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December 30, 2005

Starbucks Tazo Chai Tea Possible Peanut Contamination

Starbucks Coffee Company is issuing a food allergy alert regarding two lot codes of its Tazo Chai Full Leaf tins due to a possible contamination with peanut protein.

The affected Tazo Chai Full Leaf tins were distributed into a limited number of grocery stores in Arizona, California, Nevada and Hawaii. At this time, there are no more than 50 tins that have not yet been retrieved by the Company.

The Tazo Chai Full Leaf tins were distributed in 3.0 ounce size tins. The two impacted lot codes are L06OCT2005 and L08NOV2005. The lot code can be found on a white sticker with black lettering on the bottom of the tin.

You can contact Starbucks customer relations at 800-235-2883 for more information.

source: peanutallergy.com

Posted by David at 2:29 PM

December 27, 2005

Food Allergy Research Consortium Focuses on Peanut Allergy

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) estimates 4 percent of Americans have potentially life-threatening food allergies. Researchers in a new Food Allergy Research Consortium are developing therapies to treat and prevent peanut allergy.

The consortium, led by Hugh Sampson, M.D., at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City, will receive approximately $17 million over five years from NIAID. In addition, another grant will fund a statistical center to support the consortium – finally, there will be some better data to study. The consortium will conduct basic, clinical and epidemiological studies, and develop educational programs aimed at parents, children and healthcare providers.

The consortium’s first project will be a clinical study to evaluate a potential peanut allergy therapy. This potential therapy is expected to work in much the same fashion as allergy shots in which allergic individuals are given increasing doses of an allergen. The shots stimulate an immune response that protects against future allergic reactions. The existing approach, however, cannot be used in people with peanut allergies due to the risk of life-threatening reactions. To overcome this barrier, Dr. Sampson and Wesley Burks, M.D., of Duke University, Durham, NC, developed modified versions of peanut allergens that have been shown to be safe and effective in animal models.

The consortium will evaluate these modified allergens in human clinical trials led by Robert Wood, M.D., of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore. The clinical and observational studies will take place at five clinical sites.

For information about participating in the Food Allergy Research Consortium’s clinical and observational studies, please call the Mount Sinai School of Medicine Pediatric Allergy Division, at (212) 241-5548. For more information on NIAID visit their web site.

Posted by David at 8:03 AM

December 24, 2005

There are food allergy clues out there - look for them!

I will start by apologizing to some who may be offended by the tone of this entry regarding food allergies. Holiday parties involve lots of foods we don't see at other times of the year, so please forgive me if this is a bit over the edge.

Sometimes I hear or read stories about food allergy reactions and ask myself, "What were they thinking?" Here's one of them from www.foodanddrinkeurope.com ...

Simmons reports that at one Christmas party she attended she innocently helped lay out a few bowls of chicken flavored chips. Believe it or not, it transpired that those chips actually contained real chicken flavoring. As a result one party reveler, who suffered from a severe allergy to all things poultry, ended up being admitted to accident and emergency.

Ok, so you have a poultry allergy (pretty unique) and you say, "Hey, look at these delicious looking 'Chicken Chips,' I think I will try one!" How big a surprise should it be that there is real chicken flavoring in the chips? And, by the way, who ever heard of chicken chips???

Sometimes you have all the information you need right in front of you - you just have to use it.

Happy Holidays to all our readers!

Posted by David at 7:42 AM

December 22, 2005

New food allergen labeling law takes effect Jan 1st

Starting January 1st, food labels will have to disclose in plain language, whether products contain food allergens. The welcome law will take some of the interpretation and uncertainty in understanding the ingredients list. In other words, off the beaten path ingredients, such as casenite, will be clearly labeled (in this case, milk).

The new federal law will require labels to list ingredients from proteins, from any of the eight major food allergens. They include milk, fish, shellfish, peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, wheat and soybeans.

Although this new law helps with buying groceries, it will have an ancillary benefit in that if you ask restaurant workers to check ingredients, it will make it easier for them to report back what they found (or for you to read the label yourself, when there is a question).

Posted by David at 10:51 AM

December 21, 2005

Mayo Clinic on Outgrowing Peanut Allergy

An online Mayo Clinic article discusses growing out of peanut allergies.

According to the article, about 20 - 25 percent of children with peanut allergy will outgrow it but there is a risk that the allergy may return. It is estimated that peanut allergy affects 1 - 2 percent of young children.

Even when a child appears to outgrow peanut allergy, there is a small risk it will recur. A study published in November 2004 suggested that the way to reduce the risk of recurrence is to encourage the child to eat peanuts on a regular basis. This may seem odd advice to parents who have drilled a fear of peanuts into their children. But the study found peanut allergy was much less likely to return in children who ate peanuts at least once a month after developing a tolerance for them than in children who largely avoided peanuts.

Now, that is a scarey thought, feeding my daughter peanuts on a regular basis. I understand the theory but what a huge shift in thinking that would take from both her and us! I look forward to that day.

Remember kids with known peanut allergy (or any other child food allergy) should only be tested by a board-certified allergist before making any conclusions about them outgrowing a food allergy.

Because peanut allergy is the most common cause of anaphylaxis, your child should still continue to carry epinephrine, even if it is determined that your child has outgrown peanut allergy. Better safe than sorry.

Posted by David at 7:46 AM

December 19, 2005

Outgrowing Child Food Allergy Study

Source: Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions

Researchers at the Johns Hopkins Children's Center in a study reported in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology have found that 9 percent of children with child food allergies to almonds, pecans, cashews and other tree nuts outgrow their allergy over time. This is true even for those who've had a severe reaction such as anaphylaxis shock. This conclusion does not include peanuts.

Clinicians can use blood levels of tree nut antibody ( TN-IgE ) as an accurate guideline in estimating the likelihood that a child has outgrown the allergy.

"Allergic reactions to tree nuts as well as peanuts can be quite severe, and they are generally thought to be lifelong," says senior author Robert Wood, director of the Division of Allergy and Immunology at the Children's Center. Our research shows that for some children, however, lifelong avoidance of these nuts, found in countless food products, may not be necessary."

In the United States, an estimated one to two percent of the population is allergic to tree nuts. Tree nuts include almonds, pecans, walnuts, cashews, Brazil nuts, hazelnuts, pine nuts, pistachios and macadamia nuts. Wood and colleagues previously reported that as many as 20 percent of children outgrow peanut allergy and recommended that allergists periodically retest their patients. The current study explored whether the same held true for tree nuts.

Wood and colleagues evaluated 278 children with a known allergy to tree nuts. Nine percent passed oral food challenges, the standard test to prove a child has outgrown a food allergy. Fifty-eight percent of children with TN-IgE levels of 5 kilounits per liter or less also passed the challenge. The study also found that children who are allergic to more than one type of tree nut are unlikely to outgrow their allergy.

"These findings give allergists a safe guideline in deciding whether to advise their patients to continue avoiding tree nuts, or whether it's time to try an oral food challenge to see if they've outgrown the allergy," says Wood. He cautioned that oral food challenges should be presented only under the close supervision of an allergist.

Posted by David at 9:20 AM

December 17, 2005

The Real Facts on Food Allergy Trends?

Its hard to get your arms around the real child food allergy trends because the press offers so many differing views of the data. In some cases, from the same source!

From The Olympian Online article... It's estimated that 2 million children have some sort of food allergy — 600,000 of them to peanuts, says Anne Munoz-Furlong, founder and CEO of the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN). The nonprofit organization in Virginia works to raise awareness of the seriousness of such allergies.

Peanut allergies alone doubled from 1997 to 2002, she said.

From HelenAir ... In the past five years peanut allergies in children have doubled. The estimated number of Americans with food allergies has increased from 6 million to approximately 11 million, according to the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network.

According to FAAN, peanut allergies kill nearly 100 people a year in the United States and account for about 30,000 emergency room visits.

From an online article on Cincinatti.com, some studies estimate that about 1 percent of the U.S. population, or 3 million people, suffer from peanut allergies. Others place the rate closer to 4 percent of the population - about 12 million people.

One report issued in 2003 from the American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology got a lot of media attention this week. It says the number of peanut allergies in children doubled from 1997 to 2002.

Posted by David at 9:15 AM | Comments (1)

December 13, 2005

School Parties with Food Allergies

As parents of children with food allergies, we know how frustrating it is sending one cupcake to a school party or birthday party so our child feels like part of the celebration. How often does the cupcake get smashed or the frosting stick to the container? I found a PERFECT SOLUTION!!! This website offers a unique container that "will hold a frosted cupcake in place with protrusions positioned in such a way that the cupcake will not move within the container if bounced, jiggled, or turned upside down." It's a container designed especially to transport one cupcake!

We have tested this product in our family over and over again. AND IT WORKS! I placed a beautifully frosted egg and wheat free cupcake in the container and carefully closed it. Then, just for fun, my husband and I played football with the container around our kitchen! After some great passes and occasionally a fumble, we surveyed the results. When I opened the container, the cupcake looked as beautiful as it did when I first put it in. I have since sent many a cupcake to school with my food allergic children in their lunchboxes. When the birthday child passes out cupcakes to the rest of the class, my child retrieves the allergy free cupcake from home, perfectly frosted and in tact. I feel so happy to have solved the dilemma "how do you get the frosting to stay on the cupcake instead of all over the Rubbermaid container or Saran Wrap?"

The plastic containers come in different colors and you can easily write your child's name on it with a Sharpie. They are also dishwasher safe. What more could you ask for? If your child isn't yet in elementary school and toting allergy free cupcakes hasn't become an issue, I still encourage you to check out the website. They fit great in diaper bags and can even be stuck on the bottom underneath wipes, bottles and clothes. When it comes cake time, there will be no more "where's the rest of the frosting?" tears. : )

Happy cake eating!

Posted by Ann Marie at 5:33 PM | Comments (1)

December 11, 2005

Food Allergies and Anaphylactic Shock

Some food allergies can create a very serious reaction referred to as Anaphylactic Shock. Anaphylactic Shock is a medial emergency where symptoms may include a feeling of impending doom, warmth or flush, tingling of the palm of hands or lips, faintness, bloating and chest tightness. This condition can progress into seizures, respiratory distress and even shock.

If you've seen Anaphylactic Shock in progress, you'll never forget it - it's a scary situation. THIS is why we take such great care of children who have severe food allergies.

Posted by David at 7:20 PM

December 9, 2005

Confusion at school causes reaction - "Scrape it off"

A local ABC news report described an unusally scarey situtation - a child's reaction due to a peanut allergy. The scarey part wasn't the reaction itself, it was the communication with the school.

The attack came on after she ate part of a sandwich that had contained peanut butter. She says the school cafeteria worker told her a peanut butter and jelly sandwich was her only choice.

Sky Hamilton, Student: "I said 'I'm allergic to it' and she said to scrape it off with a spoon."

Scrape it off with a spoon? Please tell me that didn't really happen!

A spokesperson for the department of education says no one at the school told Sky to simply scrape peanut butter off the sandwich before giving it to her and furthermore, that no one at the school knew that Sky was allergic to peanuts.

The school didn't know? In this day and age, how could that be?

But Sky's mother showed us medical documents with a list of foods her daughter cannot eat. She says the school had a copy of the list.

Jessica Hamilton, Parent: "I've given them print outs of all her allergic reactions. There are statements in the lunch room with all the children's allergic reactions. She number one because she has multiple food allergies."

Ok, now that sounds better. But wait... if the school did have the documents and multiple kids have allergies at the school, how could this happen? Add to that the fact that its December - the kids have been in school for months!

There must be some huge lessons in the details of this story. It sounds like Ms. Hamilton gave the school the information (it was on the wall) but clearly there is a serious miscommunication with the school staff. Maybe a mid-year refresher course for the school is in order? Also, we parents have to accept the fact that we are adding risk by having our children buy lunch from the school lunch room. Packing our own lunches is a safer way to go.

Posted by David at 7:28 AM

December 7, 2005

Holidays with Child Food Allergies

I know the holidays are different for those of us who are parenting children with food allergies. Take for instance, a simple invitation to a gingerbread house making party. My 4th grader of course wants to go with all of her friends. We know the girl who is hosting the party, in fact, my daughter went to her birthday party a couple of years ago. The family is more than willing to "do whatever it takes" to keep my daughter safe. I know they'll listen carefully as I review how to use an Epi-pen and what to do in case of an emergency. But does it mean that they won't have candies containing nuts or traces of peanuts? Even the ever popular holiday M & M's and chocolate bells? Does it mean they'll forgo the egg-containing frosting for something more likely to fall apart? I want my daughter to be independent. But my gut is a little bit afraid.

My daughter is more than ready for this. We have taught her to read ingredients diligently. She's not one to take chances or to do something "just to fit in." I trust her. But it'll still take some forward planning. I have the first phone call into the parents hosting the party. My daughter knows there will be candies and frosting there that she won't be able to eat. I am prepared to send a bag of safe candies she can use to decorate the gingerbread house. And I trust that she will use only those decorations at the party that she feels comfortable with. I wish I could volunteer to bring enough peanut-free candy for all 12 girls, but then hey, that's like hosting the party!

I know in the end she will come home from the party with a huge smile, fun stories and a great gingerbread house decoration. And I know together, we will again grow, her with her independence and me with my letting go. Hey, isn't that what parenting is all about anyway?

Posted by Ann Marie at 5:32 PM

December 6, 2005

Use common sense when it comes to foods

The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN) has a great service of email alerts when a manufacture discovers a mislabeling on one of their products. You should subscribe to this service.

Sometimes, however, we see these notices and ask, "Yeah, but what parent with a food allergy child would buy this stuff?" Here's an example

Special Allergy Alert Notice


September 14, 2005

Dancing Deer Baking Co. is recalling its 20-oz. Maple Pumpkin Cranberry Cake due to undeclared pecans. Maple Pumpkin Cranberry Streusel Cakes were mislabeled with a Maple Pumpkin Cranberry Cake label which did not contain pecans.

Now, I'm sure that the people at Dancing Deer Baking Co. are very nice (I mean, just look at the company name). It's just that with 8 plus years experience of keeping our kids safe, we tend to stick with either the major food companies or the real specialists. If Kraft or Hersheys, for instance, put something on their label, you can be pretty sure its not a mistake (yes, I know they've made some mistakes too, not very often though). The same is true for Cherry Brook Kitchen, their business RELIES on getting the ingredients right every time.

So, if your child has a severe food allergy, make good choice about what foods you bring into your home and avoid the panic when you get the FAAN email alerts.

Posted by David at 8:55 AM | Comments (1)

December 5, 2005

Breastfeeding and Infant Food Allergies

In most cases, the best nutrition for an infant is from the mother, via breast milk. Breast milk contains antibodies that help protect the baby from infections and reduces the possibility of future allergies.

That said, since the protein from cow’s milk can cross into breast milk, it’s possible for breast-fed infants to have symptoms of a cow’s milk allergy. The mother can eliminate all natural dairy products from her diet and adds alternative supplements. Keep in mind, an infant could also react to formula. Ask your pediatrician to prescribe one specifically for your child. Most allergists will recommend that infants with milk allergy stay away from dairy for 2 years. Then small amounts of milk can be reintroduced into the child's diet with doctor supervision.

Posted by David at 8:22 AM

December 4, 2005

Most Common Food Allergies & Finding Help

The most common food allergens are not always the biggest problem. According to the AAAAI, six foods cause almost all food allergy reactions: milk, eggs, peanuts, soy, wheat and tree nuts.

Not all reactions are anaphylactic. Reactions may include diarrhea, vomiting, colic, abdominal pain, constipation, bronchitis, asthma, sneezing, coughing, eczema, hives, excessive crying, sweating, sleeplessness, and headache.

When our 3rd child was 6 months old, she spent many a night screaming and we had no idea why. Turns out she was allergic to milk and, because she was breastfed, was getting that milk via mom's diet. Make sure you get proper medical care and advice. Our family doc at the time was not that well educated on child food allergies.

Our experience is that your family practitioner is not enough, you need a specialist. Find a recommended allergist in your area and develop a good relationship. Your allergist can be a trusted advisor through the many trials and tribulations of raising a child with severe food allergies.

Posted by David at 8:20 AM | Comments (1)

December 3, 2005

Growing out of child food allergies?

According to the Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, 80-85% of kids allergic to eggs, milk, and soy outgrow the reaction by the age of 10. When it comes to peanut allergy, the fact is that only about 20% of children grow out of them.

An allergist can test your child, and if the reaction levels are high, then he/she can be rechecked a year later. If the allergist's test shows that your child has no, or even low, antibody levels for a particular allergen, then YOUR DOCTOR can introduce the food right there in the office. That way if your child reacts to the food, he/she will be in the very good hands of a professional.

Posted by David at 10:11 AM

December 2, 2005

More on Food Buddy Card - some issues

I went out to FoodAllergyBuddy.com and tried the service. It works but not without flaws.

First, don't try it with Firefox. You need Internet Explorer. Second, they do ask for an email address and personal info and upon further investigation I found this statement in their privacy policy...

Your personal information may be used for marketing and promotional purposes by Supermarketguru.com and may be shared with our business partners or companies that have been prescreened by Supermarketguru.com.

Finally, the output is cute but hardly ground breaking. Here's an example output.

Food Buddy.JPG

In fact, I would go as far as to say the card may complicate things at the restaurant. In my opinion, the picture, the disclamer and National Restaurant Association logo takes away attention from the vital information. Finally, when you go to print, the page with the 8 cards gets cut off on the bottom and starts another page. It's not formatted correctly.

So, go ahead and play with the tool if you want. You may find it useful; just expect a few glitches in the process.

Posted by David at 12:17 PM

Child Food Allergies - a Growing Threat?

In his article, Doctors Debate the Risks of Common Food Allergies, ABC news report Marc Lallanilla talks about the increasing number of children who have developed allergies to peanuts and other common foods, and the difficulty in finding the cause.

We've heard the reports of peanut allergies in children increasing twofold in less than 10 years. Now about four percent of the U.S. population, estimated at more than 11 million people, have food allergies. Maybe increasing awareness is causing a spike in reports of allergies?

Awareness may have a lot to do with it. Both parents and doctors are increasingly aware of child food allergies. Is this what is driving the statistical increase in child food allergies? As in any other topic, there are differing points of view.

Posted by David at 8:42 AM

Child Food Allergy Buddy Card

SANTA MONICA, Calif., Nov. 30 /PRNewswire/ -- With the recent death of a 15 year-old Canadian teenager who died as a result of her food allergy, Phil Lempert, known by both consumers and the food industry as the "Supermarket Guru"(R) and an expert analyst on consumer, marketing and food safety trends, is calling for action.

Today Lempert calls on parents and children to openly discuss their food allergies and realize there's no shame in their affliction. "People are often embarrassed by their food allergies and therefore don't tell their friends or colleagues," said Lempert. "They don't want to be perceived as different or as 'high maintenance,' but this shame can lead to tragic results."

The Canadian teen, who was allergic to peanuts, died after kissing her boyfriend who 9 hours earlier had eaten a peanut butter sandwich. Initial reports indicate that he was not aware of her allergy.

Lempert adds, "Teens have the extreme pressure to fit-in with their peers, but they need to understand it's not worth dying for. If they tell their friends, they can help in protecting them from harmful foods. Parents need to encourage their children to be open about their allergies."

Recognizing the need to for those afflicted to better manage their allergies, last year, Lempert launched the Food Allergy Buddy (FAB) Dining Card, a free and personalized ingredient card that restaurant patrons present to waiters and chefs detailing and easily communicating their food allergies. Subsequently, chefs alter their recipes accordingly to ensure patron food safety.

There's no cost for the service or the business-sized cards, which are available in adult and children's designs. FAB users don't have any confidentiality concerns as the information entered into the FAB system is not collected. More than 100,000 consumers use the service. Consumers can visit www.foodallergybuddy.com to learn more.

More than 1.5 million Americans are allergic to peanuts and according to the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network it's estimated that as many as 200 people die each year from food allergy-related reactions.

SOURCE SupermarketGuru.com

Posted by David at 8:12 AM

December 1, 2005

Why is peanut allergy on the rise?

An(UPI) article released this week stated that children in the USA are more likely to develop peanut allergy than those in developing countries and researchers can only hypothesize as to why.

Now about 1 percent of the U.S. population younger than 18 have peanut allergy (this does not include other food allergies). That rate is higher than most developing countries.

So why is this happening?
Some possibilities include: 1) increasingly clean U.S. homes where children's immune systems are tested less often in the early years, using roasting of rather than boiling of peanuts to cook them, and avoidance of peanuts until children are at least 3 years old.

Posted by David at 7:23 PM