I love to read about new allergy-friendly products. Sometimes it’s a product that’s not for me, or one I’m already familiar with, but every now and then there is a product that is new-to-me and intrigues me.
Such was the case when I came across ZEGO Bars.
And with a description like the following that can be found on ZEGO’s website, who wouldn’t be interested? “Allergen friendly protein bars made without peanuts, tree nuts, soy, dairy, egg, and gluten. Great for nut free schools. Organic. Vegan. Kosher. Low-glycemic. Celiac, Diabetic, Paleo, and Macrobiotic friendly. Each batch tested for cross contact. Made on shared equipment. See Allergen page for more. Contains coconut.” It’s also worth noting that ZEGO donates a portion of every purchase to improve nutrition for low-income kids.
In the interest of full disclosure, the Allergen page referenced in the above quote from Zego’s website states the following, “ZEGO bars are crafted without the most common allergenic ingredients. Our shared facility has careful allergen control procedures to minimize cross contact with peanuts, tree nuts, soy, dairy, egg and seeds which are processed on the same equipment as ZEGO bars. We also take the extra safety step of testing each batch for the allergens below and linking the results to each bar so you can decide if ZEGO bars are right for you.”
I quickly contacted ZEGO bars to learn more about their product and asked if they would send me a few bars to sample and review (for consumption of the product as much as checking out the testing standards they use).
Colleen Kavanagh, CEO and Co-Founder of ZEGO, was kind enough to quickly send me two ZEGO bars (Chocolate and Sunflower) for review. The delivery and customer service were exceptional!
Before opening the bars, I wanted to check out the individualized allergen testing results for each bar. Both the chocolate and sunflower ZEGO bars came with a Z-Code on the front of the package. I used a QR code app on my phone to find out the allergen testing results for my specific ZEGO bars. The allergens tested by ZEGO are: gluten, peanuts, dairy, almonds, soy, hazelnut, pecan, pistachio, walnut, cashews, egg, and GMOs. However, my specific batch of bars also tested for the presence of sesame.
Here is what a sample of test results looks like.
Both of my bars showed no measurable amount of most of the allergens, but not all. The testing results did yield a presence of almond and sesame. My son has life-threatening allergies to peanuts, tree nuts, sesame, and chickpea/garbanzo so for those reasons the bars are not something I felt comfortable with him consuming.
I have celiac disease and the bars did not show any measurable amount of gluten. So I, my husband, and daughter (hubby and daughter have no allergies) tried them. I’m sorry to say that taste and texture of the bars did not agree with my husband’s or my personal preferences. That said, my 7-year-old daughter did think the bars were “good.”
When I contacted Colleen about the presence of almond in the bars I received, she said she plans to meet with the manufacturer to discuss where the cross contact originated. As for the sesame, ZEGO does not claim their bars to be sesame-free but simply added the test as a courtesy to consumers who may be living with a sesame allergy.
As the mother of a child with food allergies, I certainly appreciate ZEGO’s efforts to be transparent in the allergen testing of their products. What a wonderful feeling it would be to scan the wrapping of a food your child is eating and instantly know if there is any measurable amount of an allergen present. Talk about peace of mind!
While I am thankful for their hard work on behalf of those with food allergies and others with dietary restrictions, ZEGO bars is not something that I feel is a good fit for my family.
It is worth noting that Colleen did offer that the chocolate and suflower ZEGO bars are the two flavors the company launched with, but that they will be introducing two more bars in the fall with a different taste profile and texture.
Colleen and her staff are currently working within the food industry to encourage transparency beyond just ingredient labels and encourage other companies to begin offering allergen testing results directly to the consumer. I wish them the very best of luck and can’t wait to see how it will transform the food allergy community!