With an eye on the food allergy community as a unique group of consumers since 2008, we're on a quest to find and share ways to continue enjoying the good things in life allergen-free.

15 January 2017

Food Allergy Consumer Product Review: Better Bites Bakery


Better Bites Bakery
tel. (512) 350-2271

Better Bites Bakery was founded by Leah Lopez, the mom of a boy with food allergies and other dietary restrictions. The Better Bites Balery's mission on the website says it all--"to bake exceptional, tasty, and delightful treats with special dietary needs and high food standards in mind." I'd say they have achieved their mission!

The FAB Review
Dedicated facility: Yes. Manufacturing facility is free of the top 8 allergens and gluten and is kosher pareve too. They are non-GMO certified through the non-GMO project and verified vegan through Vegan Action. They do not use any artificial colors or preservatives. For the details, please see their website. NOTE: The Mostess Cupcakes contain coconut cream. (coconut is not a tree nut)
Appearance: All three items we sampled looked very lovely. They traveled very well during shipping! They are packaged very well so there were no dents, cracks, etc.

Taste: One word--delicious!
Vanilla Cake Ball

Texture: We sampled three different products--Cake Balls, Better Brownie, and Mostess Mini-cupcakes. The texture for each was exactly the way we had hoped it would be! No weird texture like you sometimes find with gluten-free products. The Cake Balls are heavy, and we kind of enjoyed that aspect, because we felt really satisfied after eating one!
Convenience: Better Bites are available in a number of Whole Foods stores. To see if they are in a store near you, check the Better Bites locator list. If you are like me, and do not live near one of those Whole Foods stores, you can order online and receive your order in the mail.
Price/value: This is a food allergy treat that is on the pricey side, and it should be. These treats are scrumptious, pretty, and are made in a top-8 allergen free bakery. A Cake Ball Sampler which is six 4-packs of cake balls (24 cake balls total) is $40. 12 individually wrapped Better Brownies are $36.00. Four 6-packs of Mini Mostess Cupcakes (24 mini cupcakes total) are $40. Better Bites would be a fantastic gift or treat for someone with food allergies! And if you cannot come up with a special occasion, then you can treat yourself or someone else just because!
Buy again?: Yes, in a heartbeat!

13 January 2017

Food Allergy Consumer Focus: The Not-So-Safe Snack Guide?

By Abhijit Tembhekar from Mumbai, India - Nikon D80 Apple, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7823406

Guest post by Lise Broer, Owner of the Rare Food Anaphylaxis Facebook Group. Rare Food Allergy Anaphylaxis is a forum for people who get life threatening immune responses to allergens that are not among the eight protected under US law. 

SnackSafely published an updated Safe Snack guide this week to accommodate consumer feedback. Wonderful was my first reaction. As the owner of the Rare Food Allergy Anaphylaxis Facebook group I had sent feedback to SnackSafely last year. The details of SnackSafely's updated guide are a disappointment: they chose to prioritize non-GMO and organic foods instead of a disclaimer about rare but potentially deadly allergic reactions to the foods in their guide.

The community I moderate includes people who are anaphylactic to potatoes, which is not a common condition but for someone who has it this is basically the same as an allergy to peanuts or shellfish. It means carrying an epinephrine auto-injector; accidental exposures can result in hospitalization. Very few people are this allergic to potatoes. So in addition to all the other challenges of living safely with the severest type of allergy a person with this diagnosis has to navigate widespread disbelief that their medical condition exists.

How does potato anaphylaxis relate to the SnackSafely guide, you ask? Potatoes are a common substitute for wheat. This is wonderful if you are allergic to wheat, not so good if you are allergic to potatoes. 

Now you might be thinking how impractical it would be to devise a list of safe snacks that eliminated every ingredient known to medicine as a cause of anaphylaxis. This is a fair point. So instead of asking for major revisions I asked SnackSafely to publish a disclaimer about rare anaphylaxis in the fine print. Their guide had no such statement last year. It still has none.

The SnackSafely list gets distributed to schools and scouting troops--all of whom want to ensure the safety of the children in their care. Yet it is possible to read the Safe Snack Guide front to back and come away with the impression that an eight-year-old who says, "I can't eat apples. I'm allergic to apples," is fibbing.

I also happen to be anaphylactic to apples. Even at age forty-eight this makes for challenging conversation because many people have never heard that a deadly immune response to apples is possible. The parents of children who have this medical problem find it deeply frustrating because you can coach a child in what to say and the child can obey perfectly without being believed. Other adults mistake these kids for picky eaters and there is not even one sentence in the fine print within the Safe Snack Guide to help. Many of the foods in the guide feature apples. A publication that brands itself as safe it owes its audience better.

When you add together all the rare causes of anaphylaxis, this type of condition is not all that uncommon. Nearly ten percent of food anaphylaxis sufferers have a life threatening allergy to something that is not a "big 8" allergen. So although you might never meet someone who gets anaphylaxis to potatoes or apples, you may know a person who has an equally serious allergy to mustard or peppermint or tomatoes or bananas or something else.

SnackSafely has tried to acknowledge less common allergies by publishing an alternate eleven allergen guide, yet there remain many anaphylactic allergens that are not accommodated by food manufacturers or by SnackSafely. Instead they could incorporate a disclaimer that popular substitute foods may be deadly in rare cases. If a child insists she can't eat grapes, the child could be right. It would be worth double checking with the parents. Yet instead of this caution, SnackSafely revised its guide to cover GMOs.

Nobody ever stopped breathing because a food was GMO.

Food Allergy Buzz thanks Lise for her contribution and for sharing her insight.

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