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No nut-based cakes for wedding cakes

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

I have been decorating party cakes for years and have recently begun taking wedding cake orders. For parties I feel that the guest count is usually small, and if there are any allergies then they will tell me. However, I feel that making wedding cakes containing nuts (almond, peanut butter, hazelnut) seem to hold a higher risk of a guest being exposed. I have listed that I will not make any cakes with with nut-bases for weddings, but have a customer who is insistent on having one for her 100+ wedding.

 

What do other bakers/decorators do? Even with a waiver signed by the customer I would feel horrible if someone had a reaction and something terrible came about...Am I being overly cautious?

 

Thanks so much!!

post #2 of 11
Considering about 1% of the population (with a higher concentration in kids) has food allergies and peanuts/nuts are the most common allergens, I don't think you're being too cautious. If your customer insists on a nut-based product and is not OK with the alternatives you suggest, they need to find another baker.
post #3 of 11
Most of the people I know with peanut allergies, or who have kids with a peanut allergy, would not eat a wedding cake unless they checked into the baker themselves and knew it came from a peanut free facility. It's just too risky. It is nice of you to try but I would not worry about it. People with allergies are generally very careful when eating out.
post #4 of 11

My friend's son has a severe nut / egg / seafood / sesame allergy.

 

They wouldn't dream of him having anything to eat without checking ingredients first and I think the same would be true of anyone with an allergy. 

Inside this fat body, there's a thin woman screaming to get out...... but I can usually shut her up with chocolate!
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Inside this fat body, there's a thin woman screaming to get out...... but I can usually shut her up with chocolate!
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post #5 of 11
Unlike gluten, eggs, or soy, it's relatively easy to cut out nuts and peanuts without impacting quality. Advertising the cake as nut-free and peanut-free (e.g. by providing tent cards) and leaving a list of ingredients with the venue for reference will give you exposure to a significant niche market. Of course you would need to make sure there is no cross-contamination in your own processes or those of your ingredient manufacturers.

This is really an all or nothing thing though, if you are not advertising your cakes as nut-free and doing due diligence on ingredient contamination then you might as well use nuts.
Edited by jason_kraft - 4/30/13 at 7:22am
post #6 of 11
Yes, you could have a great business being nut free, but as Jason said, be careful. You might consider getting extra insurance if you are going to advertise as a nut free baker. A friend found a Chinese restaurant that had a peanut free sub-menu. She checked it out, spoke to some friends with allergies that ordered from there and had no issues. She ordered several times for her child and all was fine. One day they ordered and the child went into anaphylactic shock, almost died, and had to be hospitalized for several days. My friend is not the suing type, but I'm sure there are others that would have sued that restaurant. Look into it; you could do very well as lots of people would like to find a nut free baker.
post #7 of 11
Regular business liability insurance typically provides $1-2M of coverage, which should be more than enough.

Also, any restaurant that provides an allergen-free dish will typically include a disclaimer stating that they cannot ensure there is no cross-contamination, unless the allergen is not used at all on site. Cross-contamination is much easier to manage at custom bakeries that work on one product at a time.
post #8 of 11
Good to know!
post #9 of 11
Thread Starter 

Thanks so much for the feedback! I have a nephew with severe allergic reactions to tree nuts, shellfish, etc. so I guess I am probably being overly cautious about the wedding cakes. And since I do nut-based cakes for other occasions and use the same pans (even though I wash and sanitize them properly), it sounds like it would be in my best interest to provide what they'd like but make sure I have fully covered in the contract that I am not liable. I think I will also make tent cards for the bride and groom to set next to the cake and have them sign off that they received those as well. That way, if they decide not to put the cards on the table at least I have done everything I could to aid in letting the guests know the cake has a layer or layers with tree nuts (whether it be flavoring, in the cake or in the filling) and has possibilities of cross contamination.

 

After speaking with my nephew's mother, she agreed that they personally take responsibility to make sure there is no possibility of the ingredients, and if it is unknown but suspicious, they opt to not allow him to eat the questionable items.

 

Like I said, I would feel horrible if someone ended up having an allergic reaction and anything significant happened to them. But I guess that as long as I cover all my bases and try to help them keep the guests as informed as possible then that is the most I can do. Short of becoming a completely nut-free bakery which, as some of you have noted, is also kind of a sticky situation considering that lots of the ingredients have disclaimers about the processing and possible cross contamination, I see that is my best route.

 

Thank you all again!!
 

post #10 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by kimberlyagt View Post

I have been decorating party cakes for years and have recently begun taking wedding cake orders. For parties I feel that the guest count is usually small, and if there are any allergies then they will tell me. However, I feel that making wedding cakes containing nuts (almond, peanut butter, hazelnut) seem to hold a higher risk of a guest being exposed. I have listed that I will not make any cakes with with nut-bases for weddings, but have a customer who is insistent on having one for her 100+ wedding.

 

What do other bakers/decorators do? Even with a waiver signed by the customer I would feel horrible if someone had a reaction and something terrible came about...Am I being overly cautious?

 

Thanks so much!!

You can always advise the person ordering the cake to have a small all-white no-nut kitchen cake.  When the guest asks for nut-free, they will still be able to share in the party goodies.  Waiver aside, the host should expect such off-the-cuff requests in a group of 100 people.

 

I am fine with baking nut-free cake as long as it is requested ahead of time.  With a large number of kids, I bake a nut-free chocoalte cake and nobody has trouble...the kids want to eat leftover cake for breakfast.

post #11 of 11

I would be so worried of cross contamination.  I'm always so paranoid.  I would never advertise as being nut free.  

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