- popchips – The innovative popped snack company offers an extensive line of potato and veggie chips that are certified gluten-free, trans and saturated fat-free and free of preservatives and artificial ingredients. Several of the company’s products also recently received non-GMO verification and are manufactured in a facility free of seven of the top eight allergens.
- Winona Pure – Winona Foods® of Green Bay markets a line of cooking oils under the Winona Pure® brand, all manufactured in a peanut, tree nut and sesame-free facility. Their specialized packaging allows them to offer Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Canola, Sunflower and Popcorn Butter flavored oils in a convenient spray without the need for chemical propellants or additives.
In positive news, DBV Technologies, a French firm developing skin patch therapies for various allergens, issued a press release announcing their Viaskin® Peanut patch has received “Breakthrough Therapy” (BT) designation from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
DBV describes Viaskin as “an electrostatic patch, based on Epicutaneous Immunotherapy, or EPIT®, which administers an allergen directly onto the superficial layers of the skin to activate the immune system by specifically targeting antigen-presenting cells without allowing passage of the antigen into the bloodstream.”
When it comes to food allergies, there are two trends in the United States today. First, we have lax labeling requirements that have spawned non-standard, voluntary allergen warnings that lead to confusion among the most vulnerable. Second, the allergic demographic is growing rapidly, and – though food companies are slowly taking notice – they are unsure how to engage.
Tracy Bush – author, advocate, and blogger, who is also known to the food allergy community as Nutrimom – has written an excellent article for the current edition of Food Safety Magazine entitled “Food Companies & Food Allergies: Unite!”, explaining how companies can gain a loyal following by applying some basic precepts to their labeling and production.
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According to a study published today in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, allergies to specific foods can be passed via blood transfusions, though such cases are extremely rare.
The research was initiated after an eight year old Canadian boy with no history of food allergies suddenly experienced an anaphylactic reaction to salmon after receiving a transfusion of platelets as part of ongoing chemotherapy treatment. Four days later he had a reaction to peanuts.
Investigators traced the source of the platelets and found that a single donor had multiple severe food allergies including fish and peanuts.
Though extremely rare, researchers found that food allergies can be passed through an antibody that reacts against allergens, immunoglobulin E (IgE). IgE is found in blood platelets.
Food challenge: where the patient consumes a food they may be allergic to while the medical staff hovers nearby, ready to inject epinephrine if the symptoms of a severe allergic reaction appear. Low-tech, dangerous, and the only reliable way to test how severely someone may react to an allergen. Until now.
A blood test resulting from a study led by researchers from The Mindich Child Health and Development Institute and the Jaffe Food Allergy Institute promises to predict which people will have severe allergic reactions to specific foods. The study was published yesterday in The Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology accompanied by a press release by Mount Sinai.
Current testing relies on skin pricks and blood tests that detect proteins called allergen-specific IgE produced by the immune system, though these cannot accurately predict the severity of reactions. The study reports that measuring another immune system component, the basophil, can accurately predict how a person will react to specific allergens. The basophil activation test (BAT) requires only a small amount of blood and provides quick results.
“While providing crucial information about their potential for a severe allergic reaction to a food, having blood drawn for BAT testing is a much more comfortable procedure than food challenges.” says first author Ying Song, MD. “Although food challenges are widely practiced, they carry the risk of severe allergic reactions, and we believe BAT testing will provide accurate information in a safer manner.”
Note that BAT testing is currently only approved for research study.
By now you’ve probably read the Allergic Living article about two families that have filed lawsuits after losing their sons to anaphylaxis. The details are horrific, as they always are when a child is taken by allergic reactions.
In one case, a boy of 16 from Minnesota died from an anaphylactic reaction when it turned out the pancake he was eating at a restaurant was contaminated with milk. The family did not have his auto-injectors on-hand and had to rush him home, but by then it was too late.
In the other, an 11 year old Alabama boy died from a severe reaction to a supermarket cookie. Though an employee assured the family that the cookie contained no tree nuts, it did in fact contain walnuts. His mother administered Benadryl once the symptoms presented themselves and at some point afterward administered his auto-injector, but despite being airlifted to the hospital he could not be resuscitated.
These deaths are every parent’s nightmare, especially for those of us who are part of the community of kids with food allergies. But if there is anything to be redeemed from these tragedies, it is what can be learned to prevent them from happening to other children.
With no disrespect or judgement meant for the grieving parents of these boys, and knowing nothing more about the circumstances that lead to their reactions, let’s remind ourselves of what we can do to prevent occurrences similar to these in the future.
It’s spring time and that means it’s time for the Easter Edition of the Safe Snack Guide!
We’ve added a full page of Easter-themed goodies free of peanuts, tree nuts, and (in many cases) eggs. Some can be purchased at the corner market, others can be ordered on-line.
Once again, apologies to our readers who celebrate Passover. We are still searching for safe products that are nut-free and certified kosher for the holiday. If you know of any such products, please let us know.
Please note that we have removed two products from the Safe Snack Guide due to a disclosure from the manufacturer.
After a discussion with Lisa Guzzo, Consumer Relations Manager of Just Born Quality Confections, we have decided to delist MIKE AND IKE® and HOT TAMALES® from the Guide.
While these iconic products are manufactured in a facility that does not process peanuts or tree nuts, a small portion of their products are packaged by third-parties that may use equipment that is also used for products containing these allergens. Although the firm’s labeling policy includes voluntarily labeling for potential cross contamination of the “Top 8″ allergens, we have decided to remove their products from the Guide in keeping with our policies. Consumers should address questions or concerns regarding Just Born brands by calling them toll free at 1-888-645-3453 or visiting them online at www.justborn.com.
There’s a good reason why we refer to Erin Brockovich as “The Robyn O’Brien of Environmental Issues”.
Ms O’Brien – author, TED speaker, founder of AllergyKids Foundation, and leading advocate for clean, safe, affordable food – hits yet another ball out of the park with her editorial on the recent LEAP (Learning Early about Peanut Allergy) Study. In it, she excoriates the media, study’s authors, and quoted physicians for a lack of disclosure regarding the funding and selection of subjects for the study.
Here’s a sample from the article:
That’s like conducting a diabetes study on sugar and throwing out the diabetics before you start. It skews the results to suggest a false positive when if the food had been given to the entire population, without pre-screening, the results would have been entirely different.
On February 23rd at this year’s annual meeting of the American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI) in Houston, a study was presented regarding incidence of anaphylaxis in schools during the 2013-2014 school year, confirming the need for stock epinephrine.
Of 5683 schools that responded to the study survey, a total of 919 anaphylactic events were reported by 11% of the schools. Here’s a quick breakdown:
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