I'm sorry to be posting something that isn't craft related but in light of some recent articles I just felt like posting this. I don't often mention my daughter's food allergies and I don't think I've ever made a specific blog post about them. This is something that I posted a while back at a message board. I just wanted people to understand that avoiding allergens is not as simple as it seems, especially when the allergy in question is potentially life threatening. I also want to mention first, in light of all the claims (whether unfounded or not) about people being "too clean" and that being a cause of allergies-we live on a stock farm. My husband, at the time my daughter was a baby, raised hogs and at that time we usually had about 200-400 cattle that we custom fed. So we had a lot of germs floating around, I'm sure. Some days the dust was stinky.
Anyway here is the post-it is quite long-sorry about that:
a LOT of people have no idea what it's like to have to worry about peanut/nut allergies. They don't have to live it every day so they don't think about it. I probably wouldn't either, if our family didn't have to deal with it. A lot of kids are developing them now for whatever reason. We can analyze it to death how it happens, but the fact remains that peanuts and nuts can be deadly for some kids. I'm not going to go into the school thing (we homeschool so I have no experience there) or any other social things. Just a few things we have to watch for. A lot of people think it's as easy as just avoiding foods with nuts in the ingredients or labels that say 'may contain nuts'. Well it's not that easy. A few recent things:
Miracle Gro, Scotts, Vigoro and Schultz (all garden companies) have all told me that their products may contain peanut shells, nut shells or parts of peanut plants. They don't know if all bags have them, or the actual ingredients, or anything but they do know that they *could* be in there.
I just read that Walmart brand Mac and Cheese has a 'may contain traces of peanuts' warning on the box. Mac and cheese. Same with Walmart brand frozen green beans. Good chance that Walmart is covering their butt by putting the warning on almost all of their products but who wants to take the chance?
No generic foods, ever. They don't usually have manufacturer information so there's no way to contact them to find out if they're safe. Oh wait I take that back. We buy generic bottled water and store brand milk.
Even Pizza Hut is no longer safe for us. But we wouldn't know if I hadn't looked at their allergen info online. Luckily we haven't had a problem there but I am not taking the chance. Other people have had mystery reactions there and now they know why. Pizza Hut was the ONLY 'real' restaurant we could go to (there are others that are safe but we don't have them here). Our Dominos (also not always safe) and Papa John's (horrible cs) don't have inside seating. (Since I wrote this Papa John's has become off limits. They have a new dessert that may contain nuts and even though they assured me they would be careful not to let anything that touched it touch our pizza, our daughter had hives right after eating the pizza)
Restaurants like Texas Roadhouse or similar steakhouses would be completely off limits because they would be reeking of peanut dust.
All bakery products are off limits for us. Even if they don't contain nuts, they may have been touched by utensils that touched nut-containing products. Bakeries, unless they are completely nut free, won't ever guarantee their products are safe. We can buy specialty products from nut free places but they are EXPENSIVE.
Minute Maid makes an orange juice that contains plant sterols, some of which may come from peanut plants. So we even have to be careful about which orange juice we buy.
Most restaurants are risky even if we never order anything with nuts. If they make plain pancakes, for example, on the same grill as walnut pancakes, the plain ones are not safe. Around here, if you ask about their policies regarding allergens and preventing cross contamination, they look at you like you have three heads.
We don't buy any Hidden Valley products because when I called, they said they don't know if their products might contain nuts and they refused to tell me. Some other brands are completely or almost completely off limits. They are either not safe for sure or not within my comfort zone. I won't buy anything from Hain Celestial. I will buy very little from Con-Agra. Very very little from Nestle.
We have to be careful about buying produce. If someone has touched the bin of nuts and then the apples, the apples are now contaminated. We have to wash everything, even bananas, thoroughly. Speaking of bins of nuts, we went to a store that had open bins and we avoided the area they were in yet my daughter got hives anyway. We haven't been back to that store.
Some stuffed animals contain ground up nut shells.
We check our groceries carefully. You know how sometimes they will open a box w/ a knife and accidentally cut through the pkg inside? Well if it's that way we don't buy it. If the knife was used to open something with nuts before then it could possibly contaminate any other pkg it accidentally cuts into.
Body products have to be checked carefully. Cosmetics don't have to follow the same labeling law that foods do so if the fragrance contains nut products, it may not (and probably will not) be disclosed.
The company that makes Stella cheese told me that their products may not be safe for people who are allergic to nuts. Cheese.
A lot of healthy and organic foods are off limits.
Flying would be scary, to say the least. I can't even imagine what would happen if someone had an anaphylactic reaction during a flight. And with the recycled air and the amount of snacks served and brought on board, this could easily happen.
I have been looking for years for a bird seed that my daughter can handle safely. As far as I can find, none exist. I have called the Audubon society and the Wild Birds Unlimited in our state and they can't help. Even seeds that should be safe could have been stored or transported in the same bins in which peanuts were previously stored or transported.
We only buy used items if they can be washed thoroughly. I get nervous when we get library books. Same with Netflix videos.
I know there are a lot more things. People think I'm crazy when I mention we can't have generics (even stuff like mac & cheese that you would think is safe) or that we have to worry about things like rice, flour, etc (Kroger's brown rice may have almond cross-contamination).
I know that a lot of people and parents of allergic kids don't have as tight a comfort zone as we do and may not worry about these things. Our allergist thinks we're doing fine considering that our daughter has not had anything worse than hives so far (full body ones once, and we had no idea why) other than her initial reaction. Mystery hives are a common occurrence.