Category Archives: allergens

The tremendous importance of food allergy awareness

FoodFacts.com wanted to devote this blog post in honor of 13-year-old Natalie Giorgi who tragically died on Saturday, July 27th from a severe allergic reaction to peanut butter while she was attending Camp Sacramento in El Dorado County, California.
The 13 year-old was vigilant about what she ate. Family and friends say that she always made sure that her food did not contain her allergen. She was educated and aware about keeping herself safe from her severe food allergy. Her parents were vigilant in educating her and keeping her safe.

The Giorgi family were vacationing at the popular Camp Sacramento. They had enjoyed their week together and on the last evening of their vacation, they attended a campfire with other guests. Knowing that there were snacks available in the lodge as after campfire treats, Natalie went in to help herself.

The lights in the lodge had been dimmed. There were three varieties of Rice Krispies treats available for the group. Sadly, Natalie had reached for a treat topped with icing. The icing had been prepared with peanut butter. She spit the offending Rice Krispy treat out right away and ran to find her mom to tell her she had tasted something containing peanut butter.

Her parents, Sacramento urologist Dr. Louis Giorgi and his wife, Joanne, responded immediately. Natalie’s mother tasted the treat and also detected peanuts. She gave Natalie Benadryl right away. They monitored their daughter, who at first seemed fine. But twenty minutes later, she vomited and began to have trouble breathing.

Natalie’s father administered an injection with an EpiPen, a device used to deliver epinephrine that is commonly carried by individuals with serious allergies. An EpiPen can ward off a sever allergic reaction, but this time it didn’t. Natalie’s dad used three EipPens over the course of several minutes before Natalie stopped breathing.

Natalie’s parents are reaching out to others in their grief, releasing the following statement:

“While our hearts are breaking over the tragic loss of our beautiful daughter Natalie, it is our hope that others can learn from this and realize that nut and food allergies are life threatening. Caution and care for those inflicted should always be supported and taken.”

Dr. and Mrs. Giorgi and Natalie, this blog is for you.

Peanuts are the most prevalent allergen in food allergic children, followed by milk and shellfish, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. Reactions could range from minor irritation to life-threatening anaphylaxis, a dangerous immune system reaction that requires immediate treatment with an EpiPen and trip to the emergency room. Symptoms can include skin reactions like hives, redness or swelling or itching and tingling in the mouth and throat, digestive problems like diarrhea, cramps or vomiting, tightening of the throat, shortness of breath and runny nose.

It’s not just peanut-allergy afflicted children and their parents that need to be aware and vigilant, it’s also everyone that they come in contact with. There’s a reason there are peanut free tables in school cafeterias. And there’s a reason that buffet tables in restaurants often put a tent card next to desserts that contain peanuts … as well as a reason that many food manufacturers have voluntarily labeled products that are produced in facilities that also manufacture foods containing peanut ingredients. Parents and children can be as vigilant as possible, but as this tragic situation proves, they really do need a little help, because spitting out the offending food item isn’t enough to prevent a tragedy sometimes.

So FoodFacts.com feels that this is an appropriate time to remind our community that  if you’re preparing snacks for your child’s class, or you’re having people to your home for dinner, or you’re bringing a dish to a potluck, it’s worth asking if anyone has any specific food allergies and preparing foods accordingly. It’s a small part we can all play in helping children – and adults – stay safe from potentially life threatening situations. Natalie and her loving family and friends will appreciate our efforts.

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-204_162-57596190/13-year-old-dies-at-sacramento-camp-from-peanut-allergy-despite-receiving-medicine/

Can gradual exposure help eliminate food allergies?

FoodFacts.com is very sensitive to members of our community experiencing the effects of food allergies. We know – on the lower end of the scale – how frustrating it can be to not be able to eat the simple foods others are able to enjoy. And on the higher end of that same scale, the very real danger that exists from being exposed to even minor amounts of the allergen. It’s a difficult situation. And folks are constantly bombarding allergy sufferers and their family members with non-medical, unproven advice.

Especially when those well-meaning people are suggesting that you expose yourself or your allergic loved one to the very substance that provokes the allergy in the first place.
But there is new research emerging that is suggesting that those annoying suggestions may actually carry some amount of truthfulness. Treating food allergies through oral immunotherapy might actually improve tolerance to the specific food allergen and decrease the severity of the allergic reaction. It does sound somewhat crazy and scary, especially if the allergy sufferer is a child.

But that’s exactly the group that this study explored. 55 children, between the ages of five and eleven, who had mild to moderate allergies to eggs were the focus. They were each exposed to either egg-white powder or a cornstarch placebo mixed into their daily diets. The amounts of egg white or placebo were continually increased each day over a three years. After about 10 months, over half of the children were able to tolerate a little more than half an egg’s worth of egg-white powder with no allergic reactions. After 22 months, three-quarters of the children consuming the egg-white powder could now ingest up to 10 grams (about a whole egg). At the conclusion of the study 11 of the children were considered to be allergy free and were capable of eating eggs whenever they wanted to without experiencing any reactions.

It is unclear from the results of this study whether or not the oral immunotherapy was the sole cause of the improvements noted in food allergies. Food allergies in children are often outgrown completely or can improve over time, with reactions decreasing in frequency and severity. It’s also of the utmost importance to note that severely allergic children were not studied during this research.

While proving the efficacy of oral immunotherapy for people with food allergies would mean tremendously positive lifestyle changes for the food allergic among us, the concept is still somewhat frightening and dangerous.  While FoodFacts.com hopes to see more research and hear agreement amongst doctors that there will be oral immunotherapy programs prescribed under strict physician’s supervision, we’re still in favor of food avoidance and diet adjustment.

You can read more here: http://www.medpagetoday.com/allergyimmunology/allergy/33816

Bug Colors. Are Cochineal Beetles in Your Food?

Here at FoodFacts.com, we have been fielding several inquiries on colors extracted from Cochineal Beetles over the past few weeks.

 

Most recently, this topic has been the talk of the town following a news report on the subject, which revealed that the coloring created from the Cochineal Beetles was used in a Starbucks Strawberry Frappuccino drink. This has caused both vegans and non-vegans alike to criticize the coffee chain, both on the ick factor and the notion that vegans are unknowingly ingesting animal products when consuming the drink in question.

 

But the use of color from Cochineal Beetles is nothing new. The colors created from the beetles are cochineal extract and carmine, the latter of which was recently the focus of a controversial ingredient day on the FoodFacts Facebook page. The colors are extracted from the female Cochineal Beetles, which are raised in Peru, the Canary Islands, and elsewhere, and provides a red, pink or purple color to the products it is in.

 

What many people don’t realize when questioning the “bug ingredients” is that such colors could illicit a severe allergic reaction in some people. Over the past several years, doctors both in the United States and outside of the country have determined that colorings could cause allergic reactions, such as sneezing, asthma and even anaphylactic shock.

 

Both carmine and cochineal extract can be found in food items such as candies, juices, ice creams and yogurts. It can also be found in certain medicines, including cough drops. Finally, these ingredients can be found in dyed cosmetic products, such as lipstick.

 

So how does one avoid it? By reading the ingredients on the packaging and knowing what colors are derived from the beetles, you should be able to avoid the products if you need to because of an allergy, or want to because of the ick factor. Knowledge is power, after all.

 

We here at FoodFacts are wishing you the best!

Food Recalls!

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BUI Natural Tofu of Portland, OR, has recalled its shrimp salad and vegetarian salad rolls because they contain undeclared soy and wheat.

People who have an allergy or severe sensitivity to soy and wheat run the risk of serious or life-threatening allergic reaction if they consume such products.

The recall was initiated after the Oregon Department of Agriculture found that soy and wheat ingredients weren’t listed on the product labels. No illnesses have been reported in connection with the salad rolls.

The salad rolls containing undeclared allergens are:

– Shrimp Salad Roll with the UPC number 8 95467 00203 8.

– Vegetarian Salad Roll with the UPC number 8 95467 00204 5.

These salad rolls were distributed to retail stores in the Portland metropolitan area and sold under the “BUI Fresh from the Bean” brand.

The products are packaged in a tray with a clear plastic wrapper, and are coded with a white sticker identifying expiration dates from 9/2 through 9/13. The products are refrigerated and have a shelf life of about three days.

Consumers may return them the recalled salad rolls to the place of purchase for a full refund. Consumers with questions may contact the company at 503-803-3059 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Pacific Time.

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Watkins Inc. of Winona, MN, is recalling 1,535 units of its individual 7.7 ounce containers of SoyNilla protein powder, because of an undeclared milk ingredient. SoyNilla was distributed nationwide through the Watkins network of independent contractors, associates and mail orders.

The recall was initiated after a routine review revealed that the product contained milk but that ingredient was not listed on the label, indicating a temporary breakdown of the company’s allergen identification process.

No illnesses have been reported.

People who have an allergy or severe sensitivity to milk may run the risk of serious or life-threatening allergic reactions in consuming it. Symptoms may include hives, wheezing, vomiting, anaphylaxis and digestive problems, such as bloating, gas or diarrhea.

The vanilla-flavored protein powder comes in a 7.7 ounce, white plastic package marked with lot #3000280 on the side of the package.

Consumers who purchased the 7.7 ounce of SoyNilla may call for a return or credit instructions. Consumers with questions may contact the company at 1-800-243-9423 from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., CT, Monday through Friday.

(FoodSafetyNews.com)

One in Twelve U.S. Children May suffer from Food Allergies

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Foodfacts.com realizes that more and more children are now suffering from food allergies. Nearly 6 million U.S. children or about one in 12 kids are allergic to at least one food, with peanuts, milk and shellfish topping the list of the most common allergens, a new study finds.

Researchers conducted a nationally representative survey of the parents of more than 40,000 children. About 8 percent reported having a child who had a food allergy. Of those, about 30 percent said their child was allergic to multiple foods.

Among kids with food allergies, 25 percent were allergic to peanuts, 21 percent were allergic to milk and 17 percent had an allergy to shellfish. Those were followed by tree nuts (13 percent), eggs (nearly 10 percent), finned fish (6 percent), strawberries (5 percent), wheat (5 percent), and soy (just under 5 percent).

While the study was a snapshot of the prevalence of food allergies in America and did not track change over time, researchers said anecdotal evidence — including reports from schools and the numbers of patients coming in to allergists’ offices — suggests that the rate is rising.

“Eight percent is a pretty significant amount of kids,” said lead study author Dr. Ruchi Gupta, an assistant professor of pediatrics at Northwestern University and a pediatrician at Children’s Memorial Hospital, both in Chicago. “We are seeing a lot more cases. We are seeing a lot more in schools than we used to see. It does seem that food allergy is on the rise.”

The study is published in the July issue of Pediatrics.

Allergic reactions to foods can range from mild to severe. In the survey, about 61 percent of food allergic children had a mild to moderate reaction, including swelling of the lips and face, hives, itching, flushing or an eczema flare.

The remaining 39 percent had a severe or even potentially life-threatening reaction known as anaphylaxis — wheezing and trouble breathing, vomiting, swelling, persistent coughing that indicates airway swelling and a dangerous drop in blood pressure.

The foods most commonly associated with a severe reaction included tree nuts and peanuts, shellfish, soy and finned fish.eatingpeanutsduringpregnancymayincreasechildrensriskoffoodallergies_2248_800211243_0_0_7052658_300

“Especially for kids with multiple food allergies, it complicates their lives and makes it really tough on these kids to avoid multiple foods to stay healthy and stay alive,” Gupta said.

Parents of children with food allergies should always carry antihistamine and an epinephrine shot (i.e., an EpiPen) with them, Gupta said. Even with those close at hand, witnessing a child having a serious food reaction can be terrifying for parents, who don’t know how bad it’s going to get and need to decide within moments whether to administer the shot and call 911.

Often, reactions happen when parents least expect them — while they’re at a family gathering or some other social event, and the child accidentally ingests something.

Dr. Susan Schuval, a pediatric allergist at Cohen Children’s Medical Center in New Hyde Park, N.Y., agreed that food allergies seem to be getting more common.

“We are seeing tons and tons of food allergies. There also seems to be an increase from what we’ve seen in the past,” Schuval said.

Right now, the only treatment available to most food allergic kids is avoidance. For parents and children, that means paying close attention to labels, taking precautions when eating out, bringing along their own food when they travel or go to social events such as birthday parties. It also means educating teachers, caregivers and other parents who may have their kids over to play about using an epinephrine shot and the seriousness of the allergy.

“They need to maintain their full alertness out of the home, in the schools and in restaurants,” Schuval said.

For some children, food allergies get better over time. Previous research has found many kids outgrow allergies to milk, egg, soy and wheat. Fewer outgrow peanut, tree nut, fish and shellfish allergies.

A wheat allergy is different from celiac disease, in which wheat cannot be digested properly and, over time, damages the lining of the intestines.

For more information on food allergies and how to avoid them check out blog.foodfacts.com.

Information provided by: MSN News