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.

07 August 2017

Food Allergy Consumer Product Review: PhillySwirl

Disclosure: Food Allergy Buzz received complementary samples of PhillySwirl for this product review.

Sometimes there is nothing more refreshing on a hot summer day than a cold treat from the freezer. PhillySwirl has become a go-to solution for those with top 8 food allergies in need of a frozen treat!

Philly Swirl is available at many supermarkets today and has quite a selection of frozen treats now. In July, we at Food Allergy Buzz sampled a selection of PhillySwirl treats, courtesy of our friends at PhillySwirl. We were excited to try PhillySwirl's ICEE MixItUp, Swirl Cups, Swirl Stix and Jungle Swirls. They really hit the spot on these hot summer days!

While we had enjoyed Swirl Cups and Swirl Stix previously, Jungle Swirls and ICEE Mix It Up were new to us. We enjoyed the fruit flavors in the Jungle Swirls as much as the sweet candy taste of the ICEE Mix It Ups. Also exciting, the Jungle Swirls are non-GMO too! In fact, we noticed some other new products on Philly Swirls' website are non-GMO as well. Every PhillySwirl product is so delicious, we would happily enjoy any or all of them again. In fact, we already do!

PhillySwirl is one of the few frozen treats consumers with food allergies can find in their grocer's freezer that actually states it is peanut free and made in a peanut free facility. It's extremely rare to find frozen treats that can make that claim and so state it right on the package and not just on the phone.  That's not all--the manufacturing facility for 3 out of the four products we sampled is also dairy free and gluten free, and none of the Philly Swirl products contain any high fructose syrup. The ICEE Mix It Up Stix are free of dairy ingredients but are not manufactured in a dairy free facility at this time. Every PhillySwirl product we sampled did not contain any of the top 8 most common food allergens. Moreover, all four samples were Kosher. That's pretty hard to beat!

Not only is PhillySwirl one of the most allergy friendly frozen treats on the market today, it also is available at a price that is budget friendly--usually around $2.99 for a box. And if you look at the calories, they are amazingly low calorie too--only between 40 and 50 calories each. It's a food allergy friendly win for Mom's budget (and waistline!), and you can pick them up a nearby supermarket!

The FAB Review: PhillySwirl
Dedicated facility: Yes. Some products are manufactured in a peanut-free, gluten-free and dairy-free. Some products products are manufactured in a peanut-free and gluten-free facility.
Appearance: Eye-catching colors, fun packaging.
Taste: Sweet. Some flavors have a candy flavor and others fruity.
Texture: Similar to italian ice and other ice pops, but slightly more solid
Convenience: Very easy to find at supermarkets around the U.S.
Buy again? yes!

Reminder: Always check the label and ingredients to determine if a food is safe for the allergies you are managing!


21 July 2017

Food Allergy Consumer Tip Fridays: "Is this safe?"

Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=40818260

If you have a question about a product...

Is this safe?
Is this made in a dedicated facility?
Is this made on shared lines?

Contact the manufacturer youself. It is SO easy to do! If they are not open, you can always email them and you will receive an answer soon enough, or just call when they do open.

We hear so much talk--especially lately!--about the risk of anaphylaxis, and yet so many parents post to a group of strangers on Facebook, asking if a food is safe? When it comes to a matter of life and death--especially for a child!--I would think most of us would prefer to get the information straight "from the horse's mouth." (the manufacturer)

Let's be honest, it is never that urgent to use a specific food item. There is always something else to eat. C'mon food allergy mommas, we owe our kids more!

Own your food allergies or your kids' food allergies. Do your own due diligence and teach your children to do the same. Contact the manufacturer yourself.

17 July 2017

News from Krispy Kreme for Consumers with Peanut Allergy

Today Krispy Kreme reached out to Food Allergy Buzz regarding a new donut with peanut ingredients that that will be introduced on July 24. I am copying and pasting the body of the message below for your information. 

"On July 24, Krispy Kreme Doughnuts will introduce a doughnut with peanuts and peanut ingredients in our shops and other locations where Krispy Kreme doughnuts are sold. Because the safety of our customers is our top priority, I wanted you and your community to be among the first in the U.S. to know about the introduction of this ingredient to our menu.

The introduction of this specific peanut menu item at Krispy Kreme Doughnuts is new, but Krispy Kreme shops have never been allergy-free and specifically nut-free. Our shops have ingredients that can contain known allergens, including nuts. We receive ingredients from suppliers who produce products with allergens, including nuts, tree nuts, fish and shellfish. While some shops do not sell products made with nuts on the menu, because of how our products are manufactured, none of our shops are ‘nut-free.’ Following national safety guidelines, we take many steps to clean machines and surfaces in our shops, but there is the possibility that trace allergens might be found in our products. As a result, we post and label known allergens and ask guests to make sure they check the post before entering our shops and the labels before consuming.

For more information about Krispy Kreme’s ingredients, please visit http://krispykreme.com/Nutritionals."

08 July 2017

Food Allergy Consumer News: An Epinephrine Tablet

By Carter Jake - http://www.nellis.af.mil/News/Art/igphoto/2001063097/, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=58277734

This is not the first time we have heard about it, but is probably a sign that it is closer to becoming a reality!

According to Meaghan St. Pierre of Click-On Detroit, "Researchers at Nova Southeastern University have been working for five years on a pill that might be an alternative to the EpiPen. It's a tablet that disintegrates in 10 to 15 seconds sending lifesaving epinephrine into the bloodstream."

To read the entire article which is entitled "Researchers working on alternative to EpiPen", visit the Click-On Detroit website.

There is no word on possible pricing yet.

01 July 2017

Food Allergies and Anxiety: New Study Out of Columbia

There is a new study out of Columbia Public Health (Columbia University's School of Public Health) linking childhood anxiety and food allergies. See "Researchers find link between food allergies and childhood anxiety" for a summary of the study. Obviously, a great deal more research is needed.
CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=18597
We really need a "whole child" approach to treating children with food allergies; we need allergists to treat the medical aspects of life with food allergies, and social workers or psychologists to help with the mental well-being aspects. There needs to be more collaboration between those two types of providers for patients with food allergies.

Since I began blogging in 2008, I have witnessed a massive uptick in the number of anxiety-ridden, overwhelmed parents in online food allergy support and discussion groups. Something needs to change in the way food allergies are being treated. Too many parents or even adult patients are at a loss about where to find answers about the day-to-day aspects of managing food allergies. When allergists send patients and their families back out into the world with just a diagnosis, a prescription for epinephrine injectors and instruction to avoid said allergen, they (the medical establishment) are doing a disservice to those patients. I urge parents of children with food allergies and adults with food allergies to be vigorous self-advocates. Call the allergist's office back with your questions. Go to your allergy appointments with a list of questions. Do not look for answers to your medical questions on Facebook or websites or blogs by non-medical professionals.

Food Allergy Buzz's favorite information sources for food allergies are listed below. They are accurate and always professional 

31 May 2017

Talking Asthma with Dr. Bansal

Our thanks goes to Exhale (www.exhalenow.com) for sponsoring this post and making it possible for Food Allergy Buzz to chat with Dr. Priya Bansal of the Allergy and Asthma Center in Bloomingdale, Illinois, about asthma and its connection to food allergies during this Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month. Exhale provides a new and unique service which uses sophisticated technology to capture particles in the air, at even a molecular level, to detect allergens in indoor spaces which can trigger asthma.

Dr. Bansal spoke with me for about 45 minutes on Thursday, May 26, 2017, and what follows is a summary of some of the highlights of our conversation.

What is asthma?
Asthma is a disease that's involved when there is inflammation in the airways and can be triggered by a number of things. It causes inflammation in the large and small air passageways. When you have an asthma attack, you get tightening in the smooth muscle surrounding the tissue, less room for air to go through, and mucus gets stuck inside the airways.

How does one know if they have asthma?
You might see a cough, wheezing, shortness of breath. The key is to know that these symptoms might be a sign of asthma. An allergist can look at the patient's history with the symptoms to assess whether or not the patient does indeed have asthma.

How does one manage asthma?
It depends on what your triggers are. You could have allergic asthma--pollen, pets--respiratory, cold weather, emotions or stress, medications, GERD, perfumes or fragrances. Sometimes there is a medication taken in advance, or a person might need to wear a mask, or sometimes a rescue inhaler is needed. Ideally, you want to prevent those triggers. If that is not possible, then you have options for treatment.

How dangerous is asthma?
It can be very dangerous. People ignore the signs or do more than they should, over-exerting themselves. Allergists can teach patients how to treat the symptoms and how to prevent asthma attacks. "If you recognize a problem, you stop doing what you're doing that's getting you into trouble, and the faster you take your rescue inhaler, the better off you're going to be."

How can a person know whether symptoms should be treated as a food allergy symptom or asthma symptom? 
Sometimes you can't tell at the beginning. It depends on the history. Dr. Bansal emphasized that if you aren't sure about whether or not you need epinephrine, the answer is usually yes! This is why preventative measures and counseling from your allergist are so important. 

Dr. Bansal advises patients to elevate their baseline. "If your baseline is good, you will not get into trouble. But if you're constantly having allergy symptoms..."(as an example) "allergy symptoms are causing severe post-nasal drip, which are causing heartburn, which is causing the asthma. If you fix the first problem, you won't have the other problems." In other words, if you fix the problems and triggers, the better you control your allergies or your triggers, the less of a problem your asthma will be. Asthma management, like food allergy management, is not a one-size-fits all. Asthma management depends on one's triggers, and allergists provide very specialized, tailored treatments. For example, if your asthma is triggered by environmental allergies, your allergist will work with you to figure out what allergens are in your environment, and what are your triggers, to determine what treatment is best. Allergists like Dr. Bansal recommend services such as Exhale--which can detect environmental allergens which are triggers for individuals with asthma—as it can provide valuable information to assist in asthma diagnosis, prevention and treatment. Uncovering allergens is most important for truly elevating the baseline and helping people with allergic asthma caused by allergens.

Dr. Bansal explained the benefits of a service such as Exhale. “A device like Exhale takes the guesswork out.” She recommends her patients put the device in the bedroom because that is where they spend the most time. Dr. Bansal explained with an example “Somebody might tell me ‘I don’t open the bedroom windows, there’s no pollen in there.’ But if you have a dog or cat, and the dog is coming into the room, and you don’t wipe them down and they’ve been outside, and they have pollen on them, and they are bringing pollen in the room, and the pollen level is high (per testing by Exhale), you can address that. You can actually start wiping down the dog, and maybe now you won’t be having the same allergy symptoms or asthma symptoms…so it…defines better what is going on in your bedroom to tell you what the specific problem is. And then once you have that data, combining it with the skin tests, and talking with the allergist…If you are getting allergic symptoms, and the testing and the reading on Exhale are matching, then you can be aggressive to target that particular antigen to get the symptoms to go away.”

If I have an inhaler, will I always need an inhaler?
No! Not necessarily. If you control the allergies and the triggers, and take preventative action, and the breathing improves, you may only need a rescue an inhaler and have mild/intermittent asthma.

How does asthma put those with food allergies at greater risk?
Almost all food allergy action plans have a box that says "Check if your child is asthmatic...the reason that's there is because the asthmatic child is a higher risk during a food allergy reaction because it can shut your airways down." If a patient has asthma and food allergies, and asthma symptoms such as an occasional cough are ignored or overlooked, instead of being treated, they will be in a much worse position if they have a food allergy reaction. So many people are--appropriately so!--concerned about avoiding a major food allergy reaction but yet overlook these mild asthma symptoms which could make a food allergy reaction so much worse.
I truly appreciated the opportunity to speak with Dr. Bansal about the importance of being aware of asthma symptoms and managing asthma. Many individuals with food allergies also have asthma, yet we don't hear much in the food allergy community about the role asthma plays in allergic reactions and the importance of managing asthma. Dr. Bansal emphasized that asthma is actually easy to manage, once you learn what to watch for and how to treat symptoms, and it is so very important to get asthma under control. There are simple things we can do in our daily lives to minimize exposure to environmental allergens which cause asthmatic symptoms. It's critically important for individuals with asthma to take preventative action to limit their exposure to their asthma triggers, especially individuals with food allergies. In fact, Dr. Bansal stated that those with food allergies "should aggressively target it because that will keep the food allergies (more severe reactions) at bay.

For more information about the Exhale device, and how it can help identify the allergens in your home so you can better manage your environmental allergies and asthma, please visit the Exhale website, and follow them on Facebook and Twitter. Food Allergy Buzz readers are entitled to a 10% discount on Exhale services. Just use the code "foodallergybuzz" at checkout on exhalenow.com. Thank you again to Dr. Bansal and the good people at Exhale!

19 May 2017

Food Allergy Consumer Tip Fridays: New Products from A & J Bakery

If you haven't visited A & J Bakery's website recently, you really should take a moment to see what's new. A&J Bakery is an allergy friendly baskery that is dedicated peanut, nut and gluten free and also makes many top-8 free desserts and other foods. Based in Rhode Island, they were also the first bakery in the United States--to my knowledge--to make a top 8 free (and more!) gingerbread house kit for Christmas, which has become quite popular over the last several years.  

I recently had the good fortune of trying two new products from A&J Bakery which I don't think you'll easily find elsewhere--top 8-free "thin mints" and top 8-free wine biscuits. That's right, they are free of all the top 8 allergens as determined by the FDA as well as gluten. I also spotted pepper biscuits and other treats on their Facebook page. A visit to A&J's Facebook page is almost as good as going to the bakery and peering through the glass case at all the goodies. 

Not familiar with wine biscuits? They are an Italian specialty cookie, which is a favorite in many Italian-American families in Rhode Island. I had never tried wine biscuits before! They are sweet wine flavored cookies, have a purplish color from the red wine they contain, and are twisted into a sort of ring-shape. And the allergy friendly thinmints were incredible! A&J's thinmints tasted just the way I remember those tasty Girl Scout cookies. I don't know how A&J does it, but they have found a way to make so many top-8 free treats that not only are delicious, but have the same texture as the "regular", non-allergy friendly versions! It's really quite amazing.  They clearly have mastered the art and science of allergy friendly baking, and are constantly adding to their menu. I can't wait to see what they come up with next. With an allergy friendly bakery like A&J around, my family doesn't miss out on any tasty desserts, even with food allergies!

Be sure to check out A&J's Bakery website and Facebook page

Not an ad. Just sharing #teallove.

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