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.

05 December 2014

Please Participate in Northwestern Medicine Study re: Risk Taking Behavior, Food Allergies and Adolescents

Please see the below information which I received from Northwestern Medicine and consider participating if you meet the eligibility requirements. The study is open until the end of December 2014.
"Study Overview: Researchers at Northwestern Medicine are conducting a research study entitled “Risk Taking Behavior among Adolescents with Food Allergy," which is currently enrolling participants.  The goal of this study is to learn more about the risk taking behaviors of food allergic adolescents – both in regard to general risk taking and risk taking as it relates to food allergy.  In order to participate in the study, adolescents between the ages of 14 and 22 years who currently have a food allergy are being asked to complete an entirely anonymous and confidential electronic survey.  No protected health or identifying information is being collected.  No compensation is being offered in exchange for study participation. All aspects of this research study have been approved by the Northwestern Institutional Review Board, IRB STU00097291.

If you are between the ages of 18 and 22 and are interested in participating in this study, please click on this secure link to access the anonymous and confidential survey [https://redcap.nubic.northwestern.edu/redcap/surveys/?s=TcT8XLeZeA].

If you are a parent with a food allergic child between the ages of 14 and 17 and have no objections to your adolescent child participating in this study, please forward him/her this link [https://redcap.nubic.northwestern.edu/redcap/surveys/?s=TcT8XLeZeA].  The link will take him/her to the completely anonymous and confidential survey.

If you would prefer for your child not to participate, no further action is required."

14 November 2014

Kids with Food Allergies Receives Well-Deserved Honor

Kudos to Kids with Food Allergies! A well deserved honor! See below press release:

Award is Based on Online Reviews
(WASHINGTON, DC - November 7, 2014) -- Kids With Food Allergies (KFA), a division of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), announced today that it has been honored with a prestigious award by GreatNonprofits, the leading provider of user reviews about nonprofit organizations.
“We are excited to be named a Top-Rated 2014 Nonprofit,” says Lynda Mitchell, a Vice President at AAFA and Founder of KFA. “We are proud of our accomplishments this year focused on keeping children with food allergies safe and healthy.
The Top-Rated Nonprofit Award was based on the large number of positive reviews that KFA received – reviews written by volunteers, donors and partners. People posted their personal experience with the nonprofit, such as, “The support and resources at KFA make it possible to be a successful parent of a kid with food allergies. Sharing the burden with other families makes it easier to deal with the day-to-day realities. I'm so grateful for KFA in my life.”
While the Top-Rated Awards run through the end of October, KFA was part of the inaugural group to qualify for the year. In addition, KFA will be added to GreatNonprofits #GivingTuesday Guide—an interactive guide to top nonprofits. Look for the guide near the holiday season.
“Savvy donors want to see the impact of their donations more than ever,” said Perla Ni, CEO of GreatNonprofits, “People with direct experience with KFA have voted that the organization is making a real difference.”
Being on the Top-Rated list gives donors and volunteers more confidence that this is a credible organization. The reviews by volunteers, clients and other donors show the on-the-ground results of this nonprofit. This award is a form of recognition by the community.
About KFA
Kids With Food Allergies (KFA) is a division of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. KFA is dedicated to keeping children safe and healthy through patient education regarding the nutritional implications of managing allergen-restricted diets, preventing reactions by avoiding allergens and being prepared to promptly manage and treat allergic reactions. KFA is an essential part of the food allergy and anaphylaxis community offering free patient education programs, webinars, an allergy buyers’ guide, an electronic database of allergen-free recipes and more. Most notably, KFA hosts the largest and most active online food allergy and anaphylaxis community on its website, a critical platform for parents and caregivers who want to network with others about raising kids with food allergies and related diseases. KFA merged to become a division of AAFA in 2013. For more information, visit www.kidswithfoodallergies.org.
About AAFA
The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), a not-for-profit organization founded in 1953, is the leading patient organization for people with asthma, allergies and related conditions. AAFA provides practical information, community based services and support through a national network of chapters and support groups. AAFA develops health education, organizes state and national advocacy efforts and funds research to find better treatments and cures. For more information, visit www.aafa.org.
About GreatNonprofits
GreatNonprofits is the leading site for donors and volunteers to find reviews and ratings of nonprofits. Reviews on the site influence 30 million donation decisions a year. For more information, visit www.greatnonprofits.org.

11 October 2014

Food Allergy Friendly Halloween Treats from A&J Bakery

Recently, we were the happy recipients of a package of food allergy friendly Halloween treats from A&J Bakery. A big thank you goes from my sons and I to A&J!!!There were spooky ghost purple sugar cookies and scrumptious big iced pumpkin sugar cookies--all free of the top 8 allergens!--, lots of candy corn free of peanuts, tree nuts, milk, wheat, and gluten (they do contain soy and egg), and delicious biscotti (their specialty item). I have learned over the years that treats from A&J don't last very long in our house. It is such a treat to get freshly baked food allergy safe sweets from a bakery!
The owner, Joe Hitzemann, has explained to me many times the efforts they go through to find quality, food allergy safe ingredients, so when they say it is nut-free or gluten-free, it really is--right down to the manufacturer of every single ingredient. Knowing this puts my mind at ease.
By the way, if you are having a hard time finding food allergy safe candy corn that is peanut-free, nut-free, dairy-free, wheat-free and gluten-free, consider calling A&J at (401) 228-8696 or visiting their website (http://www.aandjbakery.net) soon! It is difficult to find food allergy safe candy corn, and with clear allergen information!
Other candy corn is being sold at dollar stores in the US and Canada but based on a cursory Google search, I found it is apparently made by a company in Mexico with some history of lead contamination in their mint candies. I haven't been able to find information clarifying if that brand of candy corn is from the same factory as the contaminated mint candy. Jelly Belly makes candy corn which is peanut free, and does not contain tree nuts or dairy as ingredients, but I am finding unclear information about the possibility of cross-contamination with milk and nuts.
Beware of labeling tricks and enjoy some food allergy safe treats this Halloween!

02 October 2014

Food Allergy Consumer Alert: Halloween Candy

Each year, I find more and more food allergy safe options for my son. We've never missed trick-or-treating due to his food allergies, even though he does not eat any of the candy he gets while trick-or-treating. He is very happy to eat the safe candy I've got ready and waiting at home, and we have so much fun every year. As you consider your Halloween candy purchases (candy corn, marshmallow cremes, etc) and plans, I wanted to share some concerning information with you.
Over the last few years, I have noticed more and more food allergy families mentioning in online forums that they purchase food allergy safe candy at dollar stores. The labels say what we want to see: "This product is processed in a facility that does not use peanuts, tree nuts, milk or wheat." Like anyone, I love to get a bargain and I visit the dollar store myself from time to time. (not for toothpaste; not a big fan of antifreeze in my toothpaste.) I want to urge you to PLEASE do thorough research on the candy you buy. I recently discovered that Greenbriar International, which seems to be the Dollar Tree company, has had some problems with lead in their candy. From what I found in a cursory Google search, Greenbriar International (aka Dollar Tree) is related to Landmark Confections and Coastal Bay Confections, both candy brands sold at Dollar Tree stores. As recently as August 2014, some of their candy was found to be in violation of the California Health & Safety Code (Proposition  65). I found a "Sixty Day Notice of Intent to Sue for Violation of the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986". In this notice, they discuss "Violations of Proposition 65 Concerning Candy Containing Lead". The notice states the violations have been occurring for more than three years!
There has been so much frightening news lately: Ebola, Enterovirus 68, people jumping the fence at the White House and getting in the White House! As the old saying goes, buyer beware! Check those labels, and then maybe check out the company that manufacturers the candy or food you buy. Those of us managing food allergies are pretty savvy consumers, so take a good long look when you are at the store and make sure you aren't getting more or less than you bargained for...

14 September 2014

Food Allergy Consumer Product Review: No-Nut Butter

Empy jar of No-Nut Butter
Have you heard of The Sneaky Chef? If not, I am sure you will read more about her soon!

A few months ago, we had the delightful pleasure of sampling the Sneaky Chef's No-Nut Butter. It was so good, I had to pace myself in eating up the samples we had received. The taste and consistency are so reminiscent of peanut butter, it's remarkable! It is made from golden peas, and does not contain any of the top 11 food allergens. The manufacturing facility is peanut-free and nut-free as well. It contains no high fructose corn syrup and the peas and canola oil are non-GMO.

I'd love to get a case of the No-Nut Butter Grab & Go packages. They contain six 2 ounce packages of No-Nut Butter and are fantastic for school, camp, and work! Creamy and delicious, 2 tablespoons are 190 calories, with 3 grams of protein, which is great for my finicky eaters!

Thank you to Missy, the woman behind The Sneaky Chef, for contacting Food Allergy Buzz and sending samples for us to try! We loved No-Nut Butter!

The FAB Review

Dedicated facility: Yes. Manufacturing facility is free of peanuts and tree nuts.
Appearance: Comes in an 18 ounce BPA free plastic jar, a six pack of 2-ounce servings, and also a 1 serving snack pack with 2 ounces of No-Nut Butter and crackers. Looks just like peanut butter! (but it's not PB!)
Taste: One word--delicious!
Texture:  Smooth, just like it should be!

Convenience: No-Nut Butter is available in some stores in the New York area and online as well from retailers such as Amazon.com and Walmart.com. The Grab & Go packs are ideal for so many situations--camp, school, work. Check out the store locator on the Sneaky Chef  Facebook Page too.
Price/value: I cannot tell a lie--it's a little on the pricey side, but when you are managing food allergies and need free-from foods from dedicated facilities, the cost is always higher. An 18 ounce jar on Amazon is $10.34 and a Grab & Go package is $10.99. A half case (6 packages) of the Grab & Go on Amazon is $39.99, which equals $6.67 per 6-pack.  Walmart sells a case (12 packages) of the Grab & Go for $66, which breaks down to $5.50 per 6-pack.

Buy again?: Yes, in a heartbeat!


02 September 2014

Food Allergy Find: Peanut-Free Lofthouse Cookies

I had read that Lofthoue had begun making peanut-free frosted cookies at a new manufacturing facility and finally spotted some over the holiday weekend. On the one hand, it is exciting to see another peanut-free option at a local store. On the other hand, the two stores where I spotted them had them sitting side by side with the non-peanut free cookies. Talk about an accident waiting to happen. Although the new peanut-free cookies are labeled "peanut-free", they do look quite similar to the packages of non-peanut free cookies. This brought to mind two things:
  1. Is there any way the peanut-free labels can be put onto the non-peanut free cookies?
  2. How long will it be before someone accidentally buys and feeds the non-peanut-free cookies to an allergic individual (thinking they are the "safe" ones)? The label looks way too similar!! YIPES!
What do you think?

25 August 2014

Food Allergy Bloggers: Two Tips

Today, everyone has a blog! I started Food Allergy Buzz back in 2008, when there weren't very many food allergy bloggers. Now, there are a lot of food allergy blogs, and every major food allergy friendly food manufacturer and their PR folks know they can offer product in exchange for a review or an informational post on a multitude of food allergy blogs.

I recently received a request from a marketing firm which clearly asked me to accept payment for publishing posts linking to a company, not to disclose that the posts are sponsored, and also to use follow links, not nofollow links to web addresses they would provide. That breaks a couple of basic guidelines from the FTC and major search engines. I like to get paid as much as the next gal, but not if I have to break rules and mislead my readers! I imagine I am not the only food allergy blogger encountering these sorts of requests, so I thought I would share a few pieces of important info about digital advertising, reviews, and sponsored posts.

Disclosures in your blog
Ever been contacted about writing a post or publishing a post provided by the marketing/PR person in exchange for compensation? By compensation, I mean food, coupons, gift certificates/cards, any kind of payment in exchange for publishing the post. This would include reviews! If you accept any compensation, you need to include a "clear" and "conspicuous" disclosure, per Federal Trade Commission guidelines. The FTC has a great guide, entitled .com disclosures: How to Make Effective Disclosures in Digital Advertising, which even includes examples of what NOT to do. I encourage you to take a look at it.

Follow versus nofollow links
How about those companies that want you to link to a specific website, to help drive business their way? Google and other search engines have very specific guidelines about linking to other sites in exchange for compensation. If you link to other sites in exchange for compensation, Google recommends you place a nofollow link. I am no expert on SEO, but I do know that using a follow link means the site you link to will benefit from your own site's PageRank. That is important because PageRank relates directly to where your site pops up in search engine results. If you have a good PageRank and you link to another site with a follow link, you actually will be boosting that other site's PageRank. If you do that in exchange for money, Google views that negatively. Not surprising, they want advertisers to use their advertising services! In its webmaster guidelines, Google refers to placing a follow link in exchange for compensation as a "link scheme". It is a no-no, and you can be penalized by Google. This is probably something you want to avoid!

What to do? If you do place a text link or hyperlink to another site for compensation, don't shoot yourself in the foot! Use a nofollow link. It's a simple solution!

I hope this info is helpful! Feel free to send along other bloggy questions, and I will try to answer them in another post.
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