Monday, May 21, 2012

Texas Guidelines for the Care of Students with Food Allergies At-Risk for Anaphylaxis

The new Texas guidelines have been released!

Susan Tharp, leader of the San Antonio Food Allergy Support Team, of which I am a member, sent me the link to the Texas Department of State Health Services website, where they have posted the guidelines that we have been waiting to view.  The link to the 77-page document is below:  

Susan, and many other people, worked so very hard, traveling to Austin, rallying, talking to legislators and campaigning to have this bill passed.  I am so grateful to them for all their hard work.  My daughter is still a few years away from being school-aged, but this gives me hope for the future.  It is promising that these types of guidelines are being put into place and that dialogues have opened up among parents, students and administrators and now things are being made more official.  While it is true that they are guidelines and not "laws" or "rules", it is still a major step forward in protecting children and keeping them safe in the school environment.  These are a few of the people that I would like to thank for their contribution to the passing of SB 27.  It is definitely not an all-inclusive list, since I was not involved in the passing of this legislation and am sure to miss many of the people who worked hard behind the scenes, but I want to give my thanks to those of whom I am aware.

Author of the Bill:
Senator Judith Zaffirini

Senator John Carona
Senator Wendy Davis
Senator Leticia Van de Putte
Senator Kirk Watson

Senator Dan Branch
Senator Scott Hochberg

Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network:
Michael Lade
Chris Weiss

Food Allergy Initiative:
Mary Jane Marchisotto
Drew Bird, M.D.

Food Allergy Parents/Advocates:
Beth Martinez
Susan Tharp
Christy Johnson
Regina Matus
Casey Jansen
Donna Cowman
Kristie Serio
Rachael Dedman

Dallas Children's Allergy Clinic:
Carol Bieler
Caroline Nixon

It's going to take me a while to make it through the entire document, but so far I am finding it very informative, even aside from the guidelines aspect.  Here are some things that fall under the category of, "Hmm, I did not know that..."  (Or, I wasn't entirely sure about that...)

"There are no medical conditions which absolutely prohibit the use of epinephrine when anaphylaxis occurs." ~Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 1105-1118.

"In approximately one third of anaphylactic reactions, the initial symptoms are followed by a delayed wave of symptoms two to four hours later.  This combination of an early phase of symptoms followed by a late phase of symptoms is defined as a biphasic reaction.  While initial symptoms respond to epinephrine, the delayed biphasic response may not respond to epinephrine and may not be prevented by steroids."

(I'll have to report back, later, with more...still reading...)

FAAN Walk for Food Allergy 2012

We're participating in the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN) Walk for Food Allergy in Austin, this year, and I figured I would ask if anyone out there would like to make a contribution to our team.

Last year, I participated as a Virtual Walker (I have a muscle-weakness condition that makes long walks an issue), but this year we are all going to attend, in-person, as a family!  I am participating in a clinical trial for a new medication and it is working amazingly well.  I only have it for another 9 months, so I'm going to make the most of it! :)

My fundraising goal is $500, but I will match that with a personal donation of $500 if I can reach my personal fundraising goal!  The site has a minimum donation amount of $10, but if you would like to contribute a smaller amount (and I truly believe that every Dollar/Peso/Euro counts), you can make a donation via PayPal.  Donations made via the PayPal account will not be tax-deductible, however, but it does give you another option.

To donate directly via the FAAN Walk Site, please click below:
FAAN Walk for Food Allergy

To donate via PayPal (for amounts less than the $10 minimum required by the walk site), please use this button:

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Always Carry Epinephrine

Of all the lessons in the food allergy world, I think the #1 lesson is ALWAYS CARRY EPINEPHRINE.  Always, always, always.  We can read labels all day long, but items are sometimes mislabeled. Cross-contamination warnings are voluntary and trace amounts can slip into foods.  Even when we are at our most vigilant, mistakes can be made.  New allergies can develop.  There are so many scenarios under which you might find yourself needing that life-saving medicine and it needs to be within arm's reach, at all times.  Having epinephrine with you does not mean that you will let your guard down, or stop being ever-vigilant and cautious.  It just means that if something happens and an allergen slips past the gates, and leads to an anaphylactic reaction, you will be prepared.

It might be a "pain" to carry it around, but consider the alternative.  Past reactions are no indication of the severity of future reactions.  If you have been diagnosed with a food allergy, or are at risk for anaphylaxis due to a venom allergy, and have been prescribed an epinephrine auto-injector, it was for a REASON.  If you believe you have fully outgrown your allergy/allergies, do not stop carrying your epinephrine without first consulting your allergist.

Don't gamble with your life.  
Keep that ACE up your sleeve. 
(Or in your bag, strapped to your belt, your leg...ANYWHERE!) 
Always Carry Epinephrine!

The Brookline Families with Food Allergies site has an excellent listing with sites that carry EpiPen carriers.

This is a great video from One Spot Allergy about their "The Best EpiPen Belt".

Also, have a look at my Important Information post, for more information.  The most important point on there is that Benadryl (or any other anti-histamine) has no life-saving capabilities!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Food Allergy Awareness Week - KABB Fox San Antonio Interview

I was on the local news this morning, live, for Food Allergy Awareness Week!  The minutes flew by and I didn't quite get to cover everything, but I am grateful for the opportunity to share what I could with viewers!
KABB Fox San Antonio :: Top Stories - Food Allergy Awareness Week

Friday, May 11, 2012

Favorite Posts

I created a standalone "Page" for my "Favorite Posts".  If you are new here, or if you want to share the "Reader's Digest" version of my blog with a friend, that would be the link to visit/share.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Non-Dairy Milks: Cross-Contamination Information

In my post on non-dairy milks, I compared several non-dairy milks, and I would like to add some information from each company's site (or email responses) about the measures they take the prevent cross-contamination and/or the allergen information they have provided.

Living Harvest (Tempt Hemp Milk)
I have allergies. How can I be sure your products are safe? Tempt and Living Harvest products are free of soy, gluten, tree-nuts, and dairy. They are also vegan, non-GMO and contain no trans fats or cholesterol.
Our products are processed in facilities where there may be traces of peanuts and tree nuts. All of our suppliers have extensive and strict guidelines for cleaning and adhere to Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) in order to help ensure that cross contamination does not occur.
(Note: Manitoba Harvest is the safest hemp milk, from an allergen perspective, given that their hemp milk is made in a dedicated facility that does not process any dairy, soy, nut or gluten products.  However, it hardly has any vitamins or minerals, compared to Living Harvest.  My daughter has a severe peanut allergy and a very high tree nut allergy and we have not encountered any problems (knock on wood) with Living Harvest, so they must be doing a good job with their Good Manufacturing Practices.) 

Silk (Pure Coconut Milk)

Is Silk Pure Coconut coconutmilk okay for people with wheat and gluten allergies?
We do not make our products using wheat, wheat gluten, rye, oat, barley or malt ingredients. Our facilities do not handle or receive these ingredients in their operations so we would not expect the presence of them in our products. However, at this time we do not conduct the tests that would allow us to label our products as gluten-free. Anyone with severe allergies should always consult a doctor before introducing a new food.

Can I drink Silk Pure Coconut coconutmilk products if I am allergic to dairy?
All Silk Pure Coconut coconutmilk products are dairy-free, lactose-free and casein-free, and can be suitable for people with dairy allergies. A dairy allergy is an extreme sensitivity to the proteins in dairy products and should not be confused with lactose intolerance. Dairy allergies can range from mild indigestion to anaphylaxis, which is an acute reaction. Lactose intolerance is difficulty digesting the naturally occurring sugar in milk, which can cause stomach discomfort. We have extensive testing protocols in place at our facilities to detect and prevent contamination by dairy components. Anyone with severe allergies should always consult a doctor before introducing a new food.

Can I drink Silk Pure Coconut coconutmilk products if I am lactose intolerant?
Absolutely, because all Silk products are naturally lactose-free.

Can people who are allergic to nuts other than coconut drink Silk Pure Coconut coconutmilk?
We do not make our products using any other nuts. Because Silk Pure Coconut coconutmilk may be processed on equipment that also makes our Silk Pure Almond almondmilk, we have included a note on the label that it may contain almonds. Consumer safety is our highest priority. To help ensure against the risk of unintentional contamination, complete allergen cleanup procedures are standard in our facilities. We have testing protocols in place and we utilize hardware and software to prevent ingredient commingling. Anyone with severe allergies should always consult a doctor before introducing a new food.

Sunrich (Sol Sunflower Seed Beverage)

Soy Dream
Their website shows that "all varieties" of Soy Dream non-dairy beverage are free of dairy ingredients.  I inquired further and this was their email response:

"The Hain Celestial Group's labeling declares major allergens (peanuts, soybeans, milk, eggs, fish, crustaceans, tree nuts, and wheat) and we follow the U.S. FDA's regulations. We recognize the serious nature of the allergen issue and we strive to minimize risk.

Both major and minor ingredients of all products, as well as all processing procedures and equipment, are closely scrutinized and all potential allergen issues as determined by the Hain Celestial Group are declared on our labeling.

We assure you that strict manufacturing processes and procedures are in place and that all of our manufacturing facilities follow rigid allergen control programs that include staff training, segregation of allergen ingredients, production scheduling, and thorough cleaning and sanitation."

However, I also found this post from OneSpot Allergy that you might want to read.

Almond Breeze

Does Almond Breeze® contain any dairy ingredients?
No.  All Almond Breeze products are dairy-free.  They do not contain lactose or casein.
Does Almond Breeze® contain any soy?
No. All Almond Breeze products are soy-free.  They do not contain soy ingredient.
Does Almond Breeze® contain any eggs?
No, Almond Breeze does not contain any egg ingredients.
Does Almond Breeze® contain any peanuts?
No, Almond Breeze does not contain peanuts.
Is Almond Breeze® made in a peanut free plant?
Yes, Almond Breeze is made in a peanut free plant.
Does Almond Breeze® contain wheat or gluten?
No.  Almond Breeze products are wheat and gluten free.


The equipment is “shared equipment”.   An extensive allergen program is in place that ensures:
1.   Complete CIP / clean prior to beginning start up on dairy free production.
      a.  includes testing of rinse water and swab testing
2.   All Ingredients & Packaging are managed per extensive Allergen Separation / GMP program
3.   Product – finished goods are tested to confirm negative for Dairy & Gluten
Cross contamination is extremely unlikely, and has not been an issue at our points of production.

Rice Dream (Enriched Rice Milk)
See Soy Dream...

Pacific Natural Foods (Oat Milk)

Q:   Do your products contain peanuts, eggs, tree nuts, soy, dairy, corn, shellfish, wheat or gluten?

A:   Pacific Natural Foods does not produce anything with peanuts, eggs, or shellfish.  We do produce many gluten-free, soy-free, corn-free, tree nut-free, and dairy-free products.  Please see our product guide for a complete listing of products and the allergen information for each.

Q:   What process do you use to avoid cross contamination between non-allergenic products and products containing an allergen?

A:   Pacific Natural Foods does not produce products with eggs, sesame, shellfish, or peanuts in our facility.  We do produce products containing dairy, soy, tree nuts, and corn.   Every 24 hours, production shuts down for a total cleaning and sterilization of all equipment.  Complete cleaning and sterilization is also performed between runs of dairy and non-dairy items.

To further reduce potential for cross contamination, a thorough cleaning and flushing of all equipment also takes place after running any product containing allergenic ingredients.  The same cleaning is also performed between runs of non-organic and organic products to maintain the integrity of the organic ingredients.

Nonetheless, we cannot guarantee that every minute particle of an ingredient from the previous product is removed.  If you or a family member has a serious allergy to ingredients in any of our products and are concerned about the possibility of cross contamination, we recommend that you do not use our products.

AS ALWAYS, REMEMBER TO READ THE LABEL EVERY TIME, AS INGREDIENTS MAY CHANGE AT ANY TIME.  This information is provided for reference purposes only.