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.

24 April 2015

Food Allergy Bullying Must Stop

In the wee hours of the morning the other day, I received a heart moving message from a mom of young man with life threatening peanut allergy. Kenya Baldwin Swiss asked me to share her message to bring attention to the very serious problem of food allergy bullying. I am sharing her message below and have kept the names in the message as she requested. The pain is palpable. Food allergy bullying must be stopped.

"Over the past 4 years, especially during baseball season, the Food Allergy Bullying cranks up in high gear. The insults, the players & parents with no conscience, allowing a player, team captain--a kid, to feel he's unsafe. Those who have watched silently & not stood up and to those who seem to find pleasure in being hurtful and more disturbing thinking it's funny to purposefully have peanuts/treenuts that are life-threatening around Jordan Swiss. Is it so important to make your point, that you can't omit nuts for the 2 hours of a baseball game? Are you really willing to risk Jordan's life? You have ridiculed with no remorse. You know who you all are. To you I say......you ought to be ashamed...

To those who understand, we hope you will help us raise awareness by sharing this post. Jordan's journey will be going public very soon. It starts in sharing....we hope his story can help kids who have been dealing with food allergy bullying. We hope you can help his goal to raise awareness by sharing our post."

23 April 2015

Food Allergy Awareness Week Twitter Party - 2015

In case you missed it, here is the invitation for the 2015 Food Allergy Awareness Party. Be sure to use #foodallergy during the party in order to participate and for partygoers to see your tweets.

If you are interested in entering the prize giveaways, you must RSVP to the party invitation and complete the entry form linked there.

Below are my Twitter Party tips, in case you are a little unsure how to "attend" one. It's easy!

Twitter Party Tips

If you're new to Twitter, attending a Twitter Party can seem pretty complicated and even a bit daunting. Fear not! A couple of easy steps, and you'll be ready to watch the Tweets fly, and maybe...before the hour's up, you might even decide to Tweet too!

Basic Twitter Tips
If you think you might want to Tweet during the party, you will need to get a Twitter account. It's free and easy to do. They don't require much personal info at all to open an account. Just visit www.twitter.com and click on the Sign Up button on the right. You will be asked to provide your full name, a user name, a password and your email address. Having a Twitter account means you can Tweet a message to everyone and anyone on Twitter, provided you keep it to 140 characters or less in length. You can follow other people on Twitter who you think have interesting things to say and likewise, people can follow you! If someone unseemly follows you, you can always block them.

When you rest your cursor on a tweet on your screen, you'll see you have the option to reply or retweet. If you read a tweet that you think is worth repeating to your followers, you can retweet. You'll see the tweet with a RT in front, ready to send. Hitting reply automatically puts the screenname of the Twitter user you are replying to at the beginning of your Tweet. For example, if you reply to a Tweet from me, your reply would begin "@FoodAllergyBuzz". If you see a Tweet you want to save, click on the star to "favorite" it.

Attending a Twitter Party
So, you've signed up for Twitter. You get how to reply, retweet, favorite, and tweet. How do you participate in the Twitter Party? A few important things will make it easy for you.

First, you need to know what the hashtag is. For the Food Allergy Awareness Week Twitter Party, we use #foodallergy. That means all tweets intended for the Food Allergy Twitter Party must include "#foodallergy" in that 140 character tweet or the people at the party won't see it! Using the hashtag enables everyone there to filter out tweets unrelated to the party. The tweets tend to come fast and furious during Twitter parties. It can be difficult to keep up. The last thing you need is unrelated Tweets interspersed with Twitter Party Tweets. That'll just confuse you and make your eyes go buggy!

Twitter Search
If you want to keep it simple, use Twitter Search. You can just type #foodallergy into the search box on the right side of your twitter page about a third of the way down. That brings you "real time" search results for tweets with #foodallergy. Sometimes it does not refresh as fast as you'd like, and you'll find it's difficult to keep up because while you're waiting for your search results to refresh, people are still tweeting away. It keeps things simple and uncluttered, though, and you can keep your Twitter page open in a separate window in case you wish to Tweet, Retweet, or Reply.

Twitter Dashboards
If you are comfortable with a very minimal amount of learning an application/tool, try a Twitter Dashboard, such as Tweetdeck or Tweetgrid. There are many. I find using a Twitter dashboard makes it easier to keep track of replies, direct messages, and #foodallergy tweets simultaneously. I recommend Tweetdeck--it's free and simple to use. For the party itself, I recommend using 3 columns: Mentions, Direct Messages, and a column for #foodallergy search results. That way, you can see all of the relevant info simultaneously.

That's my quick and dirty lesson on how to attend a Twitter Party. I am sure I am leaving out quite a bit, but hopefully this is enough to get you started!  If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to email me jenniferATfoodallergybuzz.com--I'll reply as quick as I can. Hope to see you at the party!  

22 April 2015

Food Allergen Test for Tree Nuts Now Available

I spotted an article about Neogen's new tree nut test last week and have been meaning to share this info with all of you. I got a little excited reading about it, because one of the reasons we see more peanut-free foods than tree nut-free (or nut-free) foods at the grocery store is because there hasn't been a good test to verify that no tree nuts are present in a food. Over the years, companies like Maplehurst have told me that there are no tree nuts in the facility but they weren't able to test and therefore did not feel completely comfortable putting that on that label.

Now, Neogen has launched a new test that can detect 6 tree nuts within ten minutes of extraction. This is really exciting! According to the Food Quality News article, "The test helps food manufacturers in cleaning validations or verification of existing procedures to prevent cross-contamination of tree nuts within manufacturing facilities."

18 April 2015

Food Allergies Rock! (Thanks Kyle Dine!)

If you have children with food allergies who are elementary school age or younger, and Kyle Dine has a concert within driving distance from you, I urge you to make plans to attend! Kyle is such a charming and engaging performer and really connects with kids. His show is educational and fun, and it's a great opportunity for children with food allergies to be surrounded by...other children with food allergies! How often does that happen?!

We had a chance to see lots of other children with food allergies, and many parents of children with food allergies too--a room full of people who truly understand food allergies. Wow!

It was such a treat to see Kyle's show today in Norwood, Massachusetts! A big thanks to Kyle for the wonderful work he does, and to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, New England Chapter for having Kyle come visit Norwood, MA.

12 April 2015

Food Allergy Life Balance

I have found nothing else in life as inspiring as my children. When my younger son was diagnosed with life threatening food allergies, I made it my mission to learn as much as I could to keep him safe, and make life as good as possible for him despite the food allergies. Blogging has given me a way to share information with others managing food allergies and to express myself in writing. On those rare occasions when I construct a blog post that really strikes home with others, I feel proud and gratified. There is a sense of connection, and I enjoy it. When I write a blog post, I generally try to focus on the positive and  good things that are allergen-free, or the promise of things that may make life easier for those with food allergies. You may have noticed, however, from time to time I do write about the need for better labeling or avoiding cross-contamination; I guess I like a healthy vent every now and again! (who doesn't!?)

If you read food allergy blogs or belong to food allergy groups on Facebook, you'll read quite a few posts about how challenging life with food allergies is, and it's true! It can be difficult, frustrating, and stressful, and the more food allergies you have to manage, the harder it can be. Food allergies require constant vigilance, so there is never really a break, but it is important to try to keep a balance so food allergies don't become overwhelming. Food allergies should not rule your life!

If you find yourself feeling down or frustrated about life with food allergies (or life in general), please take a few minutes--12 minutes and 46 seconds to be exact!--to learn about one young man's "Philosophy for a happy life". It's pretty amazing!

11 April 2015

Food Allergen Detection Research

Did you see the article New Way to Detect Peanut Contamination? For those managing peanut allergies, it's an intriguing read! A study was recently published in the Journal of Near Infrared Spectoscopy regarding a new technology used by researchers in Spain and France. Apparently, there is a form of infrared spectroscopy called "NIR hyperspectral imaging". According to the article, "This analytical technique detects specific molecules based on their absorption and reflection of light at at near infrared wavelengths." Peanut powder generates different spectra than other foods, and by using NIR hyperspectral imaging, scientists are able to detect peanut in individual pixels. Cropsite.com's article explains it far better than I can, but this research sounds very promising!

09 April 2015

Food Allergy Awareness Week Twitter Party May 10: Save the date!

This will be Food Allergy Buzz's 8th year organizing and hosting a Twitter Party to bring attention to food allergies, using the hashtag #foodallergy, during Food Allergy Awareness Week. As in the past, food allergy friendly businesses are welcome to show their support by contributing prizes which will be given away during the party. The date will be May 10, 2015; time to be determined but rest assured, it will be hours after those Mother's Day brunches!

Please contact me at jennifer AT foodallergybuzz DOT com with any questions or for additional info. Sponsors names will be included on official electronic party invitation.

Stay tuned for the invitation and be sure to RSVP in order to be included in for possible prize.
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