News From the Allergy World

Is cleanliness the problem?
NPR did a story about a Swedish study that showed families that did their dishes by hand had a significantly less likelihood of having a child with eczema and a slightly less liklihood of having a child with allergic asthma or hay fever.  Read the article if you want more information. I don't think I'm covinced that hygiene is the issue but really love that more and more studies are coming out.

I love stories like this! You HAVE to read this!  I'm so excited!!!! (Yes, all the exclamation marks are warranted).

I really love joining groups on facebook and forums where people are talking about food allergies.  I think just in the last six months my education about food allergies has grown at least ten fold!  I had no idea how many people were out there doing amazing things like this gentlemen. A patch!  AMAZING!!!

Lupin Allergy?  A must read if you have a nut allergy in your life
Are you dealing with gluten allergies and nut allergies?  In our house I'm the one that has issues with gluten.  I opt for gluten-free foods and am always searching for one flour source that I can make baked goods for my entire family with but as for the pre-packaged crackers, bagels, buns, etc. they often times have egg in them so my daughter can't do them because that's on her list of foods to avoid.  I'm now starting to think that that may be a good thing.  She has had VERY little GF foods.

Food allergies around the world
I've been wondering about the prevalence of food allergies around the world and found a few interesting articles and thought I would share.
From the food allergy living blog:

A map of food allergies around the world

Japan recommends labeling for the top 18 allergens but requires labeling for 7.

The prevalence of food allergies in Europe has doubled between 2001 and 2011

I also learned that there isn't a lot of good statistics on the prevalence of food allergies in Latin America and Africa.  Apparently the "peanut" of the middle east is Sesame. 

A nice sample letter if your school is "nut free" for your child's sake
We are just getting into the school push back right now.  My daughter is in kindergarten and we've been going the private route with the purpose of having a smaller class size and thus a little more control, or so we feel.  We often struggle with ways to phrase things so as not to impose on others but to acknowledge the very real concern we have for our child's safety.  One way that I've found to get my point across is to say "if we replaced the words 'peanut butter' with the word 'gun' I think it would be an easier decision to make.  Let me clarify, the reason I relate it to a gun is because the end result of a gun shooting someone and where a small amount of nut protein were to end up in my child's mouth are potentially the same, death.  The arguments for keeping peanut butter in schools sounds silly when you replace the words in the following common arguments "my child will only use guns," "guns are cheap," "my child has a right to take a gun to school," "I know my child will be responsible with guns," and so on.  No matter how you feel about gun control I'm sure we would all feel safer if children in crowded cafeteria's or classrooms were not in possession of guns. 

I discovered this sample letter that in my opinion was a nice way to phrase things to all those parents that HAVE changed to accommodate to our children that have nut allergies.  If you are battling with this you may want to take a look.

My review of Zego bars
So to be honest, I'm not a fan of protein bars, well none thus far.  They taste weird, chewy, and never taste like what they claim to be.  When I was given the opportunity to taste Zego bars, to me, they tasted just like all the other protein bars I've had in the past (I told you I was going to be honest).  I was given some free samples and wasn't sure what to do with them.  My son is so picky and all new foods for my daughter must be eaten around either her Dad or I, house rules.  In a rush last week I threw one of the bars in my son/Mr. Picky's lunch.  He LOVED the bar to my total surprise.  He even saved the wrapper in his empty lunchbox to remind himself and me of what he ate and asked if we could get more.  The sample was a chocolate bar and I just happen to have two of them.  He responded the same way the next day when I gave him the second one, which is not always the case.  I was regretting that I gave him both samples without giving them another try until I realized (duh!) I can just order some. I'm happy to have found a bar that will be "safe" in our house and will hopefully help to fill my ever-growing boy's stomach up when he goes through his crazy growth spurts where we can't seem to pack him enough food!

Considering going to theme parks with your food allergy kiddo during this holiday season?

I've done some pretty crazy things in the past to make sure I keep my family safe when traveling.  Two years ago we headed to Illinois and then to Virginia.  I packed a piece of luggage with recipes and then individual bags with all the dry ingredients I needed to make several meals.  I created a shopping list and then hit the grocery stores in each state for wet ingredients.  It was a lot of work but it made me feel more comfortable.  Our allergist told us point blank to not take our daughter out to eat.  I hear people talking about going to restaurants and making sure the chef knows about their child's food allergies but I cannot get this sentence out of my head "is there any meal so convenient that I would risk my daughter's life for it?"  The answer is always "no."  I've heard people say there are stages to having a child with food allergies and  you end up finding some middle ground.  I have to wonder if my family is just a bit healthier by not eating out so much.  We have one, newly two, restaurants that are okay for my daughter.  There are times that I WISH we could eat out - like the time I had bronchitis and coughed so much I broke a rib and could barely stand up straight.  Yeah...that would have been an awesome time to order out for dinner...but nope.  Maybe in hindsight we could have.  Today my daughter's teacher told me it's hard to remember that she has all these health concerns because she looks so healthy.  I really feel like she looks so healthy because of how hard we have worked.  She (like my son) are our gold medals.  So then you add in taking a trip and how to keep them safe.  My family will be traveling for the holidays which is always a little concerning for me.  First you have the plane trip (ugh), then all new places with difficulty controlling all situations.  We are fortunate to have family and friends that are preparing and bending over backwards to accommodate our crazy life.  We do have some top secret outings planned as well (shhh!) so I've been doing a little research.  If you are anticipating traveling to any theme parks take a look at this article I thought there was some great ideas and tips for hitting the parks with your food allergic child. 

FARE's  Teal Pumpkin Project
I love the idea that FARE launched of the Teal Pumpkin.  If you haven't heard about it go look here:  Paint a pumpkin teal to show that you are handing out non-food Halloween treats to keep Halloween safe for kids with food allergies.  I know that for my family October has historically not been our best month.  When my daughter was two we took her trick-or-treating to "collect treats but not to eat them."  I wrapped presents for both my kids to swap their collected candy for when we got home.  My son had more stamina at five so my husband and I decided to divide and conquer.  He took our daughter home with her fifteen pieces of candy and I went to trick-or-treating on another portion of our block with our son.  It took my son and I another ten to fifteen minutes to get home after we had parted ways with my husband and daughter.  I came home to panic.  My husband had our daughter in the bathtub and he was hurriedly rushing around her.  I was having a hard time understanding what was going on.  The doorbell was ringing one right after the other and my husband was speaking in quick short sentences. Apparently on that short walk (stroller ride for her) home that they had my daughter had reached into her plastic jack-o-lantern and pulled out a piece of chocolate.  She had only unwrapped a small portion of it but there was a piece of the chocolate missing. My husband caught her mid chomp and swatted the chocolate out of her mouth and hand.  He wasn't sure how much she had gotten in her mouth at that point.  At home we watched her as she sat in the tub waiting for signs of distress.  We watched the clock trying to guess how much time had passed from when she had tasted the chocolate.  We felt like the coast was clear after what we guessed was about a half hour and my husband went off to assist with our son.  Then the coughing began.  My daughter started to cry and make this strange breathy-coughing noise.  In my mind I was thinking "we are so far away from the time she had contact, it can't be the chocolate, maybe she is getting a cold."  I held her and rocked her while she made this noise.  It only lasted about five minutes or so.  Knowing now what I do I CANNOT believe I let that sound come out of her and didn't act upon it.  I am so incredibly thankful that she was fine.  It is with this story and unfortunately a few others about our October missteps that I say "thank you" FARE!  Thank you for offering up an alternative! 

An interview with Dr. Ruchi Gupta
Dr. Gupta spoke at our Food Allergy Bloggers conference.  She is a Pediatrician who is researching food allergies.  This interview done a few months ago is a really good question and answer session to help explain food allergies to those that don't have them or know anyone (are there anymore of those people) that has food allergies.

You may also want to take a look at her new book "The Food Allergy Experience."  She was an excellent speaker and I for one am excited to read her book!

My review of Sunbutter

This is a staple in our house, sunflower seed butter that is.  We have tried a few types including Trader Joe's brand, an organic brand that's name is escaping me and this Sunbutter brand.  For my crew - one that hasn't eaten anything but sunflower seed butter and the other who still remembers what peanut butter tastes like - this brand of sunflower seed butter is the favorite.  We have re-created many of our beloved (formerly peanut butter) recipes with Sunbutter and even been accused of putting peanut butter in by our which we just smile.  We are even enrolled in the Amazon regular delivery of two HUGE tubs of this stuff every three months. could say we LOVE it!  I was thrilled to see that they have a 'no sugar' version at the Food Allergy Bloggers Conference!

My review of Sun Cups

Here's my down and dirty description - you can taste the sunflower seed butter in the sunbutter cup.  Duh, right?  But I mention this because my son doesn't have food allergies and was a huge fan of peanut butter before his sister came along.  He likes sunbutter but recently we tried a brand other than the Trader Joe's sunflower seed butter and the Sunbutter brand and he said "OMG!!!  This tastes EXACTLY like peanut butter!!" (My review for that product will come soon).  His palate is more oriented towards replacing peanut butter.  My daughter's "normal" is sunflower seed butter taste. So the verdict.......we LOVE these amazing treats!!!!  My daughter loved ALL the cups we tried (sunbutter filled, caramel and mint) but my son preferred the mint and caramel versions over the sunflower seed butter filled cups.

Exciting news for egg allergic kids and the flu shot.

A company I can support!
I am not being paid to write this, nor is this company likely aware that I am writing this but I am so proud of Annie's Homegrown.  Because we don't purchase foods in our house that have either shared equipment or shared a facility with tree nuts, peanuts or eggs each time I consider buying something new I research the company first to figure out if they label for shared equipment or facilities.  If the label doesn't say it I call the company to get the answer.  Recently we considered buying some Annie's Homegrown crackers in a desperate search for food that my kids can take to school as a treat that doesn't require me to cook on a weekly basis (I'm frequently in the kitchen, and that's not my only job!).  This is what I found on their webpage:

"While there has been no product reformulation or change in manufacturing facilities, Annie’s  has recently decided to go above and beyond FDA requirements and include an allergen statement on all of our products that are manufactured on shared equipment with any of the top eight allergens. Our manufacturing facilities meet with the highest standards of cleanliness, and we maintain all allergen cleaning, and Quality Control protocol on file. We recognize the needs of our customers who have allergies or sensitivities to nuts, gluten, certain spices, etc. Annie’s always fully discloses all ingredients on the ingredient statement and will answer any questions that will help consumers decide what products they can safely consume. At Annie’s, we take every precaution to ensure that cross contamination of ingredients does not occur in our production facility. We run the products in a particular order to reduce the risk of cross contamination, take the equipment apart and thoroughly clean it in between runs of product. However, we want you to know that some products are produced in a plant that processes foods containing wheat, dairy, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, crustaceans/shellfish, and egg. This is why we voluntarily chose to update our packaging to include this allergen information."

Thank you Annie's Homegrown!  Thank you from all the parents out there for this extra step!!!

Four year old goes into anaphylactic shock on airplane after fellow passenger snacks on peanuts - Aug. 14, 2014
After three warnings by flight attendants letting fellow passengers on Ryanair know that a child on-board had a severe peanut allergy a fellow passenger snacked on peanuts.  The flight almost turned into a lethal one for a four year old little girl.  Her parents were forced to use her epi-pen to help open her airway after she passed out.  She was taken to the hospital for observation and released four hours later. 

For more on this story, see this article

Teenager dies in father’s arms after peanut reaction – July 29, 2013
Thirteen-year-old Natalie Giorgi's family issued a statement: “As our hearts are breaking over this tragedy, we hope others can learn from this that food allergies are life-threatening.” Natalie's Rice Krispies treat was iced with chocolate and peanut butter, and the teen was allergic to peanuts. Even though she spat it out, the bite was enough to put her into anaphylactic shock and cardiac arrest.

For more on this story, see the

May 2, 2013: NEW YORK (AP) — Parents are reporting more skin and food allergies in their children, a big government survey found.

Experts aren't sure what's behind the increase. Could it be that children are growing up in households so clean that it leaves them more sensitive to things that can trigger allergies? Or are mom and dad paying closer attention to rashes and reactions, and more likely to call it an allergy?
"We don't really have the answer," said Dr. Lara Akinbami of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the senior author of the new report released Thursday.

The CDC survey suggests that about 1 in 20 U.S. children have food allergies. That's a 50 percent increase from the late 1990s. For eczema and other skin allergies, it's 1 in 8 children, an increase of 69 percent. It found no increase, however, in hay fever or other respiratory allergies. 

For more on this story, see the Yahoo News Article