What happens when a nutritionist who is also an avid cyclist and triathlete, teams up with a child nutrition advocate who was diagnosed with Celiac’s disease at age 15, and is also a parent of three children who have gluten intolerance? Naturally, they embark on a quest to find the perfect blend of nutrition and taste in an allergy free food, fit to provide quick convenient nutrition and energy to kids and athletes.
Jonathan Shambroom and Colleen Kavanaugh met three years ago in a class at the University of California, San Francisco, and worked tirelessly to create a safe, nutritious snack for people who suffer from food allergies and intolerances; the Zego Bar. But just how different is the Zego bar from other snacks?
An Allergy Friendly Snack for Allergy Sufferers on the Go
Keeping up with active children is often a challenge. It can be difficult to find convenient nutritious snacks for kids, and even harder for kids with allergies, especially those suffering from multiple allergies. Most energy bars, reached for by busy parents as a quick convenient snack for their kids, contain some combination of nuts, dairy, soy and gluten, allergens that could be deadly to some kids if ingested. Most energy bars are also often high in sugar, high fructose corn syrup and other items that can aggravate certain biological issues in children. The Zego bar was designed with the active family in mind. The hope was to provide a convenient, nutritious snack that doesn’t trigger allergies or digestion problems. Thus, the Zego bar doesn’t contain any peanuts, tree nuts, dairy, eggs, soy, fish, shellfish or gluten, is low in sugar and is packed with nutrition.
Additionally, the bar appears different from other energy bars in its gluten content. Items approved as “gluten free” by the FDA, may have up to 20 parts per million (ppm) of gluten, and are sometimes the cause of digestive problems in people with high gluten sensitivities. In an effort to rid gluten from their product, the makers of Zego took the designation “gluten free” to a new level. Zego bars are third party tested to the strictest possible gluten-free standard of less than five ppm and no oats of any kind, far lower than the FDA standard, to address the needs of those with a high sensitivity to gluten.
All of the “Good” Stuff and None of the “Bad”
Zego bars are vegan, kosher and low glycemic, so as not to cause blood sugar spikes and crashes. They are produced without top allergens, and do not contain oats, corn, GMO’s, or high fructose corn syrup. Instead, they are reportedly packed with antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals and 10 grams of protein. Although protein is essential for brain function in learning, getting the right amount of protein can be difficult for kids who suffer from nut, dairy and soy allergies. Zego bars were designed, in part, to address that dilemma.
Because of their passion for nutrition, the makers of Zego bars labored to create a product that helps kids and athletes become healthier in a society where food allergies and sensitivities are increasingly common, parents have less time, and kids and athletes demand increasingly greater taste. No one wants to eat the energy bars of yesterday that offer greater nutrition but taste like dirt.Currently, Zego bars come in two flavors, Chocolate, which reportedly has a rich, chewy brownie flavor and Sunflower, with a hint of caramel. But are Zego bars really allergen free?
Next Generation Packaging and Labeling
Like most energy bars, Zego bars are produced in a shared facility on shared equipment. But to prevent cross-contamination with allergens, Zego’s manufacturer uses a strict protocol that processes the energy bars on the production line first, before introducing any allergenic food items, then conducts a “complete allergen cleanout” at the end of each production day. A representative sample of bars is third party tested for the presence of any allergens attributable to cross contamination. Test results are posted by batch number on Zego’s website and on the bars’ packaging in the form of a patent pending Quick Response Code (QRC). Consumers can scan the QRC with a Smartphone, and learn the measurable amounts, in parts per million, of peanuts, almonds, eggs, soy, dairy and/or gluten that may be found in the batch. Thus far, no measurable amounts have been detected in any of the batches. However, the technology allows consumers to determine in real time whether the bar in their hands has been cross-contaminated with an allergen, and make food safety decisions at the time of purchase or consumption based on their child’s unique situation.
Zego hopes to improve food safety by empowering consumers to make informed decisions about products they feed their children, rather than relying on generalized statements that may not be accurate.
Currently, the FDA does not require package disclaimers for shared facilities. The disclaimer, if present, is voluntary.
Bonus Karma Points
Purchasing Zego bars can help kids in need get better nutrition. Becausepoor nutrition can interfere with learning, Zego works to help improve nutrition for low-income kids in addition to providing convenient nutrition to children with allergies.Zego donates, not one or two percent of profits, as do many companies, but a full 20 percent to Campaign for Better Nutrition, which helps increase the learning potential of low-income kids through improved nutrition.