Food Allergy Counseling

Food Allergy Counseling
Sloane Miller, Food Allergy Counselor (Picture © Noel Malcolm 2013)

Friday, October 30, 2009

Amy's Kitchen, Slogan Contest

You don't see this every day, so I thought I'd pass along to you. I'm sure many of you enjoy Amy’s Kitchen's products. Now you can help them with their company slogan. The below comes from Amy’s Kitchen:

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Dear Amy's fans,

Amy’s Kitchen is celebrating its 22nd birthday this year. Believe it or not, after all those years in business, Amy’s has no official slogan! The closest thing the company has to a tagline is “Healthy eating for busy people.”

Amy’s needs a slogan! And we need your help to spread the word.

We’d love it if you could ask your readers to tell us what phrase, word, jingle, or rhyme encapsulates Amy’s Kitchen for them (in 15 words or less). The winner will receive $500 worth of Amy’s products!

To enter, send your readers to Amy’s Kitchen or search for "Amy's Go Organic" on www.facebook.com. Entries must be received by February 1, 2010.

We can’t wait to see what your readers come up with!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Vegan Soul Kitchen, Byrant Terry

I saw Bryant Terry give a speech at the 2009 Natural products Expo East. His talk was about food justice, a cause near and dear to my social worker heart. (Here’s a 2003 article on food justice and Terry’s other book and website Eat Grub.) He's written a new cookbook and his publisher sent me a copy Vegan Soul Kitchen. It's “...Alice Waters meet Melvin Van Peebles.” An easy on the wallet, high in the veggies, all-out healthy cookbook wherein every recipes comes with a song suggestion to blare whilst cooking.

For the food allergic and food intolerant set (we allergic girls and guys, and food intolerant dudes and dudettes), Terry stresses an important life lesson: “...pay close attention and listen to [your] body to see what it needs (or should avoid)."

And then later, related more to the vegan diet "...No single way of eating is perfect for everyone. In fact, because our bodies are so dynamic, no single diet is perfect for any one throughout his or her life. Our relationship with food should be fluid, shifting as we change.”

Yes! Also he encourages playing with his recipes. So, as many include some pastry flour for thickeners and some nuts and nutmeats as garnish or recipe additions, take those out and play! I made the dish that inspired the book, citrus collard greens. Collards have seemed daunting in the past because of how long it was suggested you cook them. (This week, The New York Times has a recipe up this week that are quick cook as well.) Terry uses a classic French method of blanching then shocking them to keep that nice green color and adding some citrus, crucial in digesting iron to it’s optimum. The result is super tasty!



Photo courtesy of Vegan Soul Kitchen:
With the permission of DaCapo LifeLong Press, here is Terry’s recipe and a picture of the end result. 


Citrus Collards with Raisins Redux

Yield: 4 servings

Soundtrack: “Sankofa” by Hypnotic Brass Ensemble and Tony Allen from Allen Chop Up and “Sankofa” by Cassandra Wilson from Blue Light ’Til Dawn

This recipe was the seed of Vegan Soul Kitchen . . . a brand new classic, if you will, dedicated to my home city in the mid-South—Memphis, Tennessee.

Coarse sea salt
2 large bunches collard greens, ribs removed, cut into a chiffonade, rinsed and drained (pages 4 and page 8).
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2⁄3 cup raisins
1⁄3 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

• In a large pot over high heat, bring 3 quarts of water to a boil and add 1 tablespoon salt. Add the collards and cook, ­uncovered, for 8 to 10 minutes, until softened. Meanwhile, prepare a large bowl of ice water to cool the collards.

• Remove the collards from the heat, drain, and plunge them into the bowl of cold ­water to stop cooking and set the color of the greens. Drain by gently pressing the greens against a colander.

• In a medium-size sauté pan, combine the olive oil and the garlic and raise the heat to medium. Sauté for 1 minute. Add the collards, raisins, and 1⁄2 teaspoon salt. Sauté for 3 minutes, stirring frequently.

• Add orange juice and cook for an additional 15 seconds. Do not overcook (collards should be bright green). Season with additional salt to taste if needed and serve immediately. (This also makes a tasty filling for quesadillas.)

Chiffonade
The chiffonade cut is used to produce very fine threads of leafy fresh herbs as well as greens and other leafy vegetables. First, remove any tough stems that would prevent the leaf from being rolled tightly (reserve them for stocks or salads). Next, stack several leaves, roll them widthwise into a tight cylinder, and slice crosswise with a sharp knife, cutting the leaves into thin strips.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Nut-Free, Lipstick

The question of nut-free cosmetics, specifically lipstick, comes from an Allergic Girl reader and it's one that I've written about before.

My first thoughts were Almay and other drug store brands that don't use high-end expensive nutty ingredients. Or a place like Giella that custom creates cosmetic blends. (Very cool, I know and not more expensive than Chanel or other high-end department store brands).

What do you think? What have you used?

From reader:

Hi: I saw your website and was intrigued. It's my husband that has the nut allergy, but I also have the fish/melon-and-other vegetables allergy.

But my main concern is nuts in cosmetics. I've finally found makeup I can wear without breaking out (Bare Escentials) because I have extremely sensitive skin and eyes, but their lipgloss must have some kind of nuts. Even though I wrote to the company and they say it doesn't, their lipstick does, so there must have been some kind of contamination in the processing, or the person I e-mailed is uninformed, or they are not as careful about what is considered 'nuts' (I didn't realize the shea butter connection, for example--that's in everything!).

Anyway, are you aware of a list of cosmetics that are nut-free you could refer me to? I'm mostly interested in the lipsticks as that seems to be the problem.

I'd be very grateful for any assistance you could provide me.

NYC Food Allergy Poster, Lappin Testimony

Here's a copy of the testimony of Council Member Jessica Lappin at last week's food allergy poster open hearing.

Testimony of Council Member Jessica Lappin

Department of Health and Mental Hygiene

Proposed language for educational food allergy poster.

October 23, 2009

My name is Council Member Jessica Lappin, and I represent City Council District 5, which includes the Upper East Side and Roosevelt Island.

In March, the Mayor signed into law Introduction 818, which required the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to create a poster containing information on food allergies. As the author of that legislation, I am here today to express my opposition to the proposed language for the food allergy poster.

The implementation of this bill, and what we are here today to discuss, is a very personal issue for me. Both my husband and my son suffer from food allergies. However, my situation is far from unique. The National Center for Disease Control estimates that 12 million Americans have food allergies. That amounts to 6% of children under the age of 3, and about 4% of the overall population. Food allergies are also on the rise. Between 1997 and 2007, food allergies among young people in industrialized nations increased by 18%. From this information, we can assume that restaurants in New York City will be dealing with food allergic customers on a more frequent basis.

When my family eats at a restaurant, I don’t worry that my husband will suddenly forget his allergy and order shrimp. What worries me is that someone in the kitchen will go from handling shellfish to handling my husband’s food. Or my son’s. It’s the threat of cross-contamination from someone who doesn’t understand the risks that worries me. And there is significant evidence to suggest that food service workers do not have a sufficient understanding of food allergies. A recent study revealed some worrisome information: 24% of New York City restaurant workers thought that consuming a small amount of allergen would be safe; 54% considered a buffet safe if kept clean; 25% thought that removing an allergen from a fully cooked meal was safe. I am sure that some of the food allergy experts here today will talk more specifically about this or other studies. My point is simply to illustrate that all of this data points to a real need for effective educational tools for food service workers.

If we are to accomplish the goal of this legislation, to bring down the overall number of anaphylaxis reports in the city, especially those that result in death, we need to educate all food service workers about the severity of food allergies, and reinforce this information at all possible turns. The food allergy poster that is under discussion is just such a vehicle for this information, and is a tool for reinforcement. We need to get it right the first time.

As it stands, the proposed language for the food allergy poster is not a comprehensive educational restaurant poster. In fact, the proposed poster is focused on customer service, as evidenced by language that specifically targets restaurant servers. That is a huge flaw as it ignores the many other instances at which food can become contaminated. A comprehensive educational poster needs to address food servers, preparers, and any employee involved in the handling of food.

A poster that addresses all employees involved in the handling of food needs to 1) address food handling safety issues, providing specific instructions on how to prepare food with care and attention for a food allergic customer 2) make clear those situations in which it is unacceptable to serve food to someone with food allergies 3) highlight the frequency with which food allergies occur and 4) highlight the gravity of food allergies.

I am also concerned that the Department of Health is implementing Local Law 17 in a way other than what was approved by both the New York City Council and the Mayor. The bill that was signed into law specified that any food service establishment that violates this law shall be subject to a fine no greater than one hundred dollars per violation.

However, according to the Department, violators will be charged $100 per day, and such penalty shall be doubled if the respondent is found in default. This concerns me because this legislation was the product of an effort involving many stakeholders, including food allergy experts, restaurant owners, and many of my colleagues in the Council. Changing the violation structure now is not what was discussed or approved. I respectfully request that the Department of Health please stick to the language that was agreed upon and the language that was approved by the legislative body of our city.

I hope that after the Department of Health hears what food allergy experts and concerned citizens have to say, that you will incorporate the changes suggested, and fulfill the true aim of Local Law17.

Thank you.





Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Perilla, NYC

Since it opened in spring 2007, Chef Harold Dieterle's (of one of first winners of Top Chef) restaurant Perilla has been getting great reviews; and last spring, my dear friend had her bday brunch there. You can read about the brunch here. After dining there in March, co-owner and hostess Alicia had said in our email exchange (I had written a thank you): “Hope you visit us again soon. Next time we will challenge the chef to create something fantastic for you!”

Flash forward to about ten days ago. After a late afternoon food panel at NYU's Fales Library (with Delores Custer; Harold Mcgee; Florent Morellet; Sara Moulton; Fabio Parasecoli; and Moderator: Clark Wolf) I headed over with Shari Bayer and Terri Sheridan for a work/social dinner.

Two days prior, I looked over Perilla’s menu, isolated two items (lamb and duck) that looked easy to modify and emailed Alicia. She emailed back that the Chef said: [sic] “lamb yes.... just ask about mustard seeds....prob need to sub something for orzo. Duck yes....no chili jam...ask [Sloane] about dragonfruit...although it is in the cactus family just to play it safe.”

Love that direct communication.

I entered Perilla still cautious, as I always am with a new restaurant, but knowing I had done my part to communicate my food allergy needs early, clearly and directly. We were greeted by Alicia who assured me they were all ready for me. Yay! We had an early dinner reservation at 630pm and we were seated in a spacious leather banquet with a full view of the room. Loved our seats! Going early was helpful because by about 7pm the place was jammed and hopping, even in a recession.

Perilla draws an attractive, downtown crowd with some families (including Alicia’s adorable son and husband and some friends with their babies), couples on dates, groups; truly a mix of everything and everyone, all looking happy. The buzz was great, the lighting attractive and our waiter Hunter, a tall cutie, said he totally understood my needs because his BF in Cali has severe nut allergies. Always helpful when someone has a friend with similar concerns.

I confirmed with Hunter that I was having the lamb and tried to confirm some of the ingredients in the Tasting of Colorado Lamb dishes (grilled rack, crispy braised belly, homemade cheese & parsley sausage). Hunter reported that Chef would only say that everything was safe for me given my needs, but he would not give me the exact ingredients. I can respect that a chef doesn’t want to give away ingredients but it does make me a little bit more nervous.

I had to make a choice: trust that the Chef knew what he was doing and trust my process (as outlined above and here) or skip eating altogether because the chef wouldn’t tell me every last ingredient. (In years gone by, I might have skipped eating. I see no shame in doing that. Bottom line: if you don’t feel safe, don’t eat.)

However, I felt safe enough. I decided to go with trusting that the Chef, co-owner Alicia and server Hunter were looking out for me and that my process works. I also made sure my dining companions knew what to do in case of an allergic girl emergency, where my medication was and how to help me if I needed it. (Terri’s son has a severe peanut allergy so she knows the whole drill. Thanks again Terri!)

I didn’t order an app, because there wasn’t one that I saw that could be easily modified. Chef sent an app out, on him. A salad of fall veggies that was totally safe and allowed me to join my app-eating companions. Very cool, Chef. My entree of lamb arrived all scrumptious and safe and I had some yummy sorbet for dessert. All very happy happy.

Chef appeared table-side soon after the entrees were served to make sure I was okay. Super sweet and super cool. We had a nice long chat about food allergies and dining out. Chef underscored how grateful he was that I gave him some notice before coming in. He said he was happy to make menu adjustments especially when given advance notice (a day or two by email,alicia@perillanyc.com or opentable.com is fine). We talked about what I could eat on my next visit. For example, there’s a lamb burger at the bar. It has breadcrumbs but Chef said if I gave him some notice he’d make some without for me. Rock on, Perilla!

I will def go back again and hope to add Perilla to my list of regular allergic girl haunts.

Perilla Restaurant
9 Jones Street
New York, NY 10014
Phone: 212.929.6868
Fax: 212.929.6882
Owners
Alicia Nosenzo & Harold Dieterle
alicia@perillanyc.com

Monday, October 26, 2009

Divvies, CBS

Yay, Lori and Benjamin of Divvies on CBS yesterday! Video here from CBS and story with recipes.

New Media FTC Guidelines

In a November 28, 2008 publication that may affect bloggers who review products, the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced that it has updated its 1980 guidelines on endorsements, testimonials and advertising, providing “the basis for voluntary compliance with the law by advertisers and endorsers.” It will take effect December 1, 2009. The FTC guideline requires endorsers (including new media) to disclose their connection to a product seller if that connection would “materially affect the weight of credibility of the endorsement.”

I'm an Allergic Girl not a lawyer. But, as a citizen, blogger, advocate and businessperson, transparency is important to me and what I do. So, How does this relate to what I write/blog about? If I read the FTC document correctly, not a whole lot. I don’t get paid to write my Allergic Girl blog by a third party, never have. Additionally, I already disclose when I’ve received a book from a publicist or products directly from a company or when I have a relationship with a company. However, all of this online disclosure chat prompted me to make my blog policy very clear.

First and foremost, I am an allergic girl.

When I go to a restaurant, when I try a new food product, when I go to a hotel or read a book, I experience all of that as someone with food allergies, environmental allergies and allergic asthma who wants to stay safe and enjoy.

That is my first concern; that is my bottom line.

After that, if I like it, then I’ll dig a bit further: who makes this, how, where; who’s cooking it, may I thank them personally; or where can I get more of that delicious product? I'll ask because I liked it, it didn’t make me allergic and I might like more.

After that I think: “Hmmm, this might be cool for the Allergic Girl blog” and consider writing about it.

As pertains to samples, yes, I receive foodstuffs, product samples and reviewer copies of books for free.

Once I taste test or trial a product, if I don’t love it, I don’t blog about it regardless of whether it was free or cost dearly. If it’s not tasty (or seems unsafe) I talk directly with the company.

Alternatively, if I love something, I blog about it. I try to get as much information as I can (company allergen policies that I put in italics, for example) so my readers can make an informed decision about whether they want to explore that company for their own needs.

My thought is that *if* these new FTC guidelines help the blogging community become a more respected, valued journalism tool by underscoring the need for transparency where a certain murkiness (e.g. the relationship between advertisers and blogs that get paid for positive reviews/endorsements) existed then that can only help all of us.

***

You can read the PDF from the Federal Trade Commission; stories from the New York Times and the ensuing online conversations from Media Bistro about book reviews and reviewer copies of books i.e. free books for review; Edward Champion interview with FTC’s Richard Cleland; CNNMoney.com; and Publisher’s Weekly, who tried to further clarify what this all means for the independent blogger.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Halloween, Allergies and Asthma

From a AAAAI.org press release:

MILWAUKEE – Parents of children with food allergies are aware of the dangers lurking in Halloween treats, but little attention is paid to asthma, which can also be frightening for asthmatic children participating in Halloween festivities.

“If your child suffers from asthma and/or allergies, be aware and prepared for potential triggers to ensure a safe and fun time for all during the holidays,” according to Clifford W. Bassett, MD, FAAAAI, Chair of the Public Education Committee of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI).

The AAAAI offers these tips to help children with asthma and allergies safely enjoy the holiday and stay out of hospital emergency rooms:

* Beware of costumes. Mold, dust and latex products can be major asthma triggers. Don’t recycle costumes from the attic or basement, and wash new costumes before wearing. Halloween masks can trap dust and mold, so keep your child mask-free.

* Don’t enter homes. Keep your child on the door step of homes while trick-or-treating. Asthma triggers in the houses of others may include cigarette smoke or pet dander.

* Watch for weather changes. Cold air and humidity can make breathing difficult for children with asthma. Make certain your child is dressed appropriately for the conditions.

* Under the weather. If you child is feeling poorly, hold off on trick-or-treating. Cold and flu symptoms can severely aggravate asthma conditions.

* Lurking food allergies. Halloween can be troublesome for those with food allergies. If this includes your child, read every food label and be a “label detective,” so you know what the ingredients are before your child touches or eats the product. This means avoiding homemade treats.

* Be prepared. When trick-or-treating, be prepared for an emergency. For food allergies, carry an epinephrine pen. For asthma, keep a rescue inhaler close at hand.

The AAAAI also offers a comprehensive library of online asthma and allergy resources for parents at www.aaaai.org.

The AAAAI (www.aaaai.org) represents allergists, asthma specialists, clinical immunologists, allied health professionals and others with a special interest in the research and treatment of allergic and immunologic diseases. Established in 1943, the AAAAI has nearly 6,500 members in the United States, Canada and 60 other countries. To locate an allergist/immunologist, visit the AAAAI Physician Referral Directory at www.aaaai.org/physref.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Food Allergy Poster Hearing, NYC

This announcement comes from the press office of Jessica Lappin, New York City Council:




COME TESTIFY TO SUPPORT FOOD ALLERGY POSTERS

Last March, a bill sponsored by Council Member Lappin became law requiring restaurants to display a poster that provides important food allergy information to their staff. The Department of Health was charged with designing this poster and has prepared a draft version. It’s a good start, but it could be made much stronger. The proposed poster focuses solely on food servers and does not offer information to workers who may contaminate food with allergens at any other point as food is cooked and prepared. We’d like to see that included on the final version.

Add your voice! The public has the chance to testify and recommend changes to the proposed poster before it becomes final. Come out and urge the Department of Health to create a meaningful poster that will educate all restaurant workers. Let’s make sure this poster is as strong and valuable as it can be.

Hearing Details:
Friday, October 23, 2009
10 a.m. – noon
Department of Health
125 Worth Street, Third Floor Boardroom
For more information, call Christina Bottego at (212) 788-6865.
Persons interested in pre-registering to speak at the hearing should notify Rena Bryant, in writing, by mail to 125 Worth Street, CN-31, New York, NY 10013, or by fax to (212) 788-4315 by 5 pm, October 22, 2009. Please include a telephone number where, if necessary, you may be reached during normal working hours. Speakers will be limited to 5 minutes.


The sample text that needs clarification:

Food Allergy Alert!

Food allergies are serious. Even a small amount of an allergy-causing food can make people sick.

When customers tell you they have a food allergy:

· Ask the chef or the manager if the allergy-causing food is in the dish ordered.
· Ask the chef if the allergy-causing food could have had contact with the dish order during preparation.
· Tell the customer that the allergy-causing food is or may be present in their order if it is an ingredient or could have had contact during preparation.

The eight most common allergy-causing foods are peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, eggs, milk, wheat and soy.

Call 911 if the customer has an allergic reaction.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Save The Deli, David Sax

Smoked brisket at Blue Smoke . Not Kosher but delicious:



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Deli for me, or more pointedly deli meat like corned beef, pastrami and brisket has a deep and profound place in my heart and in my mind. I imagine I’m like many New York Jews in that way. Food is memory and well-made pastrami can be the best memory evah. I may not be old enough to remember when this city during the golden age of the Jewish deli (that would have been my grandparents’ or great-grandparents’ time in Brooklyn) but my lingering hunger for pastrami is a deep desire for history.

William Helmreich (CUNY) is quoted as saying in David Sax's new book, Save the Deli: “Younger [Jews] who go into delis, are practicing something us sociologists call ‘symbolic ethnicity’...when Jews go to a deli, they’re ethnically bonding, expressing common roots of our shared culture.” (And for the non-Jews, Sax’s quotes Helmreich as saying: “In the deli, you can walk in a goy and walk out a Jew...maybe a pound heavier.”)

So, millions of us have a deep connection to deli. But if you’ve noticed in the last few years, at least here in New York City, the deli is dying, going out of business or adding some really odd, tref items to their menus in an attempt to keep up with American cuisine, tastes and diets (much to the deli lover’s chagrin).

David Sax , in Save the Deli, (published by HMH and sold through Amazon.com) takes the reader on a meaty journey of the history of the delicatessen and its dare-we-say bleak future. He writes a neatly detailed account of the birth of the New York Jewish deli, and spends considerable time on the intersection between food, Jews and real estate. He then attempts to answer the very-mournful (cue music in a minor key) question of why the deli is dying.

He ponders: “Does the salvation of the American Jewish delicatessen lie in maintaining a strong connection with its origins in New York or will a local approach ultimately win more hearts and mouths?” So he takes us on a cross-country journey to the delis of America. “If a solution to the save the deli exists, it rests in the patchwork of states where over million American Jews live.” What he finds is some delicious second and third generation deli, as well as some deli done in new, innovative ways.

But what does it all mean? Can deli be saved outside of its New york roots? Do you think this food will be around in its truest form (i.e. not in a fast food mart) in fifty years? Should it be? Is deli important to you?

Dites-moi or read Save the Deli and then we can "tawk".

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

ScanAvert, Food Allergies

This information about ScanAvert came to me through a doctor friend. He gets all the latest about medical advances that are linked to technology through MedGadet. ScanAvert looks potentially kinda cool (NB: I haven't tried it).

These are a few food allergy applications that we’ve all heard about that have entered the market (usually for the iPhone) that assist with either making smarter, allergy-free meal choices when dining out or giving ingredients of certain items to avoid your particular allergen. I haven’t written about them because I figured most of you have heard about them by now through other fabulous food allergy bloggers.

However, I hadn't heard about this one yet. What’s most interesting to me about ScanAvert is that it seems to cover more than just allergies like how medication and food can interact adversely. Important information that and something the applications don't cover (that I know of). From the ScanAvert website:

“Fifty percent of Americans take prescribed drugs, often unaware they are ingesting substances that are contra-indicative. ScanAvert offers a simplified method to avoid consuming substances in foods and OTC remedies that may interfere with the effectiveness of a prescription drug at the point of sale of those consumable products..”

If any of you try it out, let me know.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Food Allergies, Classroom

From another from an Allergic Girl blog reader and a Worry-Free Dinners member.

***

We had a similar experience this week with my 3 1/2 year old at her preschool. As parents of allergic children, we are always hopeful that they are absorbing all of our cautions and explanations, but we are never sure as they are so young and it's such a big concept.

They made applesauce in her class, but forgot to tell me they were doing it so I was unable to double check the safety and give the go ahead for her to have it...and they don't feed her anything that I don't approve. So at snack time, all the children had applesauce and my daughter had her safe crackers. Naturally, I felt so bad for her, but she was not bothered in the slightest.

I asked her if she had wanted to try the applesauce to which she responded, "Mommy, I didn't want that applesauce because I didn't know if it was safe and I don't eat anything that you don't check."

My heart skipped a beat! I went from feel sorry for her to feeling so incredibly proud of her!! I told her that she was such a big girl to understand her allergy and to be able to make such a big decision on her own!

We made another big deal of it at dinnertime when my husband was there to congratulate her and give her high 5's! It seems like a small thing, but in our world it was a huge moment!!


***

Keep these stories coming, they encourage all of us!

Friday, October 09, 2009

M&Ms, Food Allergies

This short but pithy story comes from an Allergic Girl blog reader and a frequent Worry-Free Dinners attendee.

"Today we went on a hayride with A.'s new school friends, and before the ride we had a picnic. Of course, one of the moms brings M&Ms for her daughter's dessert...all of the little ones started sharing them, and they all offered A. some too. This is what A. says:

"No, thank you. I can't have M&Ms. I'm allergic. I can only have skippers" (Skippers are Vermont Nut Free Chocolates).

She said this numerous times, told me, and never took any.

It might be one of my proudest moments in recent mommy memory."


A is three [3] years old by the way. I'm so proud too! Great job A. and A.'s parents!

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Flu Shot, ACAAI

So I got my flu shot yesterday. I know, big whoop. But I'm always a bit nervous about getting it. I'm not egg allergic but I am skin sensitive (never had any reaction, other than a sore arm for a day). And I get it every year as I'm in a higher risk group because my other alias is: Asthma Girl.

So, did you get yours yet? Concerned about allergic reactions? Here's a press release from The American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI):

***

Patients with Vaccine Allergy May Be Safely Vaccinated Following New Guidelines

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill., October 8, 2009 – An apparent allergic reaction after an immunization should be investigated rather than avoiding future immunizations, which could leave patients at greater risk of disease, according to new medical guidelines published in the October issue of Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, the scientific journal of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI).

There are approximately 235 million doses of vaccines administered in the United States each year, and only 1 dose per million causes anaphylaxis, a serious medical reaction. Fatalities from vaccine-induced anaphylaxis are exceedingly rare.

“Local, injection site reactions and constitutional symptoms, especially fever, are common after vaccinations and do not contraindicate future doses,” said John M. Kelso, M.D., Division of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology at Scripps Clinic in San Diego, Calif., and a chief editor of the practice parameter.

Dr. Kelso and colleagues recommend that all serious events occurring after vaccine administration should be reported to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) at www.vaers.hhs.gov established by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Possible associations of the reaction to the vaccine can then be evaluated for causation.

All suspected anaphylactic reactions to vaccines should be evaluated by an allergist to determine the culprit allergen. An allergist, an expert in the diagnosis and treatment allergies and asthma, can perform allergy testing to identify the specific substances that trigger allergic reactions and determine the most appropriate and effective treatment.

Allergic, or IgE-mediated reactions to vaccines are more often caused by vaccine components rather than the immunizing agent itself. Vaccine components that may cause allergic reactions include gelatin or egg protein, and rarely, yeast, latex (contained in vial stoppers or syringe plungers), neomycin and thimerosal.

“Gelatin, which is added to many vaccines as a stabilizer, is either bovine or porcine, which are extensively cross-reactive. We recommend that a history of allergy to the ingestion of gelatin should be sought before administering a gelatin-containing vaccine,” Dr. Kelso said.

“The MMR (measles and mumps vaccines) and one type of rabies vaccine contain negligible or no egg protein, and can be administered to egg allergic children without prior skin testing. Egg protein is present in higher amounts in yellow fever and influenza vaccines and may cause reactions in egg-allergic patients, who should be evaluated by an allergist prior to receiving these vaccines.

“However rare, if a patient gives a history of an immediate-type reaction to yeast, latex, neomycin or thimerosal, we recommend that it be investigated with skin testing before immunization with a vaccine containing these constituents,” he said.

If the vaccine is warranted for an allergic individual, evaluation may determine that it can be administered in the office of an allergy specialist who is prepared to treat for an emergency if needed.

“Persons with a history of allergy to egg or a past reaction to an influenza vaccine may still be able to receive the H1N1 vaccine or the seasonal flu vaccine safely. I believe that anyone with this concern should check with their doctor and consult with an allergist,” said James T. Li, M.D., professor of medicine and chair, Division of Allergy and Immunology at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn., and a chief editor of the practice parameter.

The practice parameter titled “Adverse Reactions to Vaccines,” was developed by the Joint Task Force on Practice Parameters, representing the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI), the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI) and the Joint Council of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. The Joint Task Force practice parameters are online at www.allergyparameters.org.

About ACAAI

The American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) is a professional medical organization headquartered in Arlington Heights, Ill., that promotes excellence in the practice of the subspecialty of allergy and immunology. The College, comprising more than 5,000 allergists-immunologists and related health care professionals, fosters a culture of collaboration and congeniality in which its members work together and with others toward the common goals of patient care, education, advocacy and research.

To learn more about allergies and asthma and to find an allergist, visit www.AllergyandAsthmaRelief.org.

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Friday, October 02, 2009

Halloween Candy, Allergy Moms

"Keep in mind that NO candy is safe for everyone. Having said that here are some varieties that are “safe” for a variety of allergies. Remember to READ THE LABEL every time, even if it’s a candy you’ve purchased previously. Many times, Halloween versions will contain different ingredients. Be Safe: All treats, No tricks!"

The above quote is from food allergy blogger Gina Clowes, of AllergyMoms.com about safe treats for all hallow's eve. Go get your candy on!

Nick News, Food Allergies

Love this, hope they do more.

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Link to "Allergic To My World" video, from Nickelodeon's show, Nick News.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

The Frisky, Food Allergies

From another dating allergic girl:

"If you want to work your way into my heart, accept my other lover – food. Acknowledge me, acknowledge my food allergies. Love me, love my delicate palette. Understand me, understand that I eat olives with every meal. Really want to find out what makes me tick? Share a meal with me."

Read more on The Frisky.