Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Teen Dies at California Camp

By Kelley Lindberg

Tragedy occurred this week at a family camp in Sacramento, and it’s especially sad because the family did everything right, and 13-year-old Natalie Giorgi still passed away from her reaction.

Her parents were extremely cautious, well-informed, and prepared. When she accidentally bit into a camp-provided Rice Krispy Treat and tasted peanut, she spit it out, and her parents administered Benadryl. She seemed fine for 20 minutes, then began to vomit. Her parents then administered an EpiPen, and when that didn’t seem to help, they gave her another, then another.

Three EpiPens and Benadryl, and she still died. It’s our worst nightmare.

Her devastated parents are reminding all of us to be vigilant and are hoping their story will help raise awareness of the seriousness of food allergies.

For more information about Natalie and this tragedy, see “Years of Caution about Peanut Allergy Fails to Save Teen Who Died at Camp Sacramento,” from the Sacramento Bee.

All of us in the food allergy community are heart-sick at this news, and we send our most tender condolences to the family who lost such a lovely daughter.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Allergy-Free Frozen Treat Recipes

By Kelley Lindberg

Hot, hot, hot. Sun, sun, sun. And did I mention hot?

You know what’s really good when it’s this hot outside? Frozen treats! So here a few frozen treat recipes I’ve found that look really good, and they are all free from the Top 8 allergens. I’m going to give some of them a try this week!
Martha Stewart's Melon Sorbet
  • Frozen Chocolatey“Nana-‘Nutters”: From Enjoy Life Foods, this recipe for frozen banana slices topped with Sunbutter and dipped in melted Enjoy Life Foods chocolate chips looks amazing. (And you can leave out the Sunbutter and just coat the banana slices in chocolate!)
  • Frozen Melon Sorbet: Martha Stewart offers this super-easy recipe that calls for fresh melon that you cut into cubes and freeze. Then when you want to make your sorbet, you use a little water, a little sugar, and a food processor.
  • Strawberry Sorbet: VeganBaking.net has this good-looking recipe for strawberry sorbet that uses a bag of frozen strawberries, water, sugar, and lemon juice. You use an ice-cream maker to make it that perfect consistency! (Substitute a bag of frozen raspberries for the strawberries to make raspberry sorbet.)
  • Banana Faux “Ice Cream”: Frozen banana chunks, blended with a little fruit juice and a teaspoon of vanilla extract, makes a frozen treat that actually looks like ice cream, but without the dairy! It sounds fantastic, and it says you can add other frozen fruits to flavor the banana however you want.
  • Frozen Fruit Cups: This recipe from CookEatShare.com has 4 ingredients: strawberries, pineapple, banana, and orange soda. Sounds perfect for kids! You can make these in a cup with e popsicle stick, or if you have popsicle molds, use those. (You can also try kiwi and watermelon.)
  • Strawberry Lemonade Ice Pops: One can of frozen lemonade concentrate, a bag of frozen strawberries, 3 cups of cold water, and your popsicle molds… voila! Summer on a stick!
  • Root Beer Float: If you’ve got a favorite brand of ice cream that is safe for your family, don’t forget to pick up some root beer to make this time-honored summer favorite! Just scoop some of the ice cream into a glass, then slowly add the root beer. (It’s also fun to swap out the root beer for orange soda, Dr. Pepper, Cherry Coke, or other favorite soda.)
Stay cool, stay safe, stay happy!


Monday, July 15, 2013

BBQ Tips for Food Allergies

By Kelley Lindberg

Barbeques are a mainstay of summer. Whether we’re throwing some chicken on for a quick weeknight dinner or hosting a big ol’ summertime bash, our grills can be indispensable helpers. But if we have food allergies, we have to take a few extra steps to be sure that this weekend’s fun barbeque doesn’t end in a trip to the ER.

The first thing to consider is that food residue on a grill can be a problem. So if the grill you’re about to use has been exposed to food allergens in the past, you’ll want to use caution. For example, if your friend is allergic to seafood and you cooked salmon or shrimp on your grill last night, it’s not a good idea to cook your allergic friend’s food on that same grill. Just scraping the charred remains off of the grill isn’t good enough. If you can, first scraping the grill, then clean it thoroughly with soap and water until all residue is completely gone.

Remember that the grill lid may have residue on it, as well, which might drip onto cooking food. So clean the inside of the lid, too.

If you can’t clean the grill yourself (for example, if it’s someone else’s party and grill), then you still have options. First, you can wrap your food in aluminum foil – use heavy-duty foil or double-wrap it so that it won’t tear and expose the food to the contaminated grill or to other food that may be cooking at the same time. Second, you can use a grilling tray to separate your food from the grill itself. Third, bring food that can be cooked in the oven or in a skillet, and bypass the grill completely. Most hosts and hostesses will be more than happy to accommodate you, because no one wants to be the reason you had to rush to the hospital mid-party. Nothing puts a damper on a summer barbeque like having to call an ambulance.

Next, consider the seasonings that the grill-master is applying to your food. Ask to read the label of any packaged seasonings, marinades, or barbeque sauces that the cook may be liberally shaking or splashing onto the food. If any of the seasonings look suspicious, don’t hesitate to ask for your portion to be wrapped in aluminum foil first, to prevent cross-contamination.

Finally, take a look at all the other dishes being served. Potlucks are always problematic for food-allergic folks, but there are ways to make them a little more manageable. For example, if you can, enlist the host’s help to try to position the dishes with food allergens in them at the end of the serving table, so that the safe food gets served first, reducing the chance that anyone will drip sour cream or grated cheese onto the milk-free grilled zucchini. Separating the food allergen dishes from the safe dishes also helps prevent spoon-sharing between dishes.

Another hint is to ask the host if you can dish up the allergic person’s meal first, before everyone else begins to swarm the table.

And finally, the tried-and-true way to avoid problems at a barbeque is to eat your own meal at home before you arrive. Then at the party, you can enjoy a beverage with your friends without having to worry about the food at all.

Now, go fire up that grill and have a safe and happy barbeque!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Is Your Cookware Safe for Food Allergies?

By Kelley Lindberg

I posted this originally about three years ago, but I think it’s time to dust it off again and repost it, because safe cookware is something we all need reminding of now and then!

Okay, so you’ve cleared your pantry of the foods your newly diagnosed family member is allergic to. You’ve found some new recipes and discovered your new favorite brands of safe cookies.

Now it’s time to look in your pots and pans cabinet.


Yep, it’s true. Some of your cookware may not be safe to use for your food-allergic loved one.

For the most part, your regular pots and pans and baking dishes – the stainless steel or non-stick ones and the glass dishes – are probably safe. As long as the surface is non-porous and can be thoroughly cleaned, it should be okay.

Stoneware, however, needs a closer look. If your stoneware is fully glazed (and the glaze isn’t cracked), then the food probably washes off just fine and it’s probably okay to use. But if your stoneware’s cooking surface is rough and unpainted (that pizza stone or that Pampered Chef casserole dish), then that rough surface absorbs the oils from any food cooked in it. That’s what gives the stoneware that nice non-stick finish the more you use it, but it also means the stoneware has probably absorbed unsafe food allergen proteins. So you shouldn’t use it for preparing food that will be eaten by a food-allergic person.

The same goes for that Dutch oven you take camping. If you’ve made Aunt Rita’s cheesy biscuits in it in the past, don’t make dinner in it this weekend for your milk-allergic son.

A cast iron skillet is in the same boat. If it’s a true cast iron skillet with that beautifully seasoned surface that you’ve spent years building up (the kind where you just wipe it clean or maybe use a quick rinse, but you’d divorce your hubby if he scrubbed it with a Brillo pad), then that great black surface is made of hardened food oils, some of which may still contain allergens.

Be aware of cookware when you go to parties, too. Check with the cook to see if they used a stoneware pan for those yummy-looking pumpkin bars before you indulge in them.

If you do find unsafe cookware in your cupboards, and you’ve wondered why your child keeps getting sick even though you’ve eliminated the allergens from his or her diet, you may have just discovered the culprit.

While you’re at it, check your non-stick pans and skillets. If the non-stick surface is peeling off and you can see the metal beneath it, toss it out. That has nothing to do with allergies, and everything to do with toxic materials leaching into your food. Ick. And think twice about any aluminum pans, too. Aluminum is allegedly being tentatively linked to Alzheimer’s and other illnesses, so you might want to consider avoiding aluminum cooking surfaces and go with stainless steel instead. Just something to think about.

So… sad but true, it’s time to ditch the old stoneware. The good news is, when you purchase new cookware, this time you can be sure it’s only used to prepare safe foods, and you’ll embark on a long, safer life together!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Choosing an Epinephrine Auto-Injector for Your Food Allergies

by Kelley Lindberg

If you have the potential to experience an anaphylactic reaction to an allergen (whether it’s to food, medication, insect venom, or something else), you need to carry at least one (preferably two) epinephrine auto-injectors. So let’s talk about epinephrine choices on the market today.

Epinephrine is a form of adrenaline that is injected into the outer thigh during a severe reaction. The sooner you administer it, the more likely it is that the allergic reaction will be controlled and the patient will survive. The later you administer it, the longer the reaction has to take hold, and the harder it may be to control. It’s practically a miracle drug – it can stop an allergic reaction in its tracks, or at the very least slow it down. It’s been around for decades, and it used to be the only medicine available for asthma attacks.

Physicians are now saying that epinephrine should be considered the first line of defense, rather than an antihistamine like Benadryl, if the reaction appears to be severe. There are no situations where doctors say you should NOT give epinephrine if the patient is experiencing a severe allergic reaction.

A dose of epinephrine may only last about 20 minutes, and a reaction can last much longer, so that’s why you should have two injectors, and why you should always call 911 when you’ve administered one. And the allergic person should be monitored for at least 24 hours after injections, in case a secondary reaction occurs.

There are now four choices of epinephrine auto-injectors, since a generic version has come onto the market:
  • EpiPen: For years, the EpiPen has been the gold standard of epinephrine auto-injectors for treating anaphylactic allergic reactions. See www.epipen.com for more information and for a video on how to use one correctly. Your doctor or pharmacist can show you how to use one, using a trainer (which has no needle or medicine in it).
  • Auvi-Q: The new Auvi-Q auto-injector is making a big splash lately, because of its new size and shape (rectangular and flat – smaller than a cell phone, so that it fits in a pocket) as well as its audio instructions. Yes, it talks you through the injection process using a small computer chip in the case. See www.auvi-q.com for info and a training video.
  • Adrenaclick: Similar to an EpiPen, the Adrenaclick doesn’t require you to jab your thigh – you put it against your thigh and then press firmly. See www.adrenaclick.com for more information and for a training video.
  • Generic: A generic version of the Adrenaclick auto-injector is now available. Because it is a generic, some pharmacies and health insurance companies may automatically substitute it for the auto-injector you thought you were getting, so be sure you know exactly which auto-injector you’re getting, and be sure you’re trained to use whatever you get. Apparently this generic is causing some confusion when patients are trained on the EpiPen and then receive a generic auto-injector at the pharmacy, for example. Here is the website for more info: www.epinephrineautoinject.com.