Random Reminders (for my kids)

Always, always, carry your Epi-pen, inhaler, and Benadryl with you. As in, keep it *ON* you.

When in doubt, go without.

Wash your hands before you eat, every time. Besides germs, you never know if you have touched something with milk, egg, or peanut residue on it.

Make sure your dishes are clean.  If your plate or silverware still has unidentifiable goobers stuck to it from the last meal it held, in addition to being totally gross, it could also have  something you can’t have on it.   Get a new one for sure.  (ick)  Oh, and steer clear of anything made in cast iron.  Those things are never (by definition) washed with soap and water and can hold all sorts of trouble in their “seasoning”.

If the person preparing your food speaks English as a second language, eat somewhere else.  You have to feel comfortable that they truly understand what is dangerous for you.

If friends aren’t willing to make compromises for your safety, they’re not good friends.  If a friend is willing to learn about and help you manage your food allergies, be grateful and cherish them!  That is a good friend.

Never use a shared toaster. If you have to, use a toaster oven and line the rack or pan with foil to protect your food from cross-contamination.

Remember, labels can be deceiving.  Test your label reading knowledge at http://www.allergyfreetable.com/food-allergies-label-quiz.php 

Always carry spare safe snacks with you.  You don’t want to get stuck away from home and starving without something safe to eat, or worse, make a bad choice because of it.

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When Labels Lie

Here’s a perfect example of why you have to do more than read the label.  (Every time!)

I found a bag of a popular seasoned tortilla chips in a flavor that read ok for us.  In other words, the ingredients list on the back did not contain any milk, egg, or peanuts.   Warning- when it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.  Because I know they make nacho cheese variations of these chips, I was suspicious and went to the company website to double check.  NOT on the nutrition page, NOT on the product info page, but in the FAQ section, I found a link answering questions about allergens which then contained a link to “Products Not Containing Milk Ingredients”.  Above this list it states,  “The … products included here do not contain milk.”   Below the list (which included the product I was researching), it states, “The above products do not contain milk; however, they are produced on the same line as our products that do contain milk. Although the lines are washed between batches, a slight residue may remain on the line. Individuals who are extremely sensitive may be affected.”

Grrrrr.  Be very, very careful!

According to the FDA, in the U.S., if a product contains any of the 8 major allergens (milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, and soy), the company is required to include this on the ingredients label.  It doesn’t have to be in the “Contains” section, it could be stated in the “Ingredients” section, or sometimes it’s in both places. HOWEVER, if the allergens aren’t in the recipe, but may be present from cross-contamination during processing, i.e. processed in a facility or on the same lines, it is NOT required to be on the label.  In other words, they do have to put it on the label if it “Contains” it, but NOT if it only “May Contain” it.  Clear as mud?  Exactly.  Some manufacturers (God bless them!) have a policy of always using a “May Contain” statement on the label if cross-contamination is possible, but unfortunately, they are not the majority.   Always, always, (always), check!

For further reading on Food Allergen Labeling, visit http://www.fda.gov/food/resourcesforyou/consumers/ucm079311.htm