Please note that we have removed a number of products from the Safe Snack Guide:
- Ritz Crackers – all varieties.
We received a report that two sleeves of the Peanut Butter variety of Ritz Crackerfuls were packaged in a box of the Classic Cheddar variety. Though the individual sleeves were clearly labeled as containing the Peanut Butter variety, this could have led to unthinkable consequences had the error not been discovered by an observant parent before the treat was given to a child.
Once again, world attention is focused on the story of a 15 year old boy from the UK who died of peanut cross-contact. Rather than focus solely on the incident itself, we’ll highlight common sense strategies to help avoid tragedies like this in the first place.
William Luckett had had his first food allergy reaction at four years old and was diagnosed with a nut allergy at age six. At that time he was given a prescription for epinephrine auto-injectors which he never needed to use. Over time, with the absence of reactions, the family stopped filling the prescriptions.
In December 2012, William was visiting his father on the Isle of Wight and was having ribs for dinner, takeout from a local Chinese restaurant. He began experiencing classic symptoms of anaphylaxis: difficulty breathing and swelling of the lips. Despite his father’s efforts, William lost consciousness and was pronounced dead upon arrival at a local hospital.
As many of our readers are well aware, peanuts are the leading cause of severe food-related allergic reactions in the US. Though Oral Immunotherapy (OIT) and related treatments that expose the subject to flour containing small, but increasing amounts of peanut protein are showing promise, there is a danger of anaphylactic reaction throughout the therapy.
Researchers at North Carolina State University’s Plants for Human Health Institute are experimenting with new therapy media that combine the traditional peanut flour used in OIT with plant polyphenols found in many fruits and vegetables. When the peanut protein in the flour is bound to polyphenols derived from plants like blackcurrant, cinnamon, cranberry and green tea, they appear to become much less allergenic in lab tests. Tests in mice with a cranberry derivative/peanut flour combination appeared to trigger the desired desensitization without the dangerous reactions that can occur.
Once again, a child’s death caused by anaphylaxis is receiving attention in the media, this time in the UK. The loss is yet another in a long line of horrific, preventable tragedies, but there are lessons to be learned from the details of the child’s exposure and the subsequent attempts at first aid.
Connor Donaldson, a 12 year-old boy from Greater Manchester with severe asthma and a severe peanut allergy, died October 19, 2013 after ingesting a few bites of curry the family had taken out from a nearby restaurant.
His mother had discussed the allergy with a staff member of the restaurant over the phone prior to ordering. She was assured that their dishes would contain no peanuts.
The food allergy community was abuzz last week with the news that Mary Baxley, a paraprofessional at Holiday Hill Elementary School in Jacksonville, Florida, received a 10-day suspension for bringing peanut butter cookies to celebrate a student’s birthday in a peanut-free classroom. But what should parents of children with food allergies learn from the incident?
Chantel Giacalone, a 27 year old actress and model with a severe peanut allergy from West Bloomfield, MI, was visiting a friend in Las Vegas a year ago. On February 20, 2013, she unknowingly bit into a pretzel that contained peanut butter and suffered full-blown anaphylaxis.
“She went into cardiac arrest twice – four and a half minutes both times,” said Maria Lamia, Chantel’s aunt.
Chantel was placed on life support in a hospital in Las Vegas. Thousands of dollars were raised to have her airlifted to a hospital in Michigan, where she was finally released in November.
The results of a 3 year study of the effectiveness of Oral Immunotherapy (OIT) for desensitization of peanut allergy in children was published today in the medical journal The Lancet.
The study, co-sponsored by the University of Cambridge and Addenbrooke’s Hospital, followed 85 children aged 7-16 with confirmed peanut allergy from January 2010 through March 2013.
In yet another horrific tragedy that could have been avoided, 14 year old Emma Sloan died on the streets of Dublin Wednesday after ingesting a sauce containing peanuts at a restaurant.
Emma, who had a known peanut allergy, was having dinner with her family at Jimmy Chung’s Chinese buffet in Dublin’s Eden Quay. Emma’s mother Caroline explains what happened in this quote from the Irish Independent:
“Emma has always been very careful and would check the ingredients of every chocolate bar and other foods to be sure they didn’t contain nuts. She had a satay sauce. She thought it was curry sauce because it looked like curry sauce and smelt like curry.
“I’m not blaming the restaurant because there was a sign saying ‘nuts contained’, but it wasn’t noticed. After a while, Emma began to say, ‘I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe’.”
An excellent piece entitled: “What Should Airlines Do About Children With Peanut Allergies?” appeared in the New York Times “Motherlode: Adventures in Parenting” blog section yesterday.
The article by Abby Ellin makes the case for better accommodation of people with food allergies by the airlines. She details the experiences of two families, the Silvermans and Mandelbaums, both of which experienced humiliation at the hands of airline personnel. Our readers may find these anecdotes all too familiar.
According to US News and World Report, a study presented this week at a meeting of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) described the case of a boy who was cured of his peanut allergy after a bone marrow transplant.
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