here, eat this. what’s in it? i don’t know.

Hey guys! Have a couple of seconds? If so, help support HealthyTara and sign her ingredient transparency petition. Tara is a high school senior in Illinois who is trying to find out what is in her cafeteria food. That’s it. She’s not asking for any “intellectual property”, recipes, or for the school district to find more money. All she wants, is for the students, teachers, and parents to have access to the ingredients of the cafeteria menus.

Why does this matter? Well, first, they really just want to know what they are eating.  More importantly,  because anyone with a food allergy needs to have this information. Do you know anyone allergic to milk, eggs, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, or wheat? How about food dyes? Yeah, me too…I know several in fact. I will go into anaphylactic shock upon eating something containing a  large amount of yellow dye. It’s a serious allergy, not  a seasonal sneezing and runny eyes allergy….more of a throat close-up, can’t breathe, and may die allergy.

Then there is that whole  issue on safety. If we don’t know what is in the food in the first place, how are we to know what to look for and ask questions about when a recall is taking place?  How many of your schools have food that may have  HVP?  (HVP is a flavor enhancer used in a wide variety of processed food products, such as soups, sauces, chili, stews, hot dogs, gravies, seasoned snack foods, dips, and dressings.)  Maybe if we had the ingredient list, we could figure that out a bit faster. I don’t want my child to get salmonella…I’m sure you don’t either.

Tara’s petition is an effort to get the ball rolling in this direction. Currently, there is no law stating the full ingredient list be made available to the parents and kids.  She wants a national legislation passed that  requires ingredient transparency for all school food providers.

I have no doubt that school districts  want to give us  this information. I know they need it just as much as we do. They are the ones that have to handle these issues during school hours. The only problem, is their ability to get and then give this information to us.

When Tara first approached her school’s food supplier for the ingredient list, she got this response from them via email:


Thank you for your inquiry. It is currently being reviewed by our corporate office. We appreciate your patience and will respond accordingly.

In Tara’s instance, she was eventually told it would be a “conflict of interest” to give it to her.  Her school’s food supplier, ARAMARK  told her the ingredients were “intellectual property”.  I’m not sure when disclosing major allergens and additives became an issue of “intellectual property”, but the idea behind it is ridiculous. Why are we not allowed to know what additives are in our children’s food?

I’m allowed to know what is in my cat’s food. Why not my child’s? Why not your’s?

A few school’s are making a huge effort to keep parents informed. Not because they have to, but because they want to.  Allen ISD in Texas is one of them. They do not list every ingredient, however,  they do list major allergens, where the food came from, the product code, and the distribution code. This is on their website and readily made available to parents. It is a very impressive start. It is also a good model to show your district. If your school does the same, please share the link below so other parents can show  their own school districts.

Go to the link and sign the  petition.  You can read more about Tara and her story at HealthyTara. Supporting her helps set the standard and paves the way for  national legislation.  

Any other adults out there embarrassed it took an 18-year-old high school senior who is get this going? No? Just me? 🙂


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