cspiAfter conducting an investigation into how sesame-allergic consumers can protect themselves, The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) issued a scathing report entitled “Open Sesame: Why Sesame Must Be Disclosed As an Allergen on Food Labels” and renewed calls upon the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to include sesame in their list of allergens that require special labeling.

Some background: An estimated 300,000-500,000 people in the US suffer from sesame allergy. Robert Wood, MD, Director of Pediatric Allergy and Immunology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, is cited in the report as saying: “Sesame allergies have probably increased more than any other type of food allergy over the past 10 to 20 years. They’re now clearly one of the six or seven most common allergens in the U.S.”

The Food Allergy Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA) mandates manufacturers clearly label when any of eight allergens (peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, milk, wheat, soy, fish, shellfish) are ingredients of a food product. Others, like sesame, can be listed under obscure names such as  “spices” or “natural flavoring”.

CSPI enlisted the help of families affected by sesame allergy to compile a list of companies that do not disclose sesame in ingredient lists or voluntary allergen statements. The organization then contacted companies on the list to inquire about their sesame disclosure practices.

The results were shocking: many of the companies contacted would not disclose the sesame content of their products even when responding to direct inquiries. The report states:

The prevalence of nondisclosure among food-makers we contacted suggests a pervasive and dangerous lack of information about a life-threatening risk for consumers. Indeed, of the dozens of food makers contacted, only three – Kraft, General Mills, and Mondelez – include sesame currently in allergen labeling for products. Some companies, like Frito-Lay, do not warn of sesame content on product packaging but will disclose sesame content if a consumer calls to request information. But many companies – including major food manufacturers that make dozens of products – do not disclose the presence of sesame on labels and will not tell a consumer if they ask for that information. The task of conducting meticulous research to determine whether foods are safe to eat is a risky system that should not be imposed upon the public.

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estheticianThe September Issue of The Journal of Dermatology includes a case report by Akiko Yagami, MD, from the Fujita Health University School of Medicine, of a 30 year old woman who suffered anaphylactic symptoms after eating soy. She had no history of soy allergy or eczema prior to becoming an esthetician at age 23, but started developing symptoms of itchy eczema a few months after starting working with cosmetic lotions.

She tested positive to an IgE test for soy as well as for skin prick tests to soy extract, soy milk, and a cosmetic lotion frequently used by the patient.

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hopefloatsTwo women who served on the boards of disaster relief organizations in the wake of Superstorm Sandy decided to continue their work to support Long Island families. Together, Theresa DePietto and Jennifer Aulino founded Hope Floats, a non-profit providing financial and logistical assistance to Long Island families affected by medical emergencies, disabilities, loss, and poverty.

At the beginning of the school year, Theresa, Jennifer and a team of volunteers assembled and distributed packets to families of the Babylon school where Theresa’s daughter Ava is a student. Each packet provided educational information about food allergies, a copy of the Safe Snack Guide, and samples of two peanut butter alternatives, SunButter and WowButter (both members of the SnackSafely.com Manufacturer Partnership.)

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Now that the kids are back readin’, ritin’ and ‘rithmetickin, it’s time for the 2015 Back-to-School update of the Safe Snack Guide and Allergence! We’re pleased to announce the addition of new products from the latest member to join our Manufacturer Partnership as well as new offers.

New Partner

PhillySwirlPhillySwirl – specializes in refreshing Philadelphia-style Italian ice products that are swirled together in delicious flavor combinations. Their products featured in the Guide are all marketed free of the “Top 8” allergens including peanuts, tree nuts and eggs. Click here to learn more about their products including their store finder.

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lianneLast week, Lianne Mandelbaum – founder of the No Nut Traveler blog – was featured on NPR’s Here & Now to discuss the difficulties of traveling by air with a severe peanut allergy.

Lianne describes the need for early boarding, buffer zones, and stock epinephrine on every flight. The 10 minute segment entitled A Push To Make Flying Safer For People With Peanut Allergies is well worth the time and you can listen to it here:

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FB-SmileDo you suffer from itchiness or swelling of the mouth when eating certain raw fruits or vegetables? Do you suffer from seasonal allergies? Then you may also be suffering from Oral Allergy Syndrome (OAS), a response caused when the immune system reacts to similar proteins that exist both in pollen and foods.

OAS symptoms occur shortly after a food is ingested but may present up to an hour later. The symptoms include itchiness or swelling of the lips, mouth, tongue or throat, and generally do not progress beyond the mouth. Because the symptoms resolve quickly once the food is removed, treatment is rarely necessary.

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A generally happy time of year for most parents is often fraught with anxiety for parents of children with food allergies. Will my child be safe? Will she feel an outcast at the nut-free table? Will they use his auto-injector quickly and correctly if he suffers a reaction? Will the teacher follow the details of his 504 plan?

Here’s a message to all you moms and dads who have prepared by sweating every little detail, like quizzing the allergist, coaching their children, and engaging with the school administration: Take a deep breath, relax with your favorite cup of coffee (or glass of wine!) and know that you’ve done the best for your child. You are your child’s superhero!

Be Inclusive!While no superhero is infallible, this is not the time to second guess all that you’ve done. Rest assured that there’s always time to reengage with school administration if things aren’t going the way you anticipated.

Did a child show up to your child’s nut-free classroom with a PB&J? Was there a class celebration involving a food that you didn’t approve? Did someone question your child self-carrying an auto-injector when it was agreed prior to the school year? Speak up, and be confident in the knowledge that your fellow FA parents are doing the same, everywhere.

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mini-chipsEnjoy Life Foods, a long time member of the SnackSafely.com Manufacturer Partnership, has issued a nationwide voluntary recall of a specific lot of their Semi-Sweet Chocolate Mini Chips due to possible contamination with sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and/or dried fruits that were inadvertently added to the product.

The recall is limited to product sold in the US, identified as follows:

Product Description: Enjoy Life Semi-Sweet Chocolate Mini Chips, 10 oz. bag
Retail UPC 853522 000306
Best By Date Jun 18 2016 (found on back right of package)

The issue was brought to the attention of the company via communication from a consumer. One possible reaction has been reported to date.

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SunButter_01LogoSunbutter, manufacturer of the leading peanut-butter alternative and a long-time member of the SnackSafely.com Manufacturer Partnership, has published a free recipe book designed specifically for school food services.

The resource, entitled School Safe Foodservice Recipes, provides 17 peanut and tree nut free recipes schools can use to help implement nut-free school policies.

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SSG-Update-FB-BlogIconWe’re pleased to announce the addition of many products from new and existing members of our Manufacturer Partnership as well as clarifications to text that appears on our cover page.

New Partners

SnackSafely.com welcomes two manufacturers that have joined our partnership, now numbering over 50 companies. By doing so, they have committed to providing much greater disclosure regarding their processing of 11 allergens than is required by the FDA on the label.

Logo GOE 73x73Goetze’s Candy is a family owned company located in Baltimore, Maryland. Founded in 1895, Goetze’s Candy has been making sweet treats in the USA for over 120 years. The firm produces iconic Caramel Creams® and Cow Tales®, both manufactured in a facility free of peanuts and tree nuts. Click here to learn more about Goetze’s and their products.

Logo TRP 73x73Triann’s Pantry specializes in quick, easy, delicious baking mixes free of gluten, dairy, soy, egg, peanut, tree nut, rice and corn that are manufactured in their own dedicated facility free of these allergens. Click here to learn more about Triann’s and their products.

New Products

PAS Logo 73x73We’ve added organic, dark chocolate chips and mini-bars from the Pascha Chocolate Company. Pascha specializes in gourmet dark chocolate completely free of all 8 major allergens (and more) with no taste compromise. Click here to learn more about Pascha and their products.

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