Food Allergy Counseling

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

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Monday, October 25, 2010

Republic of Tea

Tea, for me, is a basic food group. I know for a lot of you chocolate is or coffee or wine or fried foods; tea is mine.

I was raised on tea. Tea was my favorite drink in my baby bottle with lots of milk and sugar (and yes, I remember it). It’s the first thing I grab in the morning. It’s the last drink I have at night. When I’m feeling wheezy: tea. When I’m feeling blue: tea. When I need a boost in the afternoon: tea.

Recently, Republic of Tea sent me a new flavor to try, a winner this one. Organic Turmeric and Ginger. During the winter months, I add a cup of ginger tea with raw honey to my daily black tea intake. I either make my own tisane with fresh ginger, cinnamon, and garlic, something an ex-boyfriend, Henry, used to make for me when I was feeling under the weather. Yum. So, I was super excited about this Organic Turmeric and Ginger tea. It’s yellow when brewed, from the turmeric, spicy from the ginger with some smoothness from added dried honey. Its tea base is green, antioxidant filled and low-caf.

I asked Republic of Tea about their allergen policies as they have one tea line with natural almond flavor. Here’s their official stance:

Allergens: Republic of Tea ’s Full Leaf Round Eco-Friendly Tea Bag and Eco Iced Tea Brew Bag is made of a biodegradable mesh material made from a corn byproduct. Research shows the protein that causes corn allergies is removed during the making of this product but, as everyone is affected differently by allergens, Citizens should be aware. Stringent internal allergen control methods are in place to eliminate cross contamination, with Ministers (employees) trained annually to assure adherence to policy. With the exception of natural almond flavoring used in a small number of teas, none of the natural flavorings used contain allergens. Again, as with all packaged foods, Citizens should always review labels carefully to check for possible allergens. Further, The Republic of Tea is a latex-free facility, where only vinyl food-grade gloves are used when handling product.

Republic of Tea has a very clear HACCP (Hazard Analysis & Critical Control Points) in place but if you have any questions, I urge you to reach out them and discuss it. Here is the Republic of Tea contact page.

In the meantime, I'm off to have another cuppa thanks to Republic of Tea .

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Allergic Girl, New York Daily News, 2010

Recently, I had the pleasure of talking to the New York Daily News about dining out in New York City with food allergies. And then we did a photo shoot! How fun. Here are some outtakes, taken by my assistant.

Me and red chard:


Those radishes were dirty:


Here's the lovely photographer:


And...that was the same day Shauna James Ahern, Gluten-Free Girl, was strolling through the park.

(After the Daily News shoot, Shauna and I made a YouTube video which you can see here.)

Here’s the NY Daily News finished article:


And finally, here are my best tips for dining out and here are my recommendations for dining in NYC.

Thanks again, NY Daily News for shedding light on this important topic!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Indie Candy



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Generally speaking, I like products (and I like to review products) that you can just go into your local supermarket or natural food store and purchase easily, which means I don’t usually review online stores.

However, as Halloween is coming up, and the question of where to buy safe, allergen-free candy is on everyone’s mind, I’d thought I’d share an online store, new to me, that both creates and carries candies free of the top eight allergens.

Indie Candy sent me a pineapple lollipop (that I didn’t try), lime jellies that were soft, fragrant and chewy and a Jack-O-Lantern chocolate pop. The chocolate was the one item that I was most interested in, as it’s difficult to find good quality chocolate. This pop had that fruity-like aroma of dark chocolate, good mouthfeel and wasn’t overly sweet. Pretty much, one bite and I was in
Proustian pop-heaven. Why the madeline-tinged reverie? When I was a kid, there were Howard Johnson’s every few miles along the Long Island Expressway. On our way out to our country home on the south fork of Long Island, we would stop at ‘HoJo’s” for lunch. Invariably, I’d beg for, and sometimes get, one of their chocolate-pops, tantalizingly stationed by the check-out. The pops were round circles of milk chocolate with white centers that had a picture on it. Such a treat, chocolate on a stick.

So back to this Jack-O-Lantern chocolate pop by Indie Candy that sent me into chocolate pop recollections, I wanted to know more about Indie Candy, their manufacturing and purchasing, how they source their ingredients, cross-contamination and their top eight free status.

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From Indie Candy and reprinted with their permission:

Our facility is completely big 8 allergen free, so there is not an opportunity for cross contamination within our facility.

Our chocolate that we use to make our chocolate products is made in a dedicated nut and gluten free facility. This facility also process soy and dairy. However, this product is produced on a dedicated dairy and soy free line. The ingredients are additionally tested to ensure strict allergen control standards are met. Because of this, our chocolate products are certified gluten free/vegan and CFC Pareve.

We work with our ingredient suppliers to ensure that each product that goes into our products is also Big 8 allergen free. For example, our extracts are made for us to be allergen free and use sunflower oil as a basis rather than the more common soy oil. Most companies just purchase "off the shelf" industrial extracts and may not be aware of the ingredients in the flavor extracts or colors they use. Our flavors are "from the named fruit" and only from the named fruit - so mango is only made from mango, etc. "From the named fruit" is a specific methodology used in flavor making and is just like it sounds.

Since our products are designed to be allergy friendly, we thoughtfully review every step and every ingredient in the process and limit any opportunity for cross contamination.

Also, because we have deep knowledge about each ingredient, if a customer has a non-typical allergy (mango for example - in our line, just don't any thing that is Mango flavored), we can answer their questions and direct them to appropriate products.

Since I am my own customer (I can't have gluten and I have a son with multiple food intolerances), I am very aware of the issues with food production and allergies/intolerances.

Hanson Watkins, Indie Candy


Retailers, wholesalers and parents can go online and place orders through Indie Candy’s website at www.indiecandy.com or phone in orders at 205.835.0094. Indie Candy’s Halloween candy will be available until October 31, 2010.

***

If you have any questions, I encourage you to reach out to them as they were very receptive to questions as you just read above and I hope everyone has a safe and fun Halloween.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Accidental Tourist

I’m a world-class packer. Probably the result of having divorced parents. I spent years shuttling back and forth with suitcases overstuffed yet invariably missing something essential: homework, an Archie comic, a favorite nightie or a beloved toy. Ten years of missing stuff always in the other apartment, you become an expert on packing what you really need.

As an adult, I travel light: only carry-on whether a week, a weekend or a month, especially if I have access to laundry facilities. And everything in my bag is exactly what I need. A heating coil to make tea in the room for the morning. A travel pillow. Bathing suit for hotel pool. Handiwipes for the hotel remote and phone.

And food.

When I travel, I’m almost that logo of a flying armchair from Anne Tyler’s book or the movie of the same name: a traveler who wishes to have the comforts of home when leaving home, almost like you never left.

When you have a restricted diet, food is not merely a comfort but a necessity.

I have food for the trip there and back, and usually enough food to eat in my room three meals a day for three days. Not gourmet dining but sustenance. I was thinking about this on this last trip to Boston. The Chef asked me why I didn’t come down for dinner the first night? (He noticed, gosh). First, I was exhausted, second, I had brought all this food; now I needed to eat it.

So I wonder, what are your essentials when packing? Do you find you bring everything but what you need most? Or do you bring exactly what you need? Do you bring food? Or do you wing it?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Food Allergy Action Plan, 2010



A girl walks into her doctor’s office.

The doctor says: “So, kiss any boys lately and get allergic?”

“Nope,” the girl says, “but let’s go over my food allergy action plan, just in case.”

(It’s funny because it’s true.)

I went into for my annual physical today (and flu shot, more info from FAI) and if you remember what happened last year, I thought annual refresher of my food allergy action plan was a good idea.

Have you gone over your plan lately? If not, I suggest you do ASAP. Even if you’ve had food allergies, even for forevah like me, having it written out (and pasted somewhere public in your home) can only be a good thing.

Here is a link to FAAN’s Food Allergy Action Plan for kids, here's an updated plan from FAAN; both wwork for adults, too.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Boston Harbor Hotel, Chef Daniel Bruce

My welcome at Boston Harbor Hotel:



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This past week, I made a quick trip to Boston for the Natural Products Expo East. Because of a scheduling snafu, I was kindly rebooked from my usual Pure room at the Seaport Boston to a hotel down the street, the Boston Harbor Hotel.

The person I contacted after being rebooked was the hotel executive chef via email first then by phone. Chef Daniel Bruce was the essence of graciousness and hospitality. “We can make anything you like with any flavor profile,” he said. (That is the answer you want when talking with any chef, in any hotel restaurant or went you go into any restaurant; never settle for anything less.) Chef Daniel confirmed what I write about on Allergicgirl.com. Typically, hotel chefs are allergen-aware and trained, they deal with allergy requests and special requests all day long and basically, they want to help us, they're willing to help us and they're happy to help us.

Once I checked in, Chef Daniel met me for a quick conversation about my food allergy needs and then when over what I might like to have for dinner. Chef Daniel also mentioned that he had read my blog and copied and pasted all of my allergy needs into my guest profile. (This the level of service that is ideal from a chef, foodservice professional or hotel - even a date - if you have a blog.)

After all of this set-up with an Executive Chef of three hotel restaurants, you may think I just breezily walked into the hotel restaurant that night and ate whatever they served me, without doing any of the steps. And that may have worked. But I never leave it to chance; I never let anyone take over for me in a new untested situation, regardless of how many times they reassure me that they know everything they need to know. My health is my responsibility, first and foremost. So, I always, always do the steps. The same ones I use in any restaurant, anywhere. It's why I dine out often with so few food allergy issues and lots of new foodie friends.

So onto the food. The second night of my stay I sat at the bar of the Meritage. I introduced myself to the General Manager by name and he said “Oh yes, Ms. Miller, we’ve been expecting you.” Lovely. Chef Daniel came out to personally take my order. Very nice. I had a three-ounce filet mignon perfectly cooked (medium rare) with fingerling potatoes, green beans and Brussel sprouts. That’s one of my standard I-don’t-know-you-yet-so-this-is-my-safe-dish – a lean protein with steamed or sautéed veg. (I recommend you have a safe dish that you can order at new places as well.)

Whilst at the bar, I ended up chatting with a lovely couple next to me who were considering the hotel for their wedding. They were talking about how they dine at the restaurant often and are huge fans of the chef, in awe they said, of his culinary abilities. They were impressed that he had come out to not only talk with me but to take my order and then serve my dish.

The woman inquired: “Are you a food critic or someone famous?”

“No”, I said proudly, “I have food allergies.”

How did this all happen? It starts right after you book your trip. Reach out to the Executive Chef of your hotel to see if they can accommodate your needs. A quick call or email takes only a few minutes but it could mean the difference between a nerve-wracking trip and an easeful journey.

Thank you Boston Harbor Hotel and Chef Daniel Bruce for making my stay such an enjoyable and allergen-free one!

Symptoms of Anaphylaxis, ACAAI

The below is a press release from the American College of Asthma, Allergy & Immunology and it poses an excellent question:

Would You Know the Symptoms of Life-Threatening Anaphylaxis?


If you or a loved one is newly diagnosed with food allergies or even if you’ve had food allergies for, like, forever, you may not know the answer to the most basic of questions: what does anaphylaxis look or feel like and what should you do if/when it happens.

-Get motivated and get educated.
-Go over your food allergy emergency plan, allergy action plan or anaphylaxis plan with your allergist.
-Review your emergency medications - what to take and when.
-Don't delay; this information is life saving.

From an ACAAI press release:

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. – Many of the approximately 1,500 deaths in the U.S. each year due to anaphylaxis, a sudden serious allergic reaction, could be prevented if more people knew the symptoms and the immediate treatment needed to survive.

To increase awareness of anaphylaxis, Allergy & Asthma Network Mothers of Asthmatics (AANMA) and the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) have partnered to bring the Anaphylaxis Community Experts (ACE) educational program to 150 communities throughout the U.S. The ACE program is supported by Dey Pharma, LP.

“The first line of treatment is early administration of epinephrine. Most fatalities from anaphylaxis occur outside the home, especially when treatment is delayed,” says allergist David Khan, MD, ACAAI program chair. “Our goal is to show parents, teachers, school nurses, emergency responders and others how to recognize and respond to anaphylaxis symptoms the moment they begin. Our goal is to save lives.”

Anaphylaxis is a rapid-onset, whole-body, potentially life-threatening, allergic reaction. It can happen to anyone at any time, but is more commonly experienced among people with risk factors. There are three major risk factors for fatal anaphylaxis:
• Allergic reaction to food, stinging insects or medications
• Presence or history of asthma symptoms
• Delay in administration of epinephrine

The affected person may experience cardiovascular shock and/or serious respiratory compromise.

“If you or someone you know experiences anaphylaxis, ask: what caused the allergic reaction? The answer may not be what you think. See an allergist. Get a strategy and reduce anxieties associated with anaphylaxis,” says Nancy Sander, AANMA president and founder. “Forty-seven states protect students’ rights to carry and use auto-injectable epinephrine. We’ve created resources to help them and families coordinate students’ needs.”

Every child at risk should have an anaphylaxis action plan on file with all schools and caregivers. The plan should list symptoms; state that immediate action can be life-saving and outline what to do in order of importance.

The ACE program will be presented in 150 communities by teams of local allergists and laypersons. ACE program objectives are to:

• Help patients, families and healthcare professionals identify who is at risk, and recognize signs and symptoms of life-threatening allergic reactions

• Recommend that auto-injectable epinephrine, the first line of treatment, be administered immediately once the symptoms have been identified, followed by emergency medical attention at the nearest hospital

• Develop prevention models that:

o Promote identification and avoidance of allergens
o Encourage patients with a history of anaphylaxis to consult with an allergist routinely
o Provide an Anaphylaxis Action Plan to patients who are at risk of anaphylaxis
o Refer patients with a diagnosis of anaphylaxis to an allergist, support organizations and educational programs

To learn more about the symptoms and treatment of anaphylaxis visit www.aanma.org/anaphylaxis and www.AllergyAndAsthmaRelief.org.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Gluten-Free Girl, Interview

Recently, Gluten-Free Girl Shauna’s new book, Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef published. [Disclosure: We share the same publisher.] Shauna, her husband Danny (The Chef) and Lu (their daughter) were in NYC for all kinds of gluten-free fun. Aside from catching up on life, blogging, books and where to eat in NYC that's allergen-friendly - we had a sit down in the park to talk about the “loooove story". And really, who doesn't love a good love story? Add food to the mix, make it gluten-free and you have a party right there.

I invite to you have a listen in on the convo over at my new YouTube channel and enjoy!

Monday, October 11, 2010

WestFAST, Kyle Dine

WestFAST (Westchester Food Allergy Support Team) is doing a FAAN fundraiser with Allergic Girl colleague, Kyle Dine. Super exciting! Here’s WestFAST's (Westchester Food Allergy Support Team) flyer information. Enjoy!

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U.S. Launch Party for Kyle Dine’s “Food Allergies Rock!” and Food-Allergy-Friendly 
Halloween Party

Featuring musical performances by Kyle Dine and Charlie Hope at LIFE THE PLACE TO BE, 2 Lawrence St., Ardsley, NY (25 minutes north of NYC) 

2-4 pm on Halloween, Sunday, Oct. 31st, 2010

Come in costume to participate in our costume contest!

$30 admission for family of up to 5 with $5 per family going to benefit FAAN.

For more information, contact Suzie Fromer at suziefromer@gmail.com or (646) 785-6297 or visit www.lifetheplacetobe.com.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Kitchen Inspection, New York Times

Cross-contamination in a restaurant kitchen is a major worry for any of us with a restricted diet who dine out. But what about at home? Before we even start to tackle allergen contamination, what about the basics: bacteria, viruses, spores, fungus, mold; raw proteins; proper temperatures and hand washing. This illuminating article in the New York Times is a must read. And then wash. In the bathroom.

The New York Times article highlights:

"Would Your Kitchen Pass Inspection?" Pass or Fail, Some Health Basics for the Kitchen. Some of the things health department inspectors watch for in restaurants are worth keeping in mind at home:

--Make sure to clear the sink of dishes and pans before washing hands, and use different towels to dry hands and cookware. Have liquid soap and paper towels in your bathroom for hand-washing.
--Make sure your cutting boards don’t have nicks and grooves where bacteria can grow. If they do, you can sand or replace them. Bacteria can also thrive inside cracks in floor tiles and wood countertops.
--Make sure your refrigerator is working properly and keep it on a cold setting.
--Don’t let food linger on countertops a long time before cooking and serving it.
--Keep pets off countertops and dining tables.
--Damp dish towels can breed bacteria. Keep them clean and dry, or use paper towels.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Westchester FAAN Walk, 2010

The walk starts:



This past Saturday was the first FAAN walk in Westchester, NY, which is about thirty minutes north of Manhattan. It was a truly glorious morning. Hundreds of families, grandparents and siblings were there, all in support of their food allergic family members. We walked around a track, overlooking the Long Island sound, entertained by Spider-man and Scooby-Doo.

Scooby entertains all:


At the end of the walk, there were musicians, safe treats from Divvies and Enjoy Life (and others), a fire truck to visit and jumpy castles. The goal was to raise $30,000; they raised over $130,000, all for FAAN. I was honored to join this year’s walk not only representing of all of us adult allergic girls and guys but to lend some support to a dear friend.


My best friend from grade school, Aimee and her beautiful family walked for the first time this year:


Aimee is one of my original safe friends.

Her three-year old daughter Kate developed severe peanut allergies this past year. Neither she, her husband nor their older daughter, seven-year old Hannah have any food allergies. The only person she knew with food allergies, before this, was me.

So, after Kate had a scary severe allergic reaction to a peanut butter cookies last year, Aimee and her family did what so many of you incredible food allergy mommies and daddies [and extended family members] do: they kicked into major parent mode, getting educated about food allergies [I recommended Dr Wood’s book as a primer, next year I’ll recommend Allergic Girl too for the how tos of food allergies], seeing the best qualified board certified allergist so they could to get the information they need about staying safe, medications and emergency plans; became active with FAAN and other email food allergy groups; learned how to advocate for little Kate; and helped both of their children cope with all of the new food rules. I’ve been there to help Aimee and her husband with all of this new information because parents need support, too. It’s been an adjustment to be sure, but Aimee has been able to find many positives about food allergies: like she and her family eat healthier than they ever have before.

My main takeaway from this event was the pure joy and support that is out there for the food allergic community and I was so thrilled to be a part of it.