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A Company Who Cares: Snyder’s of Hanover July 28, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — malawer @ 12:59 pm

This is a sponsored post.



Snyder’s of Hanover recently asked me to spread some good news with the food allergy community.  As soon as I heard it, I couldn’t wait to sit down and get this out to you all.


Snyder’s of Hanover, long known for their line of delicious pretzels, have made some changes – for the better.  With their consumers’ interest in mind, they recently transitioned their main factory in Pennsylvania to a peanut-free facility.   This inclusion of food allergy families is so meaningful!


Already beginning to hit supermarket shelves, kids with and without a peanut allergy can enjoy Snyder’s line of pretzels.  A popular item at snack bars, vending machines and sporting events, kids with peanuts allergies can now munch down some Snyder’s pretzels along with their friends and teammates. Our safe snack universe has just been greatly expanded!


[Food allergy note:  Snyder’s continues to make nut-based pretzels, such as Snyder’s of Hanover Peanut Butter Filled Pieces which are manufactured in a separate facility in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania.  The brand also has a snack line which includes chips that are made in this facility.  All products coming from the peanut-free factory in Hanover will have the peanut-free logo under the ingredient label.]


We bought Snyder’s of Hanover Snaps Pretzels for the first time as a tennis team snack.  I got a thrill seeing the “Peanut-Free” symbol following the ingredient list.  Plus, I felt great knowing that other children with peanut allergies, accustomed to being forced to forego group treats, could snack away safely.

***I’d like the decision-making team at Snyder’s of Hanover to understand how much this means to peanut allergic kids and how grateful food allergy parents feel when their children are considered.  I hope that more companies appreciate the powerful statement Snyder’s has made by including peanut allergic kids into their family of products and will think about doing the same. ***


Our bowls of Snaps before they were quickly devoured!



Excited to try Snyder’s of Hanover’s now-safe pretzel line, we thought we’d share our first impressions:


Snaps Pretzels:

These are the perfect snacks for a group!  Our giant bowl of pretzels was empty in minutes thanks to their fun design and great taste which allows for just the right amount of salt goodness.




Soudough Nibblers

Sourdough Nibblers:

I’m fairly certain I’m already addicted to these pretzels.  They are delicious, crisp and crunchy.  And their bite-size shape are perfect when you’re looking for a nibble.  It’s impossible to eat just one without daydreaming about more.  You’ve been warned…




The classic.  Slender, baked to perfection, and flavorful, these crispy pretzels are great for dipping.  Try them dipped in cream cheese for a satisfying salty/sweet snack (a favorite combo of mine since middle school).  These pretzels also make hilarious eye glasses that are sure to crack your kids up.






These 100-calorie packs are perfect for people on-the-go.  I would stash these in my desk drawer and plan to pack them in my boys’ lunches come fall.  In the meantime, I’m popping a few into my beach and pool bags!  A satisfying snack on its own – you could also pair this will snack-size hummus for a healthy mid-day pick-me-up.



Thank you to Snyder’s of Hanover and kudos on the factory transition — and a big “woohoo” for the rest of us!



Summer Chic and Simple Food Allergy Solutions July 22, 2016

Filed under: Parent Sanity,Preparedness,Travel — malawer @ 4:39 pm

It’s hot out there! And, as you know, carrying epinephrine is tricky in warm weather. Here’s how I’m carrying my son’s epinephrine autoinjectors these days.


Because the heat is intense these days, be sure to pack your epinephrine in some kind of cooler when you’re outside. Ideally, epinephrine should be stored at 77 degrees F. (25° Celsius). But while you’re out and about, manufacturers recommend that epinephrine be kept between 59° and 86°F.


I recently found this cute, envelope shaped cooler bag in our local supermarket for under $5.   It’s stylish on its own (like a clutch!) and fits nicely in both my purse and pool bag.  A similar style can be found here:  Igloo Lunch Clutch.

I stick a lunch box sized cooler pack in the insulated cooler bag, throw in my Emergency On-The-Go Pack already stocked with my son’s autoinjectors (or wrap them in a kitchen towel) to keep them right around room temperature.  Sometimes, I’ll throw in a juice box (someone always wants one anyway) to create a buffer between the cooler pack and epinephrine.


Stylish AND safe!

Igloo Clutch with my Emergency On-The-Go Pack


Everything fits perfectly!




Food Allergy Podcast: Positive Parenting June 29, 2016

Filed under: Health,Technology — malawer @ 8:30 am

Last week I had the pleasure of speaking with Lyndsay Edwards of the Allergy Blog Awards UK and recording a podcast about food allergies.


As a fellow food allergy parent, Lyndsay herself is an award-winning blogger for Living with Cow’s Milk Protein Allergy and writes weekly for The Children’s Allergy Foundation.  Through Allergy Blog Awards UK, Lyndsay is adept at gathering useful information and recording her interviews in the form of a podcast. Her podcasts are downloadable, fun to listen to and easy to digest.


My podcast focuses on a topic near and dear to my heart: how to parent positively in the face of food allergies.  Food allergies are nerve wracking.  Parents have to put in extra effort to avoid transferring their anxieties to their children.  And, parents of food allergic children must focus on empowering their kids in a unique way.


Listen to the podcast here:

Allergy Shmallergy Living Positively with Food Allergies

4. Erin Malawer - Allergy SHMAllergy Living Positively With Food Allergies


Food Allergy Advancements: DBV Technologies’ Viaskin Patch June 27, 2016

Filed under: Health,Technology — malawer @ 10:37 am

1599,Viaskin-tenu-doigtsUntil recently, there was no “treatment” for those with food allergies.  We may now be on the cusp of a big breakthrough for patients with peanut and milk allergies.


I’ve been following all the latest buzz about Viaskin, a peanut patch developed by biopharmaceutical company DBV Technologies.  This patch aims to desensitize patients allergic to peanuts through their skin, so that the risk and reaction associated with accidental ingestion may be reduced.


DBV is also partnering with Nestlé Health Science in developing on a non-invasive, ready-to-use patch-test tool to diagnose milk protein allergy called MAG1C.  Between 5 and 15% of infants worldwide have a milk allergy.  But because their symptoms can sometimes be non-specific, this allergy is often difficult to diagnose.  Missed diagnoses can lead to nutritional imbalance, infant distress, and in some cases to life-threatening anaphylaxis.

To learn more about DBV’s innovative approach and more about Viaskin specifically, I interviewed Susanna Mesa, Senior Vice President of Strategy for DBV Technologies.


1) How did DBV decide to pursue a treatment for food allergies?


Dr. Pierre-Henri Benhamou, Chairman and CEO of DBV Technologies, was a pediatric gastroenterologist, and in his daily practice, he often worked with patients suffering from food allergies. As there are no approved treatments for food allergies, it was clear there was a large, unmet medical need that was not being addressed. While some traditional immunotherapy routes had been explored in the academic setting, the severe side effects associated with these other methods limited drug development in the past. Pierre-Henri envisioned developing a treatment for food allergies that was safe and efficacious, but also, that was patient-friendly and convenient. This is how the Viaskin patch was developed, with patients in mind.


2) What can you tell readers about the treatment itself, how does it work, what is it, etc.?


Viaskin is not currently approved by the regulatory agencies, and the treatment is being tested in multiple clinical trials in the U.S., Canada and Europe. The most advanced product candidate is Viaskin Peanut, which is currently being investigated in a Phase III trial in children ages 4-11 years.


Viaskin bridges cutting-edge technology with a scientific breakthrough. The Viaskin patch is based on Epicutaneous Immunotherapy, or EPIT, DBV’s novel immunotherapy method, which aims to desensitize food allergic patients by leveraging the skin’s immune characteristics. EPIT targets the upper layer of skin where there is a concentration of antigen presenting cells that activate the immune system without allowing passage of the allergen into the bloodstream. In clinical trials, we have observed that the absence of allergen in bloodstream allows Viaskin to desensitize patients without causing any serious adverse events.


Today, Viaskin is being investigated in clinical trials for peanut and milk allergies, and preclinical work for egg allergy is ongoing.

3) Do you expect to expand your technology to treat other common food allergens such as tree nuts, shellfish, soy, etc.? Is DBV tailoring their success to help food allergy patients in different countries (i.e., peanuts are some of the most dangerous in the US, but sesame is more common in Israel and buckwheat in Japan, etc.)?


Our mission is to offer a novel, efficacious and patient-friendly therapy to all food allergies patients. Our technology platform allows us to target many food allergies, but we try to prioritize our development by assessing which areas have the highest unmet medical need, which is why we are aiming to address peanut allergies first. However, milk allergy, for example, while it is very common in U.S. pediatric patients, is also very common in Asia and other countries. We are a global company, with headquarters in the U.S. and France, and we hope that in the future we will continue to increase our reach and presence in other countries as well.

4) How long is the average treatment period?

At this stage because we are still investigational product, we believe the duration of treatment will be based on each individual patient’s needs.

5) What is the goal for the average patient? Is it tolerance to a certain level of their allergen or are they considered to be no longer allergic?

In our ongoing clinical trials, we are evaluating patients’ desensitization over time, but our ultimate goal is to derisk patients from the life-threating reactions that put them in jeopardy —we want to get them to a level of desensitization where they will be protected from the risk associated with accidental exposure to peanut protein.

6) What is required of the average patient following treatment with a Viaskin patch? Is there any medication or maintenance involved?


As of today, there is no approved medication or maintenance to treat food allergies. We believe maintenance regimes will be tailored to each patient specifically by his or her physician.

7) What is the status of the three Viaskin patches? Are they available to food allergic patients?


The Viaskin treatment is still in the pre-approval phase, and as such is not yet available for patients. Our Viaskin Peanut patch is the most advanced and a Phase III trial is being conducted for this treatment for patients ages 4 to 11. Viaskin Milk is currently undergoing a Phase II trial, and we are still in the pre-clinical stage with our treatment for hen’s egg allergies.

8) Who is a candidate for Viaskin Peanut? Are there any age or other exclusions from effective treatment?


The treatment is not currently approved.


9) What is the benefit of using the Viaskin patch over oral immunotherapy?


There is currently no approved treatment for food allergies, and because of that, there haven’t been any comparative studies. But, what we want to offer patients is a convenient, safe, effective treatment, and we believe that there is a unique value in that focus that it is not currently available with other methods of immunotherapy.

10) How can someone get more information regarding using the Viaskin Patch for treatment? Where can they find doctors/clinics using this innovative technology?


As Viaskin is still in the pre-approval phase, the patch is not yet available for use. With respect to any ongoing and future clinical trials, trial centers that are actively enrolling patients are listed on where information on the various participating centers is available, as well as on the DBV website.




Updated (July 12, 2016)! – Peanut Residue in Flour: Growing List of Product Recalls June 15, 2016

Filed under: Grocery and Supermarkets,School — malawer @ 9:30 am


Updated (7/12/16):


I just wanted to make sure that everyone was aware of the products recalls underway.  Grain Craft, a wholesale supplier of flour to manufacturers, found peanut residue in its soft red winter flour.  It has notified the FDA and many companies who use that flour are issuing voluntary recalls.




FDA’s Investigation of Low-Level Peanut Residue Found in Limited Flour and Flour Products


Grain Craft Recall Response


FARE Alerts page information.



Products currently recalled – click on link for complete list and details:

Honey Maid Teddy Grahams Cinnamon Cubs Graham Snacks (sold in Foodservice channels)


Snyder-Lance Lance brand Oyster Crackers


Spartan Fresh Selection Cheesecakes (select varieties using Kellogg’s graham cracker crust)


Tippin’s Gourmet Pies 8-inch Key Lime pies


Garnder Pie Company Cheesecake and Key Lime Pies


Armour Snackmakers Keebler Animal Crackers


Mars Chocolate – select varieties and runs of COMBOS snacks


Kellogg’s (Kellogg’s, Keebler, Famous Amos, Mother’s, Murray – mostly select cookies, brownies, and crumbs)

Rold Gold Pretzel – select varieties

Hostess Snack Cakes and Donuts

Cinnabon Stix   

Chick Fil-A Chocolate Chunk Cookies   

Acme 12″ Decorated Chocolate Chip Cookies   

Jewel 12″ Decorated Chocolate Chip Cookies

Safeway 8″ Single Layer Red Velvet Cake



Hostess has reported two allergic reactions following consumption of their products.  Please check your pantry and contact the manufacturers directly with any questions.


FYI:  You can sign up to receive food allergy alerts via FARE (Food Allergy Research Education) here or register to receive FDA alerts here.



FDA Safety Recall information page:

FARE Food Allergy Alerts information page:




Allergy-Friendly Bakeries in the Metro DC Area May 31, 2016

Read below for our continually updated list of allergy-friendly bakeries in the DC metro area.



With all the end-of-school, summer birthday, last sports game, graduation parties to be had, there’s no time to bake your own free-from desserts.  Let’s support these fabulous businesses who are trying to make life a little easier for families living with food allergies.


When you’re looking to buy baked goods for someone with food allergies, it’s feels almost impossible to find a safe option.  Here’s a list of some Nut-free, Gluten-free, and/or Vegan (read: Dairy and Egg-free) bakeries in the DC metro area to satisfy your sweet tooth.  (I’m salivating as I research these great places and now dying to go to each and every one!)


Cole’s Moveable Feast Picture
Led by a former attorney turned home baker, Cole’s Moveable Feast serves the Northern Virginia area.  They offer custom cakes, cupcakes, cookies, seasonal breads, pastries, and pies baked to order without dairy, egg, nuts, gluten and/or any other allergens you specify.  Using custom gluten-free flour lends and egg substitutes, their biggest sellers are cakes and cupcakes made without gluten, nuts, dairy or egg, but they can accommodate nearly any allergen (including soy and corn).   NOTE:  they even have a weekly snack delivery option!
Free from:  Nuts, gluten, dairy, egg; can customize to exclude other allergens.
Phone/online orders only.


Baked by Yael
A tree nut-free and peanut-free bakery in D.C.  Among their many products, they offer gluten-free chocolate cakepops as well as dairy-free gingersnaps and egg-free raspberry bars.  A great stop after a day at the National Zoo.
Free from: Tree nuts, Peanuts.  Some goods: Dairy, Egg, Gluten.

Dog Tag Bakery
A nut-free bakery and cafe with a mission to support veterans.  They serve everything from egg and cheese sandwiches to muffins, croissants, quick breads and desserts.
Located in Georgetown.
Free from: Nuts
Happy Tart BakeryÉclair
We are a 100% gluten free French patisserie!  We do bread, cupcakes, tarts and other wondrous goodies! 
Located in Del Ray, Alexandria.
Free from: Gluten, Dairy, Egg, Soy, Nuts

Out of the Bubble Bakery
Based in VA
We specialize in cakes, cupcakes, and cookies for those with food restrictions.
Phone/online orders only.
Free from: Dairy, Nuts, Eggs, Soy, Dye, Gluten and made without GMOs.  Vegan and organic.

Sweet Serenity Bakery
Based in VA
Every ingredient is meticulously checked and manufacturers are contacted for anything questionable.  We also do not use any artificial flavorings, preservatives, hydrogenated oils, or high fructose corn syrup.
Phone/online orders only.
Free from:  Eggs, Peanuts, and Tree Nuts


Cookies/Scooby.jpgThe Lemonade Bakery
A dedicated Egg-free, Peanut-free, and Tree Nut-free bakery.
Delivery of cakes, cupcakes, cookies, scones, and breads to the metro-DC area.
Phone/online orders only. Delivery optional.

Egg-Free, Dairy-Free, and Nut-free bakery  and can also make Gluten-free, Vegan, or Custom Allergy-free cupcakes.
See Allergy Shmallergy’s Happy Birthday post from December 2010.
Phone/online orders only.

Hello Cupcake in Dupont and Capital Hill, although not a nut-free facility, offers Gluten-Free and Vegan options.

1361 Connecticut Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20036
Just south of Dupont Circle, across from the Metro

705 8th Street, SE
Washington, DC 20003
3 blocks south of Eastern Market Metro


Fancy Cakes by Leslie, in Bethesda, offers some Gluten-free selections including cupcakes, cookies, and marzipan.

4939 Elm Street
Bethesda, MD  20814


 Sweetz Bakery, located in a kiosk at the Dulles Town Center mall (near the food court), is a custom bakery that makes Gluten and Dairy-free cakes as well as Vegan flavors.

Dulles Town Center Mall

21100 Dulles Town Center Circle

Sterling, VA 20165


Sticky Fingers

An award-winning Vegan Bakery, also available at many retail locations including select Whole Foods in the mid-Atlantic and DC-metro area.  Everything they make is Dairy and Egg-free, and they also offer a few Nut-free and Gluten-free desserts (but are not a nut and wheat-free facility).

1370 Park Rd NW

Washington, DC  20010


 Sweet and Natural

An all-Vegan restaurant, also offers a selection of Vegan desserts – some of which are also available in local health food stores.

4009 34th St
Mt Rainier, MD 20712


Cake Love

Offers Vegan and Gluten-Free products.

Locations throughout the metro DC area including:

DC; Arlington, Tysons Corner, & Fairfax, VA;

Silver Spring, National Harbor, MD


Dama Bakery

Serves Ethiopian and French pastries in Vegan and Gluten-free varieties.

1505 Columbia Pike
Arlington, VA



Whole Foods sells “Safe For School” Nut-free cookies in their bakery section.


The Westbard Giant in Bethesda sells Nut-free cupcakes. According to one shopper, you can usually find them in the freezer located in the bakery (not the regular freezer section), but they are sometimes displayed in the bakery section. They carry a label stating that they were made in a nut free facility.  Convenient!


 For even more Vegan bakeries located in and around DC, check out the list at and


Sesame: The 9th Food Allergen? May 24, 2016

Filed under: Advocacy,Grocery and Supermarkets — malawer @ 1:36 pm

Many people realize the seriousness of living with some of the top food allergens like peanuts, tree nuts and shellfish.  But few are aware of the challenges of living with the fastest growing allergen: sesame seeds.  Here’s what it’s like to manage a food allergy outside of the well-know, well-labelled “Top 8.”

My most recent article appears in The Allergy and Asthma Network’s magazine, Allergy and Asthma Today (Summer 2016 edition).  Check out the the rest of this incredibly informative resource:  Allergy and Asthma Today (Summer 2016, Vol 14, Issue 2).

It looks amazing in print, check it out:  AAT Food Allergy Column – Sesame Summer 2016

Or, read it here:



photo courtsey of

As a toddler, my son was diagnosed allergic to eight different foods: peanuts, tree nuts, dairy, eggs, wheat, soy, corn and sesame seeds. Finding foods manufactured without cross-contamination to nuts is tough; meals that don’t use butter, a challenge; and I dare you to find a commercial meal that doesn’t contain soy. But of all the foods my son has been allergic to, it’s sesame seeds that have caused the most problems. By far. And, of all the food allergies he wishes to outgrow, sesame seeds are at the top of his list.


So, why is something this small causing such big problems?


Of the approximately 160 foods that people are allergic to, just eight are responsible for 90% of all food allergy reactions. In the U.S., those “top 8” foods are:

  1. Dairy
  2. Eggs
  3. Fish
  4. Shellfish
  5. Tree nuts
  6. Peanuts
  7. Wheat
  8. Soy


Sesame seeds are number nine.


Sesame allergy is growing at a faster rate in the United States than other food allergies. Many believe this rise may be partially due to the prevalence of international cuisine on American plates.


Because sesame is a less common allergy, it can be difficult to get proper information about sesame ingredients and manufacturers are not required to list it by name on labels.


Sesame is commonly found in Middle Eastern, Indian and Asian cuisines; it offers protein in vegetarian dishes. Sesame shows up in salad dressing, marinades, granola bars and as an ingredient in (not just on) hamburger buns and baked goods. It may also be found in beauty products such a lip balms and lotions.


Our family allergist described sesame seeds as a cousin allergy to the peanut. Individuals allergic to sesame are often also allergic to peanuts and tree nuts.  Like nut allergies, allergic reactions to sesame seeds can be severe with symptoms including difficulty breathing, throat swelling and anaphylaxis. Those with a sesame allergy should carry an epinephrine auto-injector to protect them against accidental exposure.


The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires manufacturers to highlight the top eight allergens. Whereas whey, butter and cream must be labeled as “milk” somewhere on an ingredient list, sesame seeds may be listed under a variety of names [see below] including some generic terms like “flavoring,” “spices,” and “seasoning.”


If you are allergic to sesame seeds, you may already know to look for some of the following alternative names for them:

  • benne, bene seed, benniseed
  • gingilly, gingilly oil
  • sesamol, sesamolina, sesamum indicum
  • sim sim
  • tahini
  • til
  • vegetable oil
  • natural flavoring
  • spices
  • seasoning


When in doubt, call the manufacturer should help determine if a product is allergy safe.


Given the dramatic increase in the number of sesame seed allergies in the United States, it may benefit the FDA to get ahead of the trend and follow their counterparts in Canada and Europe by adding a requirement to list sesame seeds as well.




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