sources of food and checking for responsible labeling should be part of any retailer

Debra wants others with allergies to be aware, to check labels carefully and to speak up if a product is incorrectly labeled. And please tell the store management, be it at Union Market, Whole Foods, Trader Joe's or other local food market.

Marko Lalic and Martin Nunez, the co-owners of Union Market just reached out to Pardon Me For Asking in response to the post above.
This is their email to me.

Dear Katia
Having read your blog post about Union Market last week we wanted to be sure that you and your readers have the benefit of all of the relevant information as well as our own input, as the owners of Union Market, regarding the issues raised in your story about food allergies and labeling.

Nothing is more important to us than the quality and integrity of our products, and we take our customers’ safety and allergy concerns very seriously. In the case of our Union Market brand pesto, the list of ingredients on the label is accurate; pine nuts are the only nuts contained in the pesto. Cashews and walnuts are processed at the same facility where our pesto is made, and we are adding a warning to the label to make that clear.

We are going above and beyond regulatory requirements to make our labeling more transparent and informative for customers with allergy concerns. We're currently in the process of redesigning the label for every Union Market brand item to call out potential cross-contaminants that would not be included in the list of ingredients. Our new labels will clearly identify major allergens that are processed in the same facility as our products.

We ask that you update your post with this additional information, which we believe is relevant to your readers. In addition, should anyone ever have questions about the ingredients in our products or any other concerns, they should email us at, and we will get back to them promptly with the answers they need.

Thanks very much.
Best regards,
Marko Lalic and Martin Nunez
Co-Owners, Union Market

I would like to thank both Marko and Martin for personally responding to Debra's concern and I have forwarded their email to her.


Anonymous said...

so many times I bought dairy food there, without checking the date... and the food was passed! like yogurt, cheese... unbelievable when it's so pricey!

Anonymous said...

Who did she talk to?! Cashews not a nut?! Oh brother. There are ways of getting to the buyers. Keep trying. And yes all ingredients should be listed. Duh

Anonymous said...

They have a refridgeration problem there with over stuffing the dairy case and the hot lights above the cheese. I too have ended up with curdled half and half.

Anonymous said...

I also have had multiple problems with the food at Union market. Their fruit and vegetables are often past due to the point of rotten at times. They will try and sell fruit and vegetables way past their time. I try to go there as little as possible now, especially because they are trying to sell rotten overpriced food. It doesn't surprise me that this customer had an issue with a mislabeled item.

Marcia said...

Why buy fruit and vegetables at Union Market when there’s an excellent produce store directly across the street?
The produce store’s prices are almost always a dollar less per pound than Union’s (or more!), and they have a fast turnover so the products are fresh. They also sell hard-to-find items, like watercress and fresh tofu.

Anonymous said...

I was about to type word for word Marcia's comment. KY Fruit/Vegetable has better quality, lower prices and wider selection than Union Market.

On a similar note, I don't know why people shop for meat at Union Market with Staubitz 2 blocks away. Or seafood for that matter with two great fishmongers close by.

Support these small stores people. They're better than the chains and if we don't appreciate them now we'll be complaining about their disappearance later.

Anonymous said...

Pardon me for correcting, but I believe the name of store is actually Union Markup, not Market. It seems they mark up all their prices on everyday items that you can get in the local stores all around the neighborhood.

Anonymous said...

I've had problems with the seafood at Union Market. Unlabeled, expired mussels. Highly dangerous, and illegal. No response when I wrote to the company complaining. I do my very best to avoid the place.
And, as others have mentioned, there is a wonderful, less expensive vegetable store directly across the street.

Anonymous said...

Yes, why in the world would one shop there, other than to be seen with the new Masters of the Universe who now live in the area? The market across the street is amazing, never purchased a bad veggie/fruit. The butcher on Smith, Pasonos has the best meat around, and the fish market on Court & Pres has fresh, beautiful fish, and Caputos bread is awesome, coffee? D'Amico's of course! I no longer live in the neighborhood, but whenever I am in the area, I make sure I hit all these places. These chain places do not give a rat's ass about the neighborhood. Everyone cries when the local guy closes. Support your local shops, they depend on you.

Debra said...

I am surprised, tonight, at union market, no signs, no label notices, no changes at all. So basically,no responsibility regarding allergy and safety labeling of foods or possible alerts of multiple manufactured.. I was not pleased that they would not follow up with me, but they are not doing the minimum which it to be sure their products are properly labeled. There is no concern for public safety. Not even a nod. Rather than bother speaking to a weekend manager again, I am writing to you. I do find this, from a safety stand point, astonishing.
Thanks for listening.

C.G. family since before St. Agnes was built said...

Union Market is not a place for real people to buy real food for their real family.
We live in a neighborhood, with neighborhood shops, with neighborhood workers.
Chain Food Store does not equal neighborhood.
Union Market is priced about 25% higher on most items. When local grocery stores started to close your local independent markets did NOT take advantage - they kept their prices about the same (once you allow for inflation)
People already mentioned Pasonos & Staubitz as REAL butchers, and the fresh fish market on Court & Pres, and Caputos & Monteleones & Court Pastry.
Also, aren't we tired of seeing little dirty hands of children in the olive bins - I love to see them sneeze and then grab a fist full of olives.
This is in addition to their out-of-date dairy and their stale $45 cakes that feed only 4 people.
And the workers who tend the shelves are generally rude - but MUST say the Cashiers are always very friendly.