Food Allergy Counseling

Food Allergy Counseling
Sloane Miller, MFA, MSW, LMSW, Psychotherapist; Specialist in Food Allergy Management, Speaking At Mylan Specialty / EpiPen Event (© Noel Malcolm 2013)

Monday, November 25, 2013

Product Review: Dark Chocolate Morsels, Enjoy Life

Image courtesy of Enjoy Life Foods


Recently, one of my favorite and trusted food allergy-friendly treat manufactures, Enjoy Life Foods, released a new product: Dark Chocolate Morsels with 69% cocoa for baking. They sent me a sample of the
Dark Chocolate Morsels to try and although I haven’t yet baked with them I did taste them. And taste them again. Ahem, and again. The Dark Chocolate Morsels have a slightly fruitier taste as they are higher in cacao with a lower percentage of sugar.  But still, de-lish. 

I had an opportunity to ask Enjoy Life Foods more about this new product. Feel free to contact them directly about your food allergy needs.


Allergic Girl: Why
Dark Chocolate Morsels?

Enjoy Life Foods: We have featured semi-sweet chocolate chips for years, and about two years ago, when we introduced the Mega Chunks, we produced those in the standard semi-sweet format as well. Both products are doing extremely well in the marketplace. But our consumers kept asking for more. When we looked to introduce a third product, we saw how much people love dark chocolate, and we all know the great health benefits that Dark Chocolate offers people, so we decided this was the way to go. Early sales results indicate that we are right on target.
AG: How are they different from your Megas or Minis? For example 69% cacao, yay but what is the “normal” percentage for your chocolate chips?

ELF: The current Cacao % on our minis and megas is 52-55%.
AG: What does a higher percentage mean and why is that desirable in a chocolate confection?
ELF: The higher the percentage, the more pure chocolate in the product. One of the unique attributes of the Enjoy Life chocolate is that we do not use any soy lecithin in our product, which means more of our product is made up of pure, premium, high-quality chocolate. It is why our product tastes as good as it does, and also why it is slightly more expensive that those offered by companies using soy lecithin as a filler.
AG: How do you ensure that your chocolate is free from the top 8?
ELF: Our product is manufactured under strict guidelines to make certain that it remains Free from the Top 8 Allergens. While there is dairy in the particular facility where the product is produced, we do a double-clean out along with swabbing all equipment before and after product is produced. We also test our finished goods to make certain that there are no unstated allergens in our product.
AG: What is the ideal use for the Dark Chocolate Morsels?

ELF: People love our Dark Chocolate Morsels in all of their baked product, but we also find that people use them as a topping on yogurt, pancakes, cereal, oatmeal, etc. As well, many people love them right out of the bag. Guilty!
AG: Any recipes to share? Or links to recipes that use these Dark Chocolate Morsels?

ELF: There is a great recipe on the bag of Dark Chocolate Morsels, with more to come that will be introduced on our website,
AG: Where can we buy or find more info?

ELF: As is true with many new products, it takes awhile for the new product to end up on the store shelves. Currently, the Dark Chocolate Morsels can be found at your local independent natural food store. They will soon be on the shelf at Whole Foods as well as many other supermarkets. As is true for all of our products, they can be ordered online at


FREE CHOCOLATE GIVEAWAY CONTEST on Facebook.  Please go to my Allergic Girl by Sloane Miller Facebook page for contest details!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Food Allergy Counseling: CDC and Voluntary Food Allergy Guidelines for Schools

A press release from FARE:

On October 30, 2013, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) published “Voluntary Guidelines for Managing Food Allergies in Schools and Early Care and Education Programs” - the first national comprehensive guidelines for school food allergy management…The guidelines were created as the result of the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Management Act (included under the FDA’s Food Safety Modernization Act), which was championed by FARE and signed into law on Jan. 4, 2011. The law required the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services to develop and make available to schools a voluntary policy to manage the risk of food allergy and anaphylaxis in schools. FARE, the National Association of School Nurses and other groups collaborated with the CDC on the development of these guidelines. 

Information via Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC)

The Voluntary Guidelines for Managing Food Allergies provide practical information and planning steps for parents, district administrators, school administrators and staff, and ECE program administrators and staff to develop or strengthen plans for food allergy management and prevention. The Voluntary Guidelines for Managing Food Allergies include recommendations for each of the five priority areas that should be addressed in each school’s or ECE program’s Food Allergy Management Prevention Plan:

  • Ensure the daily management of food allergies in individual children.
  • Prepare for food allergy emergencies.
  • Provide professional development on food allergies for staff members.
  • Educate children and family members about food allergies.
  • Create and maintain a healthy and safe educational environment.

The Voluntary Guidelines for Managing Food Allergies online here.

Via FARE how you can get more involved to spread the word to your school:

Know the Facts: More than 15 percent of children with food allergies have had a reaction at school, and approximately 25 percent of epinephrine administrations in the school setting involved an individual whose allergy was previously undiagnosed.

Contact Your District and School Leaders: Reach out to your school board, superintendent, principal, and/or school health office to let them know that the guidelines are available at If your school district already has school food allergy management guidelines in place, ask your school officials to consider the CDC guidelines the next time changes are proposed.

Tell Your Friends: Let other families know that they can help increase awareness of the new CDC guidelines by notifying their district or school leaders.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Food Allergy Counseling: FARE interview with Dr. Robert A. Wood

In a Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE)  October webinar, Dr. Robert A. Wood, a professor of pediatrics and chief of Pediatric Allergy and Immunology at Johns Hopkins, and professor of International Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, focused on anaphylaxis, a severe allergic reaction that is potentially fatal. Answering questions like:

QUESTION: Are people with asthma more at risk of fatal anaphylaxis, and why?

Yes. Because the main reason that people die of anaphylaxis is that their airways shut down. Because of the underlying asthma, your airways are likely to be more sensitive to an allergic reaction.

(That would be me!) You can read more of the interview here

Dr. Robert A. Wood, a professor of pediatrics and chief of Pediatric Allergy and Immunology at Johns Hopkins, and professor of International Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health has a wonderful book, a primer really, excellent to share with loved ones that want to know more about food allergies and their seriousness, especially as we head into the holiday season: Food Allergies For Dummies by Dr. Robert A. Wood

Another excellent book for your personal library and to share with loved ones to help them understand the seriousness of a food allergy diagnosis is Dr Scott Sicherer’s book: Food Allergies: A Complete Guide for Eating When Your Life Depends on It. (Here's my review of it.)

Thursday, November 14, 2013

School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act Signed, November 13, 2013

Very exciting news from Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) website: "On November 13, 2013 President Obama signed into law the  School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act, which encourages states to adopt laws requiring schools to have on hand “stock” epinephrine auto-injectors."

Here is some of the coverage from around the web and more about what this means.

FARE press release: "President Obama today signed into law the School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act during a ceremony attended by Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) CEO John L. Lehr, members of FARE’s board of directors and key congressional sponsors. This historic and potentially lifesaving legislation is the first federal law encouraging schools to stock epinephrine for use in allergic emergencies, and has been championed by FARE for more than two years.”

From Obama reveals daughter Malia’s peanut allergy at bill signing: "This is something that will save children's lives," the President said at the signing. "Some people may know that Malia actually has a peanut allergy. She doesn't have asthma, but obviously making sure that EpiPens are available in case of emergency in schools is something that every parent can understand."

From the White House Blog: "Today in the Oval Office, President Obama signed into law the School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act, which will encourage schools to plan for severe asthma attacks and allergic reactions, and provide millions of families with greater peace of mind. The law makes an important change to the Children’s Asthma Treatment Grants Program and other federal asthma programs, which authorizes the Department of Health and Human Services to give funding preferences to states for asthma-treatment grants if they: maintain an emergency supply of epinephrine (EpiPens), if they permit trained personnel of the school to administer epinephrine, and if they develop a plan for ensuring trained personnel are available to administer epinephrine during all hours of the school day." 

From the Wall Street Journal: "Rather than require schools to stockpile EpiPens, the School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Law provides a financial incentive. States that require schools maintain a supply of the medication and permit trained school personnel to administer it will get preference for receiving federal children’s asthma-treatment grants. A similar preference has been in existence since 2004 for states that allow students to self-administer medication to treat asthma and anaphylaxis."

Video via Politico Blog.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Food Allergy Counseling: How Common Is Anaphylaxis: Study

Some of the most well-respected leaders in the food allergy medical field, including Robert A. Wood, MD; Philip Lieberman, MD; Hugh A. Sampson, MD; and F. Estelle R. Simons, MD
were involved in a new study about anaphylaxis.

The conclusion: "According to the peer-reviewed study, anaphylaxis very likely occurs in nearly 1-in-50 Americans (1.6%), and the rate is probably higher, close to 1-in-20 (5.1%)."

Here's a full text of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (JACI) study

Below is a partial of the press release from Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA).



Anaphylaxis is More Common Than Many Thought, Most Patients are Not Prepared

A novel study by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) published today in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (JACI), finds that severe life-threatening allergic reactions – anaphylaxis – are common in the U.S.  According to the peer-reviewed study, anaphylaxis very likely occurs in nearly 1-in-50 Americans (1.6%), and the rate is probably higher, close to 1-in-20 (5.1%).

The article, Anaphylaxis in America: The Prevalence and Characteristics of Anaphylaxis in the United States, based on AAFA’s study of the same name, provides one of the most reliable estimates to-date of the prevalence of severe, life-threatening allergies in the general population.  It is also helping experts understand how the public, patients and caregivers think, feel and behave regarding anaphylaxis.  For the full text of the article, visit

Dr. Robert Wood is the lead author of the article, chair of the AAFA research panel that conducted the study, and Director of Allergy & Immunology at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center.  “This study provides the first estimate of anaphylaxis prevalence in the United States using a large unbiased survey,” according to the article.  But the authors also pointed out that patients do not appear adequately equipped to deal with future episodes, indicating the need for public health initiatives to improve anaphylaxis recognition and treatment.

“One of the most alarming things we found is that, despite the common occurrence of anaphylaxis, most people are not prepared to do the right thing when emergency reactions occur,” says Mike Tringale, Senior Vice President at AAFA and one of the authors of the article.  “We need to re-double our efforts to make sure that people are informed and have access to the right medication.”

For the full text of the article, visit

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Food Allergy Counseling: Drinking Alcohol, Food Allergies

Family lore says that my grandmother’s rule about eating fish: don't drink alcohol with it because your mouth will itch.

My theory: my grandmother was allergic to fish. The alcohol was probably a cofactor for her. Makes sense as her daughter, my mother, is allergic to crab and I’m allergic to salmon. 

"Co-factor enhanced food allergy” is a term used to describe a situation where a food- allergic reaction is worse or only occurs if there is an additional factor present. The three most common co-factors are: exercise, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (or NSAIDs, including aspirin and ibuprofen), and alcohol."

Something to address with your board certified medical health provider, for sure.