Food Allergy Counseling

Food Allergy Counseling
Sloane Miller, Food Allergy Counselor (Picture © Noel Malcolm 2013)

Friday, August 29, 2008

Allergic Girl's Two-Year Anniversary

Here’s my belated Happy Anniversary to my blog [beginning of August is the "real" anniversary] and some highlights of the last year:

I started blogging at www.Healthcentral.com.

Interviewed Padma.

Went to the Food Allergy Ball in NYC.

Launched my coaching practice.

Wrote about how you can create a Cheers experience.

Clarified the purpose of my blog.

Launched Worry-Free Dinners™ .

Went to AAAAI in Philly.

Gave you my secrets about kissing with food allergies.

And I continued to stretch myself and my dining options and manage the fear about eating out. Thank you everyone for reading, commenting, supporting and connecting!

Here’s to year three, filled with more eating, more allergy-friendly products, more worry-free dinners, more travel, more conferences more kissing and more fun!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Support the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (S. 3406)

From our friends at Allergy and Asthma Foundation of America:

Make sure that the U.S. Senate follows the lead of its colleagues in the House in recognizing the importance of the ADA Amendments Act for millions of Americans. Take action by reaching out to your state's Senators to encourage them to support the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (S. 3406), which was introduced on July 31, 2008 with 57 co-sponsors. Below are some important talking points to include in your emails or phone calls to your Senators:

Throughout the last ten years, judicial decisions have excluded people who should be covered under the current ADA law.

Employers and disability groups agree that lawmakers must be addressed to secure the promise of the ADA and its effectiveness in protecting the rights of all persons covered under this important law.

As the courts' interpretations stand now, the ADA does not protect many people with asthma, allergies and other conditions who take medication to control their condition. Their employers can discriminate against them. This is simply not right.

Strict interpretations of the ADA hurt qualified workers who happen to have asthma and severe allergies and hurt employers, too. This is why AAFA and the employer and disability groups are working hard to make things right. You can help by emailing and calling your Senator with the following message:

"I am calling to express my strong support for the ADA Amendments Act of 2008: S.3406. This bill would protect people with asthma and allergies and other disabilities and provide a clear definition of disability under the ADA for employers and in a school setting. More than 100 national disability organizations and many key business associations support the ADA Amendments Act, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers, the Society for Human Resource Management, and the HR Policy Association. These supporters recognize that this legislation that will ensure all Americans have a fair opportunity to secure employment. I urge you to support the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 as passed by the House."

You can reach your Senator through the Capitol Switchboard at 1-800-828-0498 or (202) 224-3121.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Zucchini Pasta in The New York Times

No, no not wheat pasta. Strips of zucchini treated as a "pasta".

Zucchini are super abundant in this late summer market and hence the focus of this NYT recipe.

Thought I'd pass this naturally gluten-free and super easy recipe along to you non-NYT readers.

Keep your eyes open: easy, adaptable GF, allergen-friendly easy recipes are all around.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Broadway Esplanades

I just think this idea [and seemingly overnight implementation] is the craziest ever (From The New York Times):

"As if New York wasn’t stimulating enough already, the city has provided a new kind of thrill right in the heart of Midtown: an esplanade carved into Broadway where people can sit and relax as cars and trucks whiz by."


Wha? Who thought this up? Who thought it would be safe?

This sentence is the most amusing: "Although Broadway has been narrowed, the flow of traffic on Monday did not seem to be noticeably tangled as a result of the recent changes."

Of course not, it's the summer before the last weekend of the summer. The city is dead-quiet. Duh.

The hilarity continues: "Janette Sadik-Khan, the transportation commissioner, has said that traffic patterns might shift and that there was enough capacity on other nearby avenues for drivers."

"Might shift"? Has she driven on a nearby avenue, during rush hour?

The whole things is surreal for an already congested, taxi-filled driving experience.

Monday, August 25, 2008

FDA Open Hearing, September 16, 2008

THIS INFORMATION IS PROVIDED COURTESY OF THE FDA.GOV WEBSITE:

***
[Federal Register: August 8, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 154)]
[Notices]
[Page 46302-46307]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:fr08au08-69]

***

DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES

Food and Drug Administration

[Docket No. FDA-2008-N-0429]

Food Labeling; Current Trends in the Use of Allergen Advisory Labeling: Its Use, Effectiveness, and Consumer Perception; Public Hearing; Request for Comments

AGENCY: Food and Drug Administration, HHS.

ACTION: Notice of public hearing; request for comments.

***

SUMMARY: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is announcing a public hearing on the use of advisory labeling of allergens in foods. FDA is developing a long-term strategy to assist manufacturers in using allergen advisory labeling that is truthful and not misleading, conveys a clear and uniform message, and adequately informs food-allergic consumers and their caregivers. To that end, FDA is soliciting comments and information to assist the agency in determining how manufacturers currently use advisory labeling, how consumers interpret different advisory labeling statements, and what wording is likely to be most effective in communicating to consumers the likelihood that an allergen may be present in a food. The agency is also interested in receiving comments about whether consumers find advisory labeling helpful for making food purchasing decisions. This public hearing is the first step in closing existing knowledge gaps in developing our long-term strategy.

***

DATES: The public hearing will be held on September 16, 2008, from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The closing date for registration is September 8, 2008. See section V of this document for other dates associated with participation in the hearing. Submit written or electronic comments (i.e., submissions other than notices of participation and written material associated with an oral presentation) by January 14, 2009. The administrative record of the hearing will remain open until January 14, 2009.

***

ADDRESSES: Public hearing. The public hearing will be held at the Harvey W. Wiley Federal Building, Food and Drug Administration, Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, 5100 Paint Branch Pkwy., College Park, MD 20740-3835, (Metro stop: College Park on the Green Line).

Registration. Submit electronic notices of participation for the hearing to http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/register.html. We encourage you to use this method of registration, if possible. Submit written notices of participation by mail, fax, or e-mail to Isabelle Howes, U.S. Department of Agriculture Graduate School, 600 Maryland Ave., SW., suite 330, Washington, DC 20024-2520, FAX: 202-479-6801, or e-mail: Isabelle_Howes@grad.usda.gov. You may also submit oral notices of participation by phone to Isabelle Howes, U.S. Department of Agriculture Graduate School (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT). Written material associated with an oral presentation. Submit written material associated with an oral presentation by mail, fax, or e-mail to Isabelle Howes.

Comments. Submit written comments to the Division of Dockets Management (HFA-305), Food and Drug Administration, 5630 Fishers Lane, rm. 1061, Rockville, MD 20852. Submit electronic comments to http://www.regulations.gov. For additional information on submitting comments, see section VI in this document.

***

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For questions about registration or written material associated with an oral presentation, or to register orally: Isabelle Howes, 202-314-4713. For all other questions about the hearing or if you need parking or special accommodations due to a disability: Juanita Yates, Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, Food and Drug Administration, 301-436-1731, e-mail: Juanita.Yates@fda.hhs.gov.

FDA Announces Public Hearing on Food Advisory Labeling

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has scheduled a public hearing on allergen advisory labeling on September 16, 2008, at the FDA Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition's Harvey W. Wiley Building in College Park, Maryland. Formal notice of the Hearing published in the Federal Register on August 8, 2008 (FR 73 46302)

FDA is developing a long-term strategy to assist manufacturers in using allergen advisory labeling that is truthful and not misleading, conveys a clear and uniform message, and adequately informs food allergic consumers and their caregivers. To that end, FDA is soliciting comments and information to assist the agency in determining how manufacturers currently use advisory labeling, how consumers interpret different advisory labeling statements, and what wording is likely to be most effective in communicating to consumers the likelihood that an allergen may be present in a food. The agency is also interested in receiving comments about whether consumers find advisory labeling helpful for making food purchasing decisions. This public hearing is the first step in closing existing knowledge gaps in developing our long-term strategy.

The hearing will include presentations by agency officials, invited speakers and members of the public. The Federal Register Notice and information regarding Registration are available on the FDA Web site.

Food Allergies, CNN.com

Interesting story about "May Contain" food labels on CNN.com in relation to the FDA hearing to take place September 16th.

If you didn't already know those "May Contain" labels are completely arbitrary i.e. not regulated by the FDA, and up to each individual manufacturer.

I wrote about a "May Contain" label and consumer reaction study for Healthcentral.com. Here is an excerpt:

“The Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA) became effective for all packaged foods in January 2006. It applies to the 8 major allergens (egg, milk, wheat, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, fish and shellfish). However, FALCPA does not address raw meat, poultry, fresh fruits and vegetables nor does it address other food allergens not considered "major," such as seeds and spices. For example, in Canada, sesame is the 9th major allergen."

"More importantly, cautionary statements, such as "may contain," "manufactured in the same facility as" or "manufactured using the same equipment" are voluntary according to each manufacturer. There are no universal standards for what they mean. Dr. Sicherer underscored the point, stating that: "it is important to know that these statements aren't regulated."

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Nana's No Gluten Lemon Cookies

I’ve been eyeing Nana’s No Gluten Cookies for years as they are in every health food store. And they have "No dairy, No eggs, No hydrogentated oils, No added salt and No refined sugar". Yay! In the past, I've hesitated from trying for one main reasons: their GF cookies are made in a facility that processes nuts in the same facility.

Lucky moi, a friend of the family knows the daughter of “Nana”, Denise, and put us in touch. We had a lovely convo about her product line, their gluten-freeness and their great allergen-awareness. During our phone convo, Denise looped in the manager of the plant where these cookies are processed to talk about my concerns.

As the manager said, she is a mother who has a child with allergies and understands the concerns. She personally assured me how careful they are about processing nuts and keeping everything clean and separate. I felt completely reassured about how careful they are, enough to finally try the Lemon cookies (*I’ve had my eye on those especially*).

Hard to believe these cookies are completely vegan and GF. The lemon cookies are moist and very lemony, not gritty and little to no aftertaste. I also tried the ginger and chocolate. The ginger was moist, and gingerbread-tasting but fell apart. The chocolate tasted of coconut, which was odd and off putting.

But lemon is a rock-star and I’ve found my new indulgence!

If you have any questions about Nana’s product, I encourage you to call their 800 line or email them (nana@nanascookiecompany.com or 800-836-7534). They want to hear from you and they can tell you everything you need to know about their products. For your information, they also sent me their “No Gluten and Allergy Fact Sheet”.

See below.

Nana’s Cookie Company produces delicious gluten-free and casein free Cookies, Bars & Bites. The Gluten Free Cookies, Bites & Bars are made without nuts. However, some of our other delicious Cookies do contain nuts and our products are manufactured on shared equipment with products that contain tree nuts and/or peanuts.

How Are Nana’s No Gluten Products Made?

• We use separate baking pans which are kept in a separate location. We bake on separate no gluten days

• We use paper on all pans.

• Our equipment is stainless and everything is totally scrubbed down before mixing and baking.

• The ingredients are kept separate.

• Packaging equipment is scrubbed down, the chain is dropped, removed, and soaked, then put back on machine for packaging.

• We do have an Allergy Information notice on all products that identifies that Nana’s products are manufactured on shared equipment with products that may contain tree nuts/and or peanuts

Nana’s No’s: No Dairy · No Refined Sugars · No Eggs · No cholesterol · No Transfat · No Hydrogenated Oils · No Cane or Beet Products · No Preservatives · No GMO’s


For additional information, please contact us directly at nana@nanascookiecompany.com or 800-836-7534

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Gluten-Free from the F&W Blog

How cool is this story about Gilt here in NYC? Except for the minor editorial error, celiac is not an allergy, kudos for F&W for writing about this!

Celiac Disease: A Restaurant-Goer's Success Story, By Kate Heddings, Senior Food Editor

A friend of mine, John, suffers from celiac disease, which in short means he can't eat any gluten. Before going out to eat, he calls the restaurant and alerts them, and they usually just make sure he orders safely and leave it at that. Recently, he shared a great story with me. His wife called the restaurant Gilt, here in Manhattan, and told them ahead of time that he'd be coming in and that he has this allergy. Once they were seated at their table, a waiter came over and placed a bread basket on the table. His wife reached for the bread, but the waiter gently pushed her hand away, telling them that the kitchen had prepared a special basket of gluten-free rolls just for John. For someone whose dietary restriction is more typically treated as a nuisance, this was exceptional. And the rolls were good! In fact, John says that he polished off the whole basket (who wouldn't in his situation?) and the waiter brought out more, then let him take some home as well. Has John been back? As many times as he can. Kudos to chef Chris Lee and his staff at Gilt.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Mocktails, Again

So I was at Flatiron Lounge last Wednesday before a night out and had the same mocktail that I had last time was there: the fresh ginger-lemonade, this time without an egg-foam head.

I asked our adorable bartender if they usually make this drink with egg whites.

He said, "Never."

I said, "Last time I was here, that's how they made it?"

He was shocked.

He said, “Well, he made it wrong. They never make that drink with egg whites.”

Huh.

Another Allergic Girl mystery. I should start my own series.

Anyway, in today's New York Times, they feature the summer mocktail with some dandy recipes. They include some Mocktails from the Crypt from the mocktail-ologist herself, Julie Reiner of Flatiron Lounge and others.

Recipe below courtesy of the New York Times.

Watermelon Cucumber Punch, adapted from P*ong.

Time: 15 minutes

1 1/4 pounds fresh seedless watermelon cubes

2 Kirby cucumbers, peeled and cut into chunks

4 ounces fresh lemon juice

2 ounces agave syrup (see note)

1 ounce aloe vera juice (see note)

Thinly sliced cucumber rounds, for garnish.

1. In a blender, purée watermelon until smooth. Strain and set aside 12 ounces juice.

2. Add cucumbers to blender with 1 tablespoon water. Purée until smooth. Strain and set aside 1 ounce juice.

3. In a cocktail shaker, combine watermelon juice, cucumber juice and all other ingredients. Shake well. Pour into ice-filled rocks glasses and serve, garnished with cucumber rounds.

Yield: 4 cocktails.

Note: Aloe vera juice and agave syrup are available in health food stores.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Sweden is Allergy-Friendly

An entire country whose restos are allergy-friendly?

Check out this Yahoo story sent in by an AG reader.

Thanks reader!

"STOCKHOLM (AFP) - Restaurant-goers with food allergies can soon chow down in Sweden with confidence in eateries bearing 'allergy-free' certificates, Sweden's Asthma and Allergy Association said Thursday.

The certificate will be granted to restaurants whose staff undergo a special training course that will enable them to better advise patrons of their food options and avoid the risk of allergic reactions.

"We have noticed for many years that people suffering from food allergies have a lot of problems when they eat out in a restaurant, and we want to help the restaurants cater to these people," Marianne Jarl, who is heading up the project, told AFP.

One in four adults in Sweden was believed to have some form of food allergy, though serious allergies were rarer, she added.

Mats Hulth, the head of the Swedish Hotel and Restaurant Association, welcomed the initiative.

"This is the first time in Sweden and the first time in Europe" that this kind of label is being made available to eateries, he said.

"It's a question of competition too because it could be good for a restaurant to show the sign on the door," he added.

Hulth himself is partly responsible for the scheme, having suffered a severe allergic reaction to nuts at a Danish restaurant that landed him in hospital.

A Swedish newspaper wrote about his misfortune, and he was later contacted by the Asthma and Allergy Association about a possible collaboration."

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Acidophilus milk

So here I am, doing my Allergic Girl thing: eating out, writing about it, trying to be all allergy aware.

And what's the most popular post on my site?

The one that I get so many hits daily I can’t even count?

Acidophilus milk.

Something I’ve never tasted, and at this point being lactose intolerant I don’t know that I could/should.

And I still haven't seen it being sold here in NYC.

Just one of those funny bloggy things I thought I’d share.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Smoochies

**CLOSED**

It’s been over three years since I’ve had ice cream, in any form. No substitutes either. No sorbet. No rice dream. No soy dream. No Pinkberry (oh wait I did try it when it came to NYC a couple of years back, just a taste, maybe 1 tablespoon and bad tummy immediately. Sigh.).

So when I heard about Smoochies last year, I didn’t give it too much thought. “Lactose-free” soft serve ice cream? I didn’t really believe it. And since it’s taken so long to get my tummy back on track, and I know I'm lactose-intolerant, and my diet is so free-of processed foods, and I’d done without it for so long, I put it out of my head.

That is until last week.

When I'm sick, my eating goes all out of whack. During this last bronchitis all I wanted was white rice and chicken broth, lots of tea, water and not much else. Except ice cream. What’s a lactose-intolerant girl to do?

Smoochies !

**

First, some background from the Smoochies site:

Completely lactose free: Between 30 and 50 million Americans are lactose intolerant and suffer after eating dairy products. Smoochies is the only lactose-free frozen dessert on the market.

Only 15 calories per fluid ounce for all flavors and 99% fat free: At Smoochies, we leave the guesswork out. You don't need to read the fine print to figure out which flavors are low fat and which aren't at Smoochies because all of our flavors are 99% fat free and only 60 calories per four fluid ounce serving.

All natural: At Smoochies, we only use the finest all natural ingredients. We never use any artificial sweeteners, flavors or colors.

A good source of protein: The secret behind what makes our product taste so creamy even though it is 99% fat free is the high whey protein content. While you may feel like you’re indulging in a delicious frozen treat, you are actually eating a nutritious product that provides 5 grams of protein per serving.

Ingredients: Low Fat Lactose-Free Milk, fruit sugar, cane sugar, whey protein, milk protein, natural flavors, vegetable gums, mono- and diglycerides, salt.


**

As soon as I was well enough, I popped by for a taste test.

I started small: one tablespoon of the coffee flavor. It was very sweet, cold, milky, coffee-y, with a smooth texture.

And then I waited. Would my tummy be very unhappy with this marketed “lactose-free” delight? I waited an hour, nada; two hours, niente. A day, still no bad tummy reaction. This was a good sign.

A few tummy-trouble-free days later, I got the mini (4 ounces and 60 calories) vanilla. The taste reminded me of frozen whipped cream with some frozen custard-y undertones. Very sweet, slightly bitter/chemical aftertaste. The texture was aerated and slightly icy/chewy. But it did the trick, quenched my I-need-some-ice cream-cos-I’m-not-feeling-so-hot-need.

And the tummy? No problems! How exciting is that? Will I be running back every week? Probably not, it's a bit overly processed tasting but if I have a dire craving, I now know where I can go for a lactose-free treat.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

WFD & Kids

Yep, kids are allergic too.

And we're doing an event just for them September 14th!

Details are on the WFD site.

Pass it a long.

Friday, August 08, 2008

JC Penny and The Breakfast Club

Was anyone else [over the age of 30] a little freaked out to see this ad by JC Penny that uses the Breakfast Club as frame by frame inspiration?

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Macondo, NYC

So a few minutes ago, making plans for the weekend, a friend suggested we try somewhere new for dinner Friday night, either Rayuela or their little sister Macondo. Sounded good.

I looked at Macondo’s menu, lots of nutty things but also some cheeses and arepa [which traditionally are GF]. So I did what I do, which is call ahead. A cheery woman answered the phone and this is how it went down.

"Hi. I’m thinking of coming in to dine and I’m allergic to nuts and fish and I’m wondering if the kitchen feels comfortable handling that?"

"So, you’re vegan? I mean, vegetarian?"

"Uh, no. I’m *allergic* to nuts and fish. They could kill me."

"Ooooh. So you’re allergic to penis?"

"Uh, excuse me?"

"I mean, peanuts?"

Hmmm. Not a great sign.

Question is: Should I judge a restaurant's allergy awareness (and command of the nut vocabulaire) solely by the person who answers the phone? Probably not.

But here in NYC, there are too many restaurants whose reservationists get it to fiddle around with those that don't.

Needless to say, I’m neither allergic to “penis” nor dining at Macondo anytime soon. But it was worth calling just for the giggle!

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Tips for Staying Allergen-Friendly at Theme Parks

The PR company for Story Land Theme Park in New Hampshire contacted me about food allergies and, well, theme parks.

It seems they are very allergen-friendly at the park, which is excellent news!

Through the publicist, Story Land's food coordinator, Charles Selmi, proffered some tips about how to stay safe and have fun whilst visiting any theme park, especially Story Land in New Hampshire.

**

Charles “Bud” Selmi is the Foods Coordinator at Story Land children’s theme park in Glen, NH. Bud is a certified chef through the American Culinary Federation, a certified instructor of the ServSafe® program of the National Restaurant Association, NH Chef of the Year 1999, and proprietor of Sizzlin’ Sauces hot sauce company.


Chef Bud’s Six Tips for Safe and Fun Family Eating at Theme Parks


-Keep your guard up. You’re the expert on your family’s needs. Even the best-intentioned and most accommodating food service providers will not have the background and knowledge to avoid every potential allergy. And as in any public place, there’s no telling what others may have left behind when touching hand rails, table tops, or other common areas.


-Do your research in advance. While there are some basic food items you’ll find at just about any park, menus can vary widely, as can types of cooking oils and other important variables. Online, through e-mail, or on the phone find out what foods are available at the park. Some parks (Story Land was one of the first beginning several years ago) will post a menu and ingredient listing on their web site to help in planning your dining options before you visit.


-Bring your medications. Even if you’d rather not carry them around while on amusement rides, keep them in a locker or in the car ONLY if you’ll have an appropriate amount of time to retrieve them in case of an emergency. Upon special request, (Story Land has been known to store medications requiring refrigeration in behind-the-scenes refrigerators with restricted access). First aid personnel may not have any sort of allergy medication on hand, or the clearance to administer it.


-Bring your own food. Some parks allow picnic lunches or snacks to be brought into the park, and knowing you have something that is definitely safe to eat will help make the day enjoyable. You’ll still be able to buy a little something extra that you can’t easily make or bring from home. Even some parks that prohibit bringing in food as a matter of policy may make an exception for medical needs. Some parks will also allow you to head out to the car to eat, and then return to the park without an additional fee (be sure to ask about the return policy before exiting).


-Speak up and ask. Cross contamination can occur when different food items are prepared in or on the same cooking equipment. And although management may be sensitive to the issue, it’s the front line kitchen staff that needs to deliver. When ordering, ask if there are other foods being fried in the same oil as the item you plan to order, and it’s definitely okay to ask servers to change gloves before gathering and serving your order.


-Use your judgment. If you can find the allergy information you need from the park, chances are you’ll be able to have a relaxed and enjoyable visit there. Conversely, if your research and inquiries are met with indifference and insensitivity, there may be cause for extra diligence during what should be a fun day for all.


Great tips Chef Bud--thank you Story Land!

Friday, August 01, 2008

Rice Salads from the New York Times

Mark Bittman, NYT food writer fabuloso, has compiled some lovely and naturally GF rice salad recipes that are infinitely adaptable!

Plegm-Bot

Please excuse all the quiet-tude of late.

These last 10 days have been filed with a nice bronchitis; a dead iMac; and a bad back due to some major coughing [see aforementioned bronchitis].

Fear not, iMac is back up, back is better [thank goodness for lots of Advil and ice], and well I'm still coughing and sound like a man, baby but it's on the mend.

More real news next week.