Category Archives: food allergy

Tremendous cost of children’s food allergies estimated at almost $25 Billion!

FoodFacts.com has always been dedicated to helping those with food allergies determine what is actually safe for them to eat. Our website allows members to track their allergens and those of their loved ones and children for free, so that they can be alerted if a product they’ve purchased or are intending to purchase contains the ingredient harmful to them or their families. Children’s food allergies are, undoubtedly, the most concerning. They can range from mild to moderate to severe. And just this past summer, the death of a young girl brought the attention of our country to the importance of vigilance regarding food allergies.

Today we learned that children’s food allergies are costing the United States about $25 Billion every year in medical fees, lost work productivity and other family expenses. Childhood food allergies cost the United States about $25 billion a year in medical fees, lost work productivity and family expenses, according to a new study. The study comes from Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago and the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

Food allergies affect about 8 percent of children in the United States. Researchers noted that in addition to the significant costs related to our health-care system, food allergies create financial burden for families due to required expenses associated with special diets and the purchase of allergen-free foods.

The researchers surveyed more than 1,600 caregivers of a child with a food allergy. The most common allergies were peanut (about 29 percent), milk (22 percent) and shellfish (19 percent).

Annual food-allergy-related costs were nearly $4,200 per child, which works out to $24.8 billion a year nationwide. The national total includes $4.3 billion in direct medical costs and $20.5 billion in costs to families.

Hospitalizations accounted for the largest amount of direct medical costs, at $1.9 billion. Costs for outpatient visits to allergists reached $819 million, emergency-room visits were $764 million and pediatrician visits were $543 million.

Special diets and allergen-free foods cost families $1.7 billion a year, the study estimated. The cost of lost work productivity that occurs when caregivers take their children to medical visits is $773 million a year.

Researchers concluded that childhood food allergies in the U.S. place considerable economic burden on both families and the society as a whole. They emphasized that research to develop effective food allergy treatment and a cure is critical.

FoodFacts.com strongly feels that food allergy awareness is critical to our nutritional awareness. This new research adds a new dimension to that statement. Everyone involved in the lives of children has a responsibility to be sensitive to the needs of food-allergic kids. We all need to understand the devastating effects food allergies can have on the lives of children and their families and go out of our way to accommodate those needs. We hope that based on research like this, both the scientific and medical communities go to work on tackling this tremendous problem, which is obviously not just causing physical and emotional stress, but financial stress as well.

http://healthyliving.msn.com/diseases/allergies/costs-for-kids-food-allergies-estimated-at-nearly-dollar25-billion-1

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/

If you’ve got food allergies, you may soon be able to find allergens in food with your smart-phone!

FoodFacts.com knows firsthand how many people in our population are affected by food allergies. Peanuts, dairy, soy, dairy, wheat … the list goes on. It’s such a serious issue – especially for our children. And, we know that it’s entirely possible that foods you think are safe and do not contain your allergens can actually fool you in the worst possible way.

Today we read about a marvelous new piece of technology that we wanted to share with our community. Coming out of the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied science is a new device called the iTube. This new technology attaches to a smart-phone and can detect allergens in food samples. It uses the phone’s camera and works with a smart-phone app that runs a test that actually boasts the same level of sensitivity as a common lab test. It’s pretty amazing.

Because food allergies can be life-threatening and because even though there are labeling laws regarding common food allergens, research into products like this one have been ongoing. Cross-contaminations can still occur during processing, manufacturing and transportation. The products that have been developed to date have been large and complicated, they haven’t been embraced at all. Using them in common settings has been burdensome and discouraged their use by consumers.

Understanding the need for an accurate product that would accomplish the same goals, the researchers set out to address these issues by creating a product that could easily work for the food allergic population. The iTube weighs just two ounces and is designed to test the allergen concentration of foods through a test called a colorimetric assay.

The user grinds up the food in question and mixes it in a test tube with hot water and a special solvent. After letting the mixture set for a few minutes, the user follows a procedure to ready the sample for testing. The sample is then measured for the concentration of the allergen through the iTube. The iTube and iTube app take the process one step further for users. Instead of just a yes or no regarding whether or not the allergen is present, it actually tells the user how much of that allergen is present.

While the product has been successfully tested, it isn’t yet available for consumers. But it does appear that it’s headed our way. FoodFacts.com will keep our community updated on the progress made in bringing it to market. We’d love for you to be among the first to know when you can try it for yourself! Meanwhile, you can read more here:
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121212205 920.htm

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

India sues Monsanto for “Biopiracy”

gmo
Foodfacts.com brings to you the latest in genetic engineering. Just recently, India has decided to fight against major agribusiness, Monsanto, after the company allegedly genetically modified an eggplant crop without consent. India is considering this as “biopiracy”, and not backing down from this fight. Check it out below!

Brought to you by Huffington Post:

Add a new word to your lexicon: Biopiracy.

That’s what U.S.-based agribusiness giant Monsanto has been accused of in India, where the government is planning to charge the company with violating the country’s biodiversity laws over a genetically modified version of eggplant.eggplant

In doing so, India has placed itself at the focal point of the movement to challenge genetically modified crops, which opponents say are destroying traditional crops and threatening farmers’ livelihoods.

“This can send a … message to the big companies [that] they are violating the laws of the nation,” K.S. Sugara of the Karnataka Biodiversity Board told France 24 (see video below). “It is not acceptable … that the farmers in our communities are robbed of the advantage they should get from the indigenous varieties.”

India announced last month it is pursuing charges against Monsanto for “stealing” an indigenous crop — eggplant — and using it to create a modified version without permission, a violation of India’s decade-old Biological Diversity Act. It’s the first prosecution of a company for the act of “biopiracy” in the country, and possibly the world.

At the heart of the issue is the phenomenon of the commercialization of indigenous knowledge. Indian farmers argue that they developed the strains of eggplant grown in India over generations, and Monsanto has no right to come in and build a product out of their own indigenous species.

Monsanto took locally-grown eggplant “without any conformance with the biological diversity act, and therefore it is biopiracy,” said Leo Saldanha, director of the Environmental Support Group, an Indian NGO. Saldanha filed the initial complaint that prompted India to pursue charges.

It is not actually illegal to develop GM foods from indigenous crops in India, but the the government placed a moratorium on eggplant development last year after an outcry from farmers. It’s this moratorium that Monsanto is accused of breaking.

However, in the month since the government announced it intends to file charges, no actual charges have been laid. France24 correspondent Vikram Singh said India may be coming under pressure from Monsanto and other multinationals not to pursue the case.

But Singh said government officials insist they are simply taking their time to build a water-tight case.

Farmers’ opposition to Monsanto and genetically modified crops in India goes back to before the eggplant controversy, and traces its roots at least partly to an earlier controversy about genetically modified cotton.

After successfully introducing GM cotton to India, Monsanto was besieged by bad publicity when a failed crop allegedly caused farmers to commit suicide. Crop failures are common in India, but when the GM cotton crop failed, the farmers growing it were saddled with enormous debt.

By some counts, the suicide toll related to GM crop failure is in the hundreds of thousands, though some observers have challenged that notion.

The company has also been accused of using child labor in its cotton seed production operations.

Monsanto has largely refused to comment to the media about the eggplant controversy, but France24 reported that the company is blaming its Indian sub-contractor for the unauthorized use of eggplant species.

France 24’s Singh said the case “will have ramifications beyond this incident. … It’s hugely important because how they handle this will set precedent for cases in the future.”

The stakes for Monsanto are huge. Besides cotton and eggplant, the company sees an enormous potential market for genetically modified corn in India. The St. Louis-based firm’s sales in India have been growing rapidly in recent years and now stand at around $7 billion per year.

Food Recall: Mrs. Freshley’s Cereal Bars

Foodfacts.com
Foodfacts.com brings you the latest in food recalls! Check back daily for updates!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – October 4, 2011 – Flowers Foods is voluntarily recalling the following Mrs. Freshley’s multipack cereal bars, labeled in English/French for Canadian distribution, because they may contain undeclared non-fat dry milk. People who have allergies to dairy products run the risk of serious or life-threatening allergic reaction if they consume these products. No illnesses have been reported to date.

Mrs. Freshley’s Canadian Label Apple Cinnamon Fruit and Pastry Cereal Bars, UPC 072250002400

Mrs. Freshley’s Canadian Label Blueberry Fruit and Pastry Cereal Bars, UPC 072250002387

Mrs. Freshley’s Canadian Label Strawberry Fruit and Pastry Cereal Bars, UPC 072250002363

The recalled product involves the following distribution:

In Canada: To food and convenience stores in Quebec and Ontario provinces

In U.S: To discount stores nationwide in the dual-language (French/English) multipack carton

The recall was initiated after Flowers discovered that product containing non-fat dry milk was distributed in packaging that did not reveal the presence of milk, and that product labeled for sale and distribution in Canada was sold for distribution in the U.S.

Much of the product involved has been contained within the distribution system. Out of an abundance of caution, Flowers issued the voluntary recall and is advising its trade customers to withdraw these products from sale. The company is in the process of recovering the product involved and is in contact with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) to ensure the continued safety of those consumers who may be impacted by this issue. The company also has reported the recall to the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network.

Canadian and U.S. consumers who have purchased the dual-language (English/French) labeled Mrs. Freshley’s cereal bars with the UPC codes noted are urged to return them to the place of purchase for product replacement or refund. No other Mrs. Freshley’s cereal bars are included in this recall; only Mrs. Freshley’s cereal bars in dual-language packages are involved.

Consumers with questions may call Flowers’ Consumer Relations Center at 1-866-245-8921. The center is open Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Eastern time. Consumers also may contact the center via e-mail by visiting the Contact Us page at www.mrsfreshleys.com.

Another day, another recall!

listeria monocytogenes
Foodfacts.com urges all consumers to check pantries, refridgerators, and freezers for 16 oz containers of Publix Spinach Dip. This product was recently tested and found to have traces of Listeria monocytogenes. This can cause moderate to serious side-effects, and even fatalities in young children and elderly adults.
ucm273456

Contact:
Consumer:
1-800-242-1227
www.publix.com

Media:
Maria Brous
863-680-5339

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – September 26, 2011 – Publix Super Markets is issuing a voluntary recall for spinach dip because it may be adulterated with Listeria monocytogenes. The problem was discovered as a result of routine microbial testing conducted by Publix. The 16 ounce containers of prepackaged spinach dip were sold at Publix retail deli departments with a UPC of 41415-00062 and use by date of OCT 10 C1.

Consumption of products containing Listeria monocytogenes can cause serious and sometimes fatal infection in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Although healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea, Listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.

No illnesses have been reported to date in connection with this problem.

The spinach dip was sold in Publix grocery stores in Florida. The following counties in Florida did not receive recalled product: Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie, Indian River, and Okeechobee. Publix stores in Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, and Tennessee are not involved with this recall.

“As part of our commitment to food safety, potentially impacted product has been removed from all store shelves,” said Maria Brous, Publix media and community relations director. “To date, there have been no reported cases of illness. Consumers who have purchased the products in question may return the product to their local store for a full refund. Publix customers with additional questions may call our Consumer Relations department at 1-800-242-1227 or by visiting our website at www.publix.com.” Customers can also contact the US Food and Drug Administration at 1-888-SAFEFOOD (1-888-723-3366).

Publix is privately owned and operated by its 147,500 employees, with 2010 sales of $25.1 billion. Currently Publix has 1,038 stores in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama and Tennessee. The company has been named one of Fortune’s “100 Best Companies to Work For in America” for 14 consecutive years. In addition, Publix’s dedication to superior quality and customer service is recognized as tops in the grocery business, most recently by an American Customer Satisfaction Index survey.

(Food and Drug Administration)

Weekly Top 5

At Foodfacts.com we commonly receive requests for healthy snack suggestions, alternatives for different meals, etc. We know many of you share different views on organic, genetically modified foods, sugar, saturated fat, and many other nutrition-related topic areas, but we feel there are always a few items that stand-out in our database that many may find interesting, or even want to try.

This week’s top 5:

Blueberries
blueberry
There’s nothing better than picking fresh, ripe blueberries during the summer months. Full of antioxidants and phytochemicals, these berries are considered a “superfood” because of their healthy benefits when eaten. Research has shown that some benefits of eating blueberries include reduced risk of cancers, decreasing the conditions of aging; such as Alzheimer’s, and also preventative of Hepatitis C. Add them to your favorite pies, make them into jam, sprinkle them on your yogurt, drink them in juice form,
or eat them by the handful. They’re great for you!

1311643567_ce732f7e2cRed Bell Peppers
They’re slightly sweet, slightly tangy, and very crunchy. Bell peppers are a great source of vitamins and minerals, mixed in with a great amount of flavor. Known as the “meaty” pepper, this vegetable is commonly added to salads, stews, and also eaten raw. Which is great, because it contains a great amount of carotenoids such as alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, lycopene, lutein, cryptoxanthin and zeaxanthin. The bell pepper has been shown to reduce the risk of inflammation, which then helps to prevent various types of cancers.
salmon
Salmon
This fatty fish has been given much praise and attention for awhile now. Full of omega-3 fatty acids, salmon consumption creates great benefits. Improved cardiovascular function, reduced risk of heart disease, reduced inflammation, and some evidence suggests that omega-3 fats may prevent the progression of certain psychotic disorders in high-risk children and adolescents. However, some overlooked features of salmon include the amino acid and protein content, which also provides great health benefits. Some that have been researched are alleviated joint pain, and regulating collagen and minerals within the bone and tissue.
spelt
Spelt Bread
This grain has been around for centuries, and offers a variety of wonderful nutrients that other grains may not be able to provide. This is because it contains B2, a great amount of manganese, niacin, thiamin, and copper. Together, these nutrients are powerful against atherosclerosis, diabetes, migraine headaches, and other moderate to severe conditions. Use this grain to make breads, pasta, muffins, and any other meal you desire!
figs
Whole Wheat Fig Bars
Figs have been a staple in many households for years. Which is a good thing considering that they’re high in potassium, and have a good amount of vitamin C. These fig bars are not only organic, which is an added bonus for many, but they also contain whole wheat flour as their base. Another positive, there are no added sugars.

FDA vs. Dr. Oz: Arsenic in Apple Juice?

juicy-juice
Foodfacts.com has been receiving a few questions regarding arsenic in apple juice. Many of you may already be aware that last Wednesday on the “Dr. Oz Show,” the topic of arsenic in apple juice was discussed. Doctor Oz claims that he has had a lab in New Jersey test different brands of apple juice for total levels or arsenic. These results showed arsenic to be at levels in which there may potentially be long-term affects later on. Why these high levels? Dr. Oz later discussed that most apples come from all over the world, but primarily China, which uses high levels of arsenic in their pesticides and soil.

The FDA took to the media to fight back against Dr. Oz’s findings. They claim that organic arsenic is naturally in our air, water, organic soil, and inorganic soil. They claim that Dr. Oz measured for the total level of arsenic, rather than inorganic vs. organic levels of arsenic (which has no relation to organic vs. inorganic fruits and vegetables.) Inorganic arsenic is the type which is likely to cause harmful effects. Organic arsenic is said by the FDA to “go right through our bodies” and is not absorbed to cause any reactions. It is organic arsenic which is in our apple juice, says the FDA.

However, the Environmental Protection Agency allows 5 time less the amount of arsenic and other heavy metal contaminants in our water supply than the amount allowed in apple juice by the FDA. Currently, the FDA doesn’t technically have a tolerance level for this type of contaminant.

Mott’s Apple Juice for instance, contained 55 parts per billion of arsenic contamination. Drinking water is allowed up to 10 parts per billion.

So, who would you believe? FDA or Doctor Oz? Check out this video below to get more background on this heated debate!

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

Biting into a Twinkie may never be the same…

hostess twinkies at Foodfacts.com!

Many Foodfacts.com consumers are very familiar with the Hostess brand and their wide variety of cakes and sweets. Twinkies, Ho-Ho’s, Ding Dongs, Fruit Pies, Mini Muffins, and Donettes are just a few of their famous products. What some may not know is that most of these delicious childhood favorites contain beef fat. Why? We’re not quite sure, but we found a response from Hostess to a concerned consumer regarding this issue:
tallow1
Our Hostess Fruit pies contain beef fat. The shortening ingredients noted on our labels are: vegetable (may be soybean and/or canola and/or cottonseed and/or palm oil) and beef shortening. “Beef Fat” when noted, is a very small trace used in the creamy fillings of our cakes for taste. Also, it is used in a trace amount in the vegetable oil frying medium.

Beef fat being used for taste? Sounds ironic for a cake product. If you’re vegan or vegetarian, check the labels to make sure beef fat is not listed as an ingredients. Also, gelatin is normally animal-derived too, so don’t be fooled!

Foodfacts.com