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.

04 December 2016

Food Allergy Outrage

I just saw a post sharing information about Hostess adding peanut flour to their list of ingredients, and that came on the heels of the Krispy Kreme announcement about using tree nuts. It may sound silly to some people, but ingredient changes in donuts and other foods are news in the food allergy community. As people managing food allergies, we must know about ingredients because it can become a matter of life and death. Over the years, I have noticed we always are losing a few "safe" products and then gaining a few new ones. That's life with food allergies. Sometimes, however, people get a little carried away, even emotional about ingredient changes. Only a few months ago, there was quite an uproar among some peanut allergy families about the addition of peanut flour to cheese and crackers made by Kellogg's. There was even a petition circulated. Talk about not being able to see the forest through the trees...

Let's just be direct about it:

Companies that truly are food allergy friendly act like it. 

Food allergy friendly manufacturers use voluntary "may contains" labeling. They are transparent about their manufacturing and labeling practices, and their ingredients. They indicate whether other top 8 allergens are present in the facility. They don't give vague shrouded answers to inquiries from people managing food allergies that practically need a lawyer for interpretation. Look at Enjoy Life Foods. I think we can agree they are pretty much the gold standard for labeling and transparency for people with food allergies. 

When Hostess gave factory numbers for people to figure out which Ho-Hos were "safe", that was a red flag. To me, that meant this company is not peanut allergy friendly. I thought since they make products with peanuts, it was just a matter of time before they will need to do so at that special numbered factory I keep reading about in the food allergy groups on Facebook. The fact that they are now adding peanut flour to the end of the list of ingredients means exactly what I already knew--they are not peanut allergy friendly! This is not surprising news. If they were truly peanut allergy friendly, they would have labeled the "safe" product as "peanut-free" or "made in a peanut-free facility".  They never did. Adding peanut flour is giving them flexibility that they obviously feel they need. It probably isn't economically efficient to have 1 or 2 facilities be peanut-free. I imagine it must have been like having one hand tied behind their corporate back. Now, they have the flexibility to move product manufacturing around however is best. It is a simple dollars and cents thing, and should not be surprising to any of us. Just another reminder to read the label. Every. Single. Time. It is our responsibility as consumers.

This is business. It is capitalism at work. Hostess wasn't ever that peanut allergy friendly. There  always have been some of us who manage peanut allergies/tree nut allergies and avoided those products. The fact that they made any products containing peanut made them off limits for my family; I always felt there might be a last minute need for them to switch facilities and doubted they would think to warn those people who knew about the secret peanut-free factory numbers. It's not like they advertised the secret peanut-free factory identification numbers. It was this weird bit of information you might find in food allergy groups on Facebook, not exactly well publicized by Hostess, and there were reasons for that. Believe me, if they wanted to be known as having peanut-free facilities, they would have been shouting it from the mountain tops.

This is not something to write a petition about, just like Kellogg's-gate, the peanut flour infused-cheese and crackers episode. These ingredient changes, while disappointing, pale in comparison to more serious food allergy problems, such as the recent passing of Oakley Debbs, whose parents did not receive essential information about when to use an Epi-pen. Let's stop and reflect on that for a moment. Because they did not know how to treat the symptoms they were witnessing--due to the lack of information they received--Oakley's parents don't have Oakley with them anymore. Fellow parents of children with food allergies, can you think of anything more painful, more heartbreaking, more horrible? I can't even type this without emotion blurring the keys on my keyboard. Where is the outrage about the lack of information about anaphylaxis some individuals with food allergies receive from their doctors??? 

How much effort and emotion went into people petitioning Kellogg's about cheese and crackers, when we have countless food allergy families around the United States who aren't receiving life saving information from their doctors??? Where are our priorities? As a parent of a child with peanut and tree nut allergies, I felt embarrassed by the petition about the ingredient change in Kellogg's cheese and crackers. I feel embarrassed about the emotional reactions I see in response to Krispy Kreme Donut ingredient changes and Hostess ingredient changes.

Let's pour our emotions and efforts into something that truly makes an important difference in people's lives. Every family that has a relative with food allergies in the United States should be informed about the risk for anaphylaxis, how to recognize the symptoms, and what to do when it happens. Where is the outrage about our collective failure to reach those families?? If anything justifies our anger and our outrage, it is this. We can do better than this, and we owe it to all our food allergy angels.

02 December 2016

Food Allergy Friendly Gingerbread House Kit Giveaway!

A&J Bakery llc is giving away FIVE top 8 free allergy friendly gingerbread house kits!!! What a wonderful gift!!!

Send them an email at ajbakery1@gmail.com about a family you know that's having a tough year. FIVE winners will be selected to win a GINGERBREAD HOUSE KIT which is FREE of the #TOP8allergens. They'll ask for the address and will ship them a kit anonymously. They also cover shipping costs (continental US only). The DEADLINE is Friday, December 9, 2016 by 11:59PM EST. Enter your nomination ASAP!!!!

27 November 2016

Food Allergy Info: Generic Epinephrine Injector

With all the talk about Mylan and Epi-pen, there have been many articles about finding alternatives to the Epi-pen. Investigative Reporter Julie Watts did a story about how one can obtain a generic epinephrine auto-injector. It isn't as simple as you might think! The prescription must be written a certain way for the pharmacist to give the generic and not an Epipen. See Julie's news story for more information: Epipen Alternative: The Investigation & Price Check

22 November 2016

Peanut Allergy "Treatment" Leads to Warning from FDA

Interesting article--according to the Regulatory Affairs Professionals Society website, Boston's Antera receives warning letter from FDA about "selling unapproved biologic to treat peanut allergies." Rather than read my spin on it, please click here to read RAPS' article.

16 November 2016

Food Allergy Friendly Food Donations

Temperatures are dropping. There are reports of snow in more northern locations, and people around the U.S. are busy getting ready for Thanksgiving. There are posts in online food allergy discussion groups about how to handle the holidays, how to manage food allergies hosting or visiting for Thanksgiving, and there are recipes for stuffings and fake pecan pies. With all the stress that comes with how to manage food allergies and relatives' lack of awareness or understanding about food allergies, little time is spent talking about the food allergy families whose biggest challenge of the moment is just figuring how to afford allergy safe food to get through the week--any week--not just holidays.

Have you ever been on food stamps or EBT? Or fuel assistance? Or electricity assistance? Or other forms of government assistance? Have you ever had to go to the local food pantry for food for yourself?  If not, consider yourself lucky. FARE states that about 15 million Americans have food allergies, and about 1 in every 13 children under the age of 18. Chances are, some of those Americans with food allergies are facing tough times and aren't able to make ends meet. If you think managing food allergies now is challenging, imagine what it would be like if you could not afford your groceries. Being disappointed that your favorite cookie or cracker or English muffin is now made on shared lines would pale in comparison to problems like struggling to simply afford groceries.

Let's start a new tradition. If you have an extra $5 in the next few weeks or months, consider purchasing an allergy friendly mix or snack by a company like Namaste or Enjoy Life Foods or another super allergy friendly manufacturer, and drop it off to your local food pantry. They may not have food allergy families banging down the doors, but if food allergy families in need knew they possibly could look to food pantries like the rest of the families in need, I think they would be extremely grateful.

There is a wonderful organization in Kansas called the Food Equality Initiative. They focus exclusively on providing safe food for low-income individuals managing celiac disease and food allergies. More people need to follow their example. It's really incumbent on the rest of the food allergy community to step up and support food allergy families in need. To look for food banks or food pantries near you, visit feedingamerica.org or Ample Harvest.

12 November 2016

Food Allergy News Requires Thoughtful Reading

First, I want to say I love Kids With Food Allergies Foundation. They are just about my absolute favorite food allergy organization. The headline for a recent blog post on the Kids with Food Allergies website, however, is SO misleading, in my opinion. 

The headline is "School Staff Know More Than They Think They Do About Treating Anaphylaxis", but when I read through the article, I saw the study surveyed only 143 non-nurse school staff at Colorado schools. That just is not representative of the entire U.S! Colorado might have more vocal food allergy advocates than other states. For me, it does not prove much of anything. Colorado is just one state. There are 49 others in the U.S. 

I wanted to share this headline and point out this discrepancy as a reminder to all of us--as parents of children with food allergies, as individuals managing food allergies, as consumers, as citizens, as adults--that we should not blindly accept and believe headlines. We need to actually read the articles thoughtfully. 
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