Posts tagged: allergies
Food allergies are a serious medical condition. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have any fun, as I hope you can see with this rearrangement of my emergency medication. To learn more about food allergies, please visit foodallergy.org
Please help support its continuing mission by donating to the Walk for Food Allergy.
If you have food allergies, dining out is always a risk. We had a close call our first night in Chicago on a family vacation last month.
After a long day of travel, we got settled into our hotel room and went down to one of the hotel restaurants for a late dinner. It was a Sunday evening, around 9:30, and while the front desk had assured us that the restaurant was open until 11, that turned out to only be half true. The restaurant entrance was blocked off, but the kitchen was serving the full menu to a shared seating area that you entered through the bar.
We’d been concerned about finding food for our not-quite-two-year-old son. Kids’ menus are awfully limited these days, and very heavy on cheese, which he can’t eat. Chicken nuggets are fine once in a while, but only go so far on a ten-day trip. So we were pleasantly surprised to see a Sunbutter, jelly and banana sandwich on the kids’ menu. Because of my severe peanut allergy, we keep peanuts out of the house, so Katie goes to sunflower seed butter and almond butter for toast and sandwiches, and J loves it so much he’ll demand a taste if she’s eating it. Score!
After a very long wait, the waitress finally brought the sandwich, dropped it off saying, “Here’s your PBJ,” and left.
Katie tasted it, and it was in fact peanut butter.
Red alert mode engaged!
As I mentioned, I’m severely allergic to peanuts. We don’t know yet whether J is, but we didn’t want to risk finding out in a hotel in a strange city thousands of miles from home.
The waitress seemed a bit confused by the issue when we finally got her attention (all the while trying to find other things we could feed an increasingly-cranky toddler who thought he was finally going to eat), and we had to point out that yes, the menu specifically said Sunbutter.
They did take the sandwich off the bill, and replaced it with a plain jelly-and-banana sandwich. But it put us on alert for the rest of the week.
The really disturbing thing was that it wasn’t just any sunflower seed butter listed on the menu, but a specific brand, one whose purpose is to be a safe alternative for people who are allergic to peanuts. That’s like telling a diabetic that you have Clemmy’s sugar-free ice cream and handing them Ben and Jerry’s. Or giving someone Everclear to help with their dehydration.
We lucked out, because Katie caught it before J could eat any of it. Really, the restaurant dodged a bullet too: They could have served it to a family with a confirmed allergic child. Imagine how blindsided they’d be when someone silently replaced a peanut-free food with peanuts.
The next morning we talked to the concierge about it. She called the restaurant manager, who was out, but took our room number and my cell number. He called while we were out at lunch. I explained again what had happened on our end, and he said they’d discovered a “gap in training” and were retraining now. He also asked if he could have anything sent to our room, and listed off a few options including food, bottled water, and more. We had just picked up breakfast supplies, and didn’t have a refrigerator in our room, so we only asked for the water.
That evening, we got back to the room to find a full spread on one of the desks. A jar of Sunbutter, a loaf of bread, a plate of single servings of jams and jellies, four place settings with forks, knives, plates, napkins, and stemmed glasses (perfect for a room with a toddler!)…and yes, some bottles of water. And a refrigerator.
J was all over the knives and jars, so we scrambled to get them out of reach and out of sight.
The next morning we opened the refrigerator. Inside we found two bottles of juice, four single serving boxes of milk, and more water! We did use most of it over the course of the week, though we donated the bread to the con suite.
In the end, no one was hurt, the hotel fixed their training, and they went above and beyond what we needed to help us stay safe during our stay. Things worked out about as well as they could have for this sort of mix-up. But it does show the need for greater awareness and education about food allergies.
The Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network provides, among many other programs, resources for the food industry. We’re participating in the October 21 Walk for Food Allergy to raise funds for research, awareness, education and advocacy. Please help us support FAAN’s mission with a tax-deductible donation. Thank you!
Post from K-Squared Ramblings. Copyright © 2010 Kelson Vibber and/or Katherine Foreman.
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Food allergies are no picnic. Please donate to help us raise funds for food allergy research, education, awareness and advocacy.
From this week’s newsletter, Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network is funding a study on suppressing peanut allergy. I’ll be walking to raise funds for the organization next month, and this is just one of the reasons why.
We are pleased to announce that FAAN is funding a final phase of a clinical study focusing on the safety and efficacy of oral and sublingual immunotherapy in children with peanut allergy. The study is led by Robert A. Wood, M.D., a professor of pediatrics and international health and director of Pediatric Allergy and Immunology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore. Dr. Wood’s team aims to better understand the complexities of the mechanisms of desensitization and long-term tolerance. This final phase of the study will enable Dr. Wood and his team to conduct additional laboratory studies that may help researchers understand which patients will respond to these therapies.
FAAN’s Research Grant Program has awarded more than $5 million since 2004 to scientists advancing research in the field of food allergy.
Donate or join our team if you’d like to help!
Someone once asked me if my food allergies — the ones that require me to carry emergency medication so that I can keep breathing if I eat something with peanuts — could be all in my head. I pointed out that they can be diagnosed by a blood test, and asked how my head could influence the results of a test on a vial taken to a lab three states away.
This is just one example of the need to increase awareness of how real and serious food allergies can be. In October, Katie and I will be walking to support the Food Allergy Network’s mission to promote research, education, awareness and advocacy. We’d appreciate your support!
» Donate or Join our Team for the Walk for Food Allergy!
Allergies to nuts, grains, vegetables, seafood and milk are common. Allergies to meat? Much less so. But that’s starting to change.
A few months ago I read about adults (author John Grisham in particular) developing an allergy to red meat after being bitten by ticks.* And not just a low-level allergy like your face turning red — we’re talking full-on hives and anaphylactic** shock, the kind of thing that requires you to carry an Epi-Pen to make sure you keep breathing long enough to reach the emergency room.
Researches have determined that the lone star tick’s bite can cause the body to produce an IgE antibody for a sugar called alphagal, which is found in mammal meat.
The result: from then on, you’re allergic to meat.
CNN calls it mysterious. Allergic Living calls it baffling. It’s certainly weird compared to “usual” allergies, and the fact that the reaction is usually delayed by a few hours makes it hard to diagnose, but we’re ahead of the game in understanding it: Unlike most allergies, we know what causes this one.***
With most allergies, we know the process, but we don’t know what gets the ball rolling to begin with. We know that in people who are allergic to a food, exposure to it causes an IgE antibody reaction that triggers a massive release of histamines that sends the body into some level of shock, but we don’t know why some people have that reaction and others don’t.
There are a lot of ideas being investigated, with varying amounts of supporting evidence, but there’s still nothing we can point to and say: “This caused you to be allergic to nuts” or “That caused you to be allergic to milk.” Advice to parents concerned about keeping their child from developing allergies is all over the map.
That’s why Katie and I are walking in this year’s Walk For Food Allergy. The event raises money for the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network’s mission to support allergy research, spread awareness (you’d be amazed at how many people dismiss allergies as inconsequential or even bogus), provide education and advocacy for people living with food allergies.
Walks are being held across the country over the year. We’ll be walking in the Los Angeles event in October. If you’d like to help, you can donate or join our team here:
*Naturally, this was a few days after I hiked a severely overgrown trail without taking precautions against ticks, so I freaked out a bit, but I also hadn’t found any ticks when I got home from the hike.
**Fun fact: Chrome’s spell-checker doesn’t know “anaphylactic,” and suggested such helpful alternatives as “intergalactic” and “anticlimactic.” Not sure about the former, but I get the impression a lot of viewers suffered “anticlimactic shock” when watching the Lost finale.
***Or at least we know what primes it. There’s still the question of why only some people who are bitten by the lone star tick go on to develop the allergy.
I subscribe to allergy alerts through FAAN. Normally I skim the notices to see if (a) the problem is something I’m allergic to and (b) the product is something I’m likely to buy or eat, or have already bought. A couple of amusing phrases jumped out in this one:
FISH ALLERGY ALERT
April 17, 2012
Nestlé Prepared Foods Company announced today that it is voluntarily recalling two hour codes of STOUFFER’S® Satisfying Servings Lasagna Italiano because the package may contain STOUFFER’S Stuffed Peppers. While the Stuffed Peppers are wholesome, the recipe includes Worcestershire Sauce—which contains anchovy as an ingredient—and there is no Anchovy allergen statement on the Lasagna Italiano package. Consumers who are allergic to fish should not consume this product.
These products were manufactured in December 2011 and, given their popularity, Nestlé believes there may not be much inventory left on supermarket shelves. However, Nestlé is asking consumers to check their freezers for STOUFFER’S Satisfying Servings Lasagna Italiano in the 19 1/8 oz. package, with UPC code 13800-44709. The possibly affected production codes include 1349595513R or 1349595513S. This information can be found on the “proof of purchase” panel, located on the right end flap of the package, below the ingredient statement.
If you find the codes on your product, please call Nestlé at 1-800-392-4057, or email email@example.com for further instructions. Nestlé will provide a replacement coupon to those affected consumers.
There’s just something funny about the way they went out of their way to talk up the product even in the middle of the recall notice!
The Food Allergy Walk went well. There was a good turnout, apparently the highest yet for the Los Angeles event, which is in its fourth year. According to the event website, they raised about $43,000 of the $50,000 they had aimed for, but that’s only online donations. They may get closer once cash and checks are counted. Thank you again to everyone who sponsored us! You helped us raise $1040.05 for the cause ($120 of it offline) between the two of us!
The route was one mile each way along the walking path behind the beach up to the Santa Monica Pier and back. It ended up being overcast and chilly, a far cry from the 77 degrees and sunny predicted a few days ago, but at least it worked out well. Afterward we went to Café Crêpe for lunch.
This weekend, I’m walking to raise funds for research and education in the FAAN Walk for Food Allergy. I have life-threatening allergies myself, and while my son hasn’t shown any signs yet, the medical community is still trying to determine what causes people to develop allergies. It would be great if they find a way to guarantee that he won’t inherit them, or at least to make life safer for him than it has been for me. (More about that in my previous post.)
A huge thank-you to those who have sponsored me so far: Jason, Wayne, Pavana, Marisa, Daniel, Devin, Greg, Damon, Jesse, Lia, Ken, aunt Julianne & Craig, and mom & dad.
It’s coming up this Sunday in Santa Monica, California (near Los Angeles), and FAAN has other walks planned across the country.
You can help with any amount down to US $10. If you’d like to contribute, please donate at my fundraising page.
As I write this, I’m $230 away from the #10 spot on the top 10 list for the Los Angeles walk. Anyone want to help push me into the top 10?