Food Allergy Labeling Not Always Accurate

Mar 24

This is quite allarming and why we need to know what companies we can trust. This is also the reason we need to push our governments for stronger labeling laws.   MONDAY, March 16 (HealthDay News) — A small number of food products with a “may contain” label actually do contain an allergen, while about 2 percent of foods products without such a claim also contain allergens, new research shows.   But the offending products more often came from smaller companies, noted the authors of a study that is scheduled to be presented Monday at the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology’s annual meeting, in Washington, D.C. “We didn’t do an exhaustive survey of every product out there, but one thing we did notice is that products that didn’t have this labeling but did have detectable proteins came primarily from smaller companies,” said study senior author Dr. Scott H. Sicherer, an associate professor of pediatrics at the Jaffe Food Allergy Institute at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City. “So for what it’s worth, we could presume that small companies don’t have as much oversight.” Still, Sicherer added, buying certain food products can be a game of roulette for people with allergies. “If you’re a patient with a food allergy, it’s probably best to stick with the larger companies,” agreed Dr. David Resnick, director of allergy and immunology at Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital, New York Presbyterian Hospital, in New York City. Food allergies, which affect about 2 percent of adults and 5 percent of infants and young children in the United States, can range from the merely irritating to the life-threatening. “Not too many fatalities are reported with egg allergies, but with peanuts, that’s where fatalities are more likely to be reported,” Resnick stated. “If you’re buying food from a smaller company and have a serious allergy like a peanut allergy, you have to be really cautious.” The Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004 (FALCPA) required new labels on packaged foods containing “major food allergens,” which were defined as milk, eggs, fish, crustacean shellfish, tree nuts, wheat, peanuts and soybeans, or any other ingredient that contains protein derived from one of these foods...

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What next for the beloved, beleaguered peanut?

Mar 22

I’ll admit it. I love peanuts. Before my son was diagnosed with a nut/peanut allergy I regularly had peanut butter and jam, peanut butter and banana and even peanut butter and sweet pickle (don’t knock it! I used sweet-mixed) sandwiches. When his diagnosis came in 4 years ago I  have not touched one since. I feel bad for the farmers out there that have to weather this storm but on the other hand I know that people out  there with this allergy have to be very careful. March is Peanut month in the US, and like many other foods are celebrated with festivals (Right here in Ontario we have a garlic festival!) and events like what was done in Atlanta. Good for them. I just hope that when someone refused their free bag of nuts there was no animosity.  People have to protect themselves and I hope the peanut will live on amicably with those who can not eat it.   One Sunday afternoon earlier this month, an unusual scene played out at the Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton – partisans of a particular product waded into the crowd, distributing tiny sacks of snacks. By day’s end, they had handed out 64,000 bags of skinless, roasted Georgia peanuts. It was Peanut Farmer Appreciation Day at the racetrack. And these days, appreciation for the peanut can be hard to come by. “It’s been upsetting to be classified as a high risk,” says Tim Burch, who farms 500 acres of peanuts in Newton. We munch ’em at ballgames, name comic strips after ’em, pulverize ’em into a spread that has enticed generations of children to everything from cookies to PB&Js to fluffernutters. During the Civil War in the South, we ate them boiled and sang about our affection for “goober peas.” We export more of them than any other country. In America, when it comes to food, the low-cost, high-protein peanut is one of the national icons – right up there with the hamburger and the apple. “We grew up, and it was just a part of our lives,” says Beth Feldman, a New York Web entrepreneur, mother and peanut fan from childhood. But after more than a decade of allergy...

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Candy Melts Make Easter Fun

Mar 22

Candy Melts Make Easter Fun

I have been a fan of Vermont Nut Free ever since my son was diagnosed with allergies to peanuts and tree nuts four years ago. Their high-quality chocolates are now a staple in our household for pretty much all the holidays. And, with Easter around the corner, I’m putting together an order for their delicious chocolate bunnies. We’ll also be making some of our own Easter chocolates, which will be equally delicious, thanks to Vermont Nut Free.   I’ve accumulated a few candy molds, most of which I bought at our local bulk food store.  I felt a bit odd shopping there, since bulk food is off limits for the reason of potential cross-contamination. My impression is that the store is about 20 per cent bulk nuts, so the potential is high indeed. But, I’ve got some cute molds, including some of bunnies and one of various farm animals (which might also be appropriate for the season). Last time I ordered chocolates from Vermont Nut Free, for Valentine’s Day, I ordered some of their candy melts as well. I purchased all three flavours: milk chocolate, dark chocolate, and white chocolate. Last week I got around to trying out the milk chocolate melts, which I used to make some turtle-shaped chocolates I used to garnish a dessert I’d made. I was very pleased with the results. I used a double-boiler to melt the chocolate, which melted quickly and smoothly. I spooned the melted chocolate into the molds and popped them in the freezer for about 10 minutes, and then popped out the finished products. They were shiny and beautiful. They didn’t start melting in my hands as I handled them, as had been my experience using chocolate chips for melting chocolate. And they were delicious. I’m looking forward to our Easter chocolate-making; but, really, I think I’ll be making my own little chocolates for just about every occasion, or even no occasion, from now on. Share...

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How to Deal with Increasingly Prevalent Food Allergies – QSR Magazine

Mar 20

This is good news and more companies should take advantage of training thier employees this way. This should include all restaurant and any food-related industries, not just the processors.   [2009-03-19]   The Food Allergy Research and Resource Program (FARRP) at the University of Nebraska (UNL) Department of Food Science and Technology has launched a free training Webinar for food processors and handlers entitled, “Food Allergy and Safe Nut Processing.”   The one-hour training program is geared toward food workers and provides an introduction to food allergies, with special attention on tree nuts and the importance of allergen controls within food-processing plants. It is intended to increase knowledge about the seriousness of tree nut allergy by discussing methods of allergen control that can prevent inadvertent exposure and reduce food safety hazards in the food supply. Steve Taylor, Ph.D., of the Department of Food Science and Technology at UNL and head of FARRP, provided the technical guidance for the Webinar. “Some studies show the incidence of food allergy is increasing,” he says, “and this Webinar is intended to help food processors train their staff and assure their processing operations are free of cross-contamination for tree-nut allergen.” According to Sam Cunningham, Ph.D., an expert on tree nuts, “Many consumers enjoy tree nuts and tree nut-containing products. With the right knowledge and careful planning, food processors can safely produce both non-nut containing foods and nut- containing foods. Understanding allergy and implementation of effective allergen control programs results in safer food.” via How to Deal with Increasingly Prevalent Food Allergies – Restaurant News – QSR Magazine. Share...

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Black male children are four times more likely to have food allergies: study

Mar 19

Black male children are at an especially high risk for developing food allergies, according to a new study presented Tuesday in Washington, DC, at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. They’re about four times as likely to be food allergic as the rest of the population, says Dr. Andrew Liu, a co-author of the study, which he says was sponsored by the National Institutes of Health. “We know that children are more likely to have a food allergy,” says Liu, an associate professor at the National Jewish Medical Research Center in Denver. “And we know that people of black ethnicity tend to have a higher rate of food allergy.” The survey was the first one in the U.S. in which researchers actually took blood samples and tested them for signs of potential food allergy, says Dr. Scott Sicherer, co-author of the study and professor of pediatrics at Mt. Sinai Medical Center. The study involved 8,203 participants who ranged in age from 1 to 85 and had a food sensitivity to egg, milk, peanut and shrimp. Blacks, males and children, especially black male children, were found to have higher levels of the immune responses associated with clinical food allergy, Liu explained. “Further studies have to be done,” Sicherer says. “This group now has to be thought about a little bit extra by doctors.” Researchers didn’t theorize about why black male children may have a higher rate of food allergy. Some experts feel that introducing a food too early in life sets up a child for food allergy. “But our understanding of early introduction is unclear,” Liu says. “There are other signs that early introduction could be protective. Clinical trials are underway now to try to determine whether introducing a food early can cause a food allergy.” Liu says that the next step is exploring why black male children are so high-risk for food allergies. “We hope that this study raises awareness on some key issues, helps us identify the groups at risk, and then target groups for research and policy making.” What causes food allergies in general isn’t clear, says Dr. Anatoly Belilovsky, a Brooklyn-based pediatrician and allergy expert. “Some studies have shown that...

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