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July 31, 2007

One in Five Households Now Has a Food Allergic Family Member

The Wall Street Journal completed a food allergy poll with Harris Interactive. The survey of over 2,800 adults indicates about one in five American households includes at least one person who suffers from food allergies.

32% described their food allergy was very serious or life threatening, however, only two-thirds of these serious allergy sufferers say they inquire about how foods are prepared and informing managers about their allergy when dining out. I'm not sure what the other third is thinking - maybe they just enjoy rolling the dice or frequent trips to the ER?

Get this... 44% of the severely allergic respondents said that they suffered an allergic reaction to food while dining out because they were not informed or misinformed about the ingredients in a meal at a restaurant. Wouldn't you think that would be a high enough number to drive everyone to inform restaurant staff about his/her food allergy?

Part of me thinks polls like this have limited value - how many of those folks really have a food allergy? For those of us managing a clinically diagnosed severe food allergy, we just cannot imagine going out to eat and simply hoping that what we read on the menu is enough to go by when ordering a food allergen safe meal.

Posted by David at 3:42 PM

July 30, 2007

Taking a Peanut Allergy to a Ballgame

I went to a ballgame with my food allergic 11 year old daughter last week and before the game we enjoyed a fun dinner for two. It made me think about how things with her peanut allergy have changed for us over the years.

My oldest daughter likes baseball and steak. When I offered to take her downtown for a Padres game and wonderful steak dinner, she lit up like a Christmas tree. Of course going to a ballgame means peanuts; lots and lots of peanuts (did I mention she is allergic?). Add to that dining out a high end restaurant (forget a menu with a full list of ingredients) and you've got a possible sticky situation.

Now, if you've been reading ChildFoodAllergy.com for awhile, you know that we tend to err on the safe and reasonable side of things. We don't compare peanuts to rat poison and we don't think the whole world should change its way of living just for our daughters. This outing pushed the boundaries of my regular standards.

I made a reservation and let them know about the nut allergy then. We arrived at The Palm and our hostess, Sarah, treated us well. She told both our server and the chef about the nut allergy. Kim, our server, brought the sourdough bread because she knew there were no nuts in it. We asked about the steak, salad and fries and were assured all were safe - we were off to a great start. The beer (and soda) were cold and the food was excellent. **** (four stars)

Then came the ballgame. Look, baseball and nuts just go together and my buddy's seats are unbelievable - no nosebleed section for us today. We approached the whole experience with a sense of excitement and in a relaxed fashion. If I stressed over the allergy, my daughter would have picked up on that right away.

So, here's what we did. We strapped the epi-pens on and found our seats. When we got there, I struck up a friendly conversation with the couple behind us. They were having a great time and were happy to see a youngster there to enjoy the game - they were pulling for her to catch a ball tossed into the stands by a player on his way to the dugout. We talked for awhile and then I mentioned my daughter's severe peanut allergy. I said, "Can I ask a favor of you?" The usual polite response is "Sure" and that is exactly what they said. "My daughter has a severe peanut allergy. If she comes in contact with one, we'll likely end up at the hospital tonight. I'm sure you are planning on having some at the game tonight, could I just ask that you be really careful with the shells and maybe put them in a bag instead of tossing them on the floor?" The woman said, "Oh, I'm not having any nuts tonight." The gentleman responded, "So, I can have them, just don't toss them down?" That's right. "Okay, no problem."

Now, I know not all baseball fans would be that receptive. Had the people behind us been callous toward the food allergy, we would have simply found other seats. It would not be worth the risk of someone experimenting with my daughters peanut allergy. This night went perfectly (well, except she didn't walk away with a game ball). I am so thankful for these times with my daughters. Soon enough, they won't want to spend all this time with dear ol' dad.

Any restaurant that treats the child food allergy community well deserves a plug. A bit about The Palm... many locations across the US. Been in biz for over 80 years and renowned for its aged USDA prime steaks, jumbo lobsters, and warm smiles.

Posted by David at 9:24 AM | Comments (2)

July 24, 2007

Divvies Gets Some Good Press

Our friends over at Divvies got some good press earlier this month. Read the story here.

Its great to see these allergen free food companies making such progress. Its true that these snacks cost more. For our family, they are a blessing when it comes to being able to take a quick, allergen-free snack on the go.

Posted by David at 10:45 AM | Comments (1)

July 19, 2007

This May Hurt A Little - A Story of an Anaphylactic Reaction

I found an interesting and somewhat entertaining article online from The Independent, a UK based news site. I think you will appreciate it. Double splendid.

What's behind the rise in allergic reactions?

Steve Rowland didn't even have any allergies. Then an anaphylactic attack nearly killed him. Severe reactions like his are on the rise in Britain - so what's causing them?

Plenty of other things could have killed me over the years: stress, high blood pressure, liver disease due to heavy drinking, injuries sustained in misjudged pub fights due to heavy drinking, my wife garnishing my food with shards of glass due to my heavy drinking. But not this - surely I couldn't be dying from an allergic reaction? Bar hay fever, I had never shown intolerance towards any-thing. In fact, I had always had a slight disdain for people who said they were allergic to wheat or milk or peanuts or shellfish. Yet here I was in A&E, with a nurse massaging my thigh, preparing it for a shot of adrenalin two hours after I had been eating cockles. I had a steroid drip in one arm and an oxygen mask on.

"This may hurt a little."

"Uhthonemine," I said, meaning I don't mind. Speaking properly had become a problem: my tongue was several times its usual size and my lips had taken over my face, which was decorated in an exotic-looking rash. It took immense concentration and will to swallow...

read the entire article

Posted by David at 2:34 PM