Allergy Shmallergy

Simplifying life for families with food allergies.

IMPORTANT: EpiPen Recall April 1, 2017

IMG_3211Expanding on its recall in other countries, Mylan is now recalling EpiPens in the United States.

 

The recall began when reports of two devices outside of the U.S. failed to activate due to a potential defect in a supplier component.

 

According to Mylan, “The potential defect could make the device difficult to activate in an emergency (failure to activate or increased force needed to activate) and have significant health consequences for a patient experiencing a life-threatening allergic reaction (anaphylaxis). ”

 

As a precaution, Mylan is recalling EpiPens made my their manufacturer, Meridian Medical Technologies, between December 2015 and July 2016.  This recall applies to both their EpiPen Jr. dose (0.15mg) and their regular dose (0.3mg).   The recall does NOT affect generic EpiPens introduced in December 2016.

 

Please see below for lot numbers and expiration dates.  Remember to check any EpiPen sets you may have including those outside of your home (for example, at school, daycare or a relative’s house).  Mylan said that recalled EpiPens will be replaced at no cost to the consumer.

 

For more information as well as product replacement information, please visit Mylan’s site directly.

 

Mylan EpiPen recall April 2017*Please share widely with friends and family as well as school administrators and nurses.*

 

UPDATE:

If your EpiPens are affected by the recall:

  1.  Contact Stericycle to obtain a voucher code for a free, new replacement EpiPen.  Stericycle: 877-650-3494.  Stericycle will send you a pre-paid return package to ship back your recalled EpiPens.
  2. Bring your voucher information to your local pharmacy to receive your free replacement EpiPens.
  3. Send your recalled EpiPens back to Stericycle using their packaging.  Remember: DO NOT send back your recalled EpiPens until you have replacements in hand.

 

Mylan continues to update its recall page with their latest information at mylan.com/epipenrecall.

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Holiday Stress? 4 Tips for Celebrating with Less Than Supportive Family December 14, 2016

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I hear from so many readers this time of year who just need to vent.   Reports of disappointment and frustration frequently get voiced over extended family that isn’t supportive – or, in extreme cases, is totally defiant of – a family’s food allergy concerns.

 

These incidents often center around the holiday table – at a time of year when parent anxiety can be heightened and when all parents put extra pressure on themselves to make the holidays magical for their children.  Family gatherings are typically filled with unspoken expectations.  Which is why it can be doubly disappointing (and sometimes volatile) when things go wrong.

 

Here are a few tips and tricks to help you relax and have fun with your extended family and friends as you celebrate this season:

 

  1.  Educate:  Many adults did not grow up knowing a single person with food allergies.  What comes off as careless to those of us who live this reality, may simply be a matter of ignorance.  A little education may go a long way.  If you want to start that process before you arrive, suggest they watch the Discovery Channel documentary, “Emerging Epidemic: Food Allergies in America.”
  2. Distract and Enjoy:  Perhaps you have a history of issues surrounding meals with your food allergies. If you know your family and your food allergies will not mix, don’t forego the time spent together.  Maybe you can host or help cook the meal.  Maybe you skip the meal and instead all go ice skating or sledding or on the hunt for the best Christmas lights in town.  New traditions will forge new memories!
  3. Be Flexible:  When it comes to the meal, we know you cannot compromise on safety.  Nor should you.  But if you can compromise on other parts of your visit, that may help reduce stress for all.  Be flexible when you can.
  4. Focus on Family:  Just remember that family relationships are important.  Not just to you but to your children.  Try to strengthen that relationship by creating positive memories throughout the year.  Having strong family bonds will defuse the anxiety and expectations of the holidays.

 

For further information about how to navigate family dynamics, please read Food Allergies and Family: Disagreements Not Break-Ups.

 

Focus on Fun: Thanksgiving Games November 17, 2016


Thanksgiving and other food-centric holidays are tough for families with food allergies.  Traditional foods may not be safe and allergic family members sometimes feel excluded from the celebration.

 

Time to interject fun, family traditions that won’t fill you up and are cross-contamination free-guaranteed!

 

One of my favorite ways to do this is to have the kids go on a scavenger hunt.  If you have a small group dining, the hunt could be for objects in the house or yard.  If you have a large group, the hunt could be for answers to questions from family and friends.  [See attached.]

 

Download here:

Focus on Fun – Thanksgiving Scavenger Hunts

 

Pinterest also has a ton of Thanksgiving crafts that kids can complete while watching the Thanksgiving Day Parade and waiting for the turkey.  The art work could decorate the dinner table or the dining room!  This is a great way to get food allergic kids involved with the meal without worry about allergens.

 

Perfect for indoor or out!  Download the ready-made Thanksgiving Scavenger Hunt here:

Focus on Fun – Thanksgiving Scavenger Hunts

 

Hosting Guests with Food Allergies for the Holidays? No Problem! December 11, 2013

As if there isn’t enough to do to get ready for the holidays, preparing your house for visitors can be stressful.  And, treading into the unfamiliar territory of food allergies can completely overwhelm hosts.

 

Well, never fear!  Allergy Shmallergy is here to help and get you started to safely hosting a guest with food allergies.

 

1.  Speak with the food allergic guest or parent (if a child has food allergies) and understand the scope of his/her food allergies.

 

2.  Ask for a list of a few foods that would be helpful for the guest to have on hand.  For example, my parents always make sure there is soy milk in the fridge and safe cereal for my dairy and nut-allergic son.

 

3.  You may wish to consider keeping a basket or clearing out a small drawer to keep safe snacks and food for your guest.  This is especially helpful if your food allergic guest is a child. By knowing where to find safe food, this may reduce the chances that he/she will accidentally reach for something that could cause a reaction.

 

4.  As for the kitchen, if you regularly cook with your guest’s allergen, you’ll want to thoroughly wash the cutlery, cutting boards, counters, pots and pans that you plan on using to prepare food.  A run through the dishwasher should sanitize them, but a good scrub in the sink will work as well.

 

5.  Discuss your menu with your food allergic guest.  In a perfect world, everything would be safe for him/her, but try to ensure that he/she can make a meal out of what is on the table .  Check here for easy substitutions:

Baking Substitutions from the Pros

And, there are many options for dairy-free margarine and butter in the average supermarket.  Look for Smart Balance Organic and Earth’s Balance brands to name a few.

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6.  Finally, be sure to learn how to use your guest’s emergency medications.  You probably won’t need to use them, but you’ll feel much more confident just knowing how.

  

For more tips on hosting a guest with food allergies, read here:

 

A Host’s Guide to Allergies

The Host’s Guide: Part II

The Host’s Guide: Part III

 

Visiting With Food Allergies December 14, 2011

Many people, us included, are hitting the road during this holiday season to visit with family and friends.  We’re headed north to stay at my parents’ house.  Being a guest can be is fun for kids.  But, being a food allergic guest can be complicated.  Typically, guests are uncomfortable making too many demands on the host family.  However, without a lot of specific information, the hosts cannot look out for a food allergic guest’s well-being.

 

It’s important to remember a few things:

1.  Arm your guests with enough information to keep you or your food allergic child safe.  If you can’t eat wheat, for example, let them know something easy you eat for breakfast.  Remind them that leaving out bowls of nuts won’t be safe for a tree nut-allergic child.

 

2.  Offer to go grocery shopping.  For starters, it’s an appreciated gesture.  But, it also gives you an opportunity to buy a few things that ensures you eat safely at mealtimes (like dairy-free margarine and nut-free cookies).

 

3.  Be sure to bring your emergency medications.  As if you leave home without that anyway!  In addition to our On-the-Go Emergency Kit, I also bring my son’s nebulizer and accompanying medications (in case he has an asthmatic reaction), a bottle of Benadryl, and hydrocortisone cream.

 

4.  Teach your hosts how to use an EpiPen using the EpiPen trainer (see Familiarize or Refamiliarize Yourself With How To Use An EpiPen) and let them know where you keep it.  Remind your hosts not to feed your food allergic child without checking the food’s safety with you first.

 

Finally, if it makes sense, refer your hosts to the Grandparents’ Guide Parts I, II and III which gives hosts some helpful hints on how to safely host a food allergic child.  It’s not just for grandparents!

 

Happy travels!

 

The Host’s Guide: Part III June 15, 2011

An important step in hosting someone with a food allergy is preparing the kitchen.  This task initially seems daunting.  But I promise with a few simple steps, your kitchen can be food allergy friendlier in no time.

 
 

Step 1:  Put Away Food Allergens, If Possible

Something I have to commend both my parents and in-laws on was their thoughtfulness when it came to my son’s food allergies.  Both sets of grandparents, instinctively placed all peanuts, tree nut and sesame seed products out of reach from my then toddler.  This didn’t mean that we didn’t keep a close eye on him in the kitchen, of course.  But it did give us all some peace of mind knowing that he couldn’t reach these items on the top shelf of the pantry.

 
 

Step 2:  Create a Safe Snack Drawer

Again, I relay this wonderful idea from my parents and in-laws who cleared out a drawer in their kitchens and filled it with safe snacks for my son.  Now in elementary school, he knows that if he’s hungry he can safely choose anything from that drawer.  Should you lack space in your kitchen: don’t despair!   You can create a safe basket or storage bin instead.  When educating the food allergic child, be sure to make this safe space a big deal.  A special snack drawer will help everyone in the house learn which snacks are safe and deter the child from roaming uninvited amongst potentially unsafe food.

 
 

Bag of groceries
Step 3:  Plan Your Meals and Okay Them Before Shopping

If your visit includes meals at home (including breakfast!), it might be a good idea to talk to the child’s parents about this before grocery shopping.  There may be some hidden ingredient problems that parents who are well-versed in managing food allergies can warn you about as well as some simple substitutions to keep the meal on track.  For example, a sesame seed-allergic child cannot typically eat regular breadcrumbs.  A dairy-allergic individual cannot eat anything made with butter.  But both have simple substitutions found at local supermarkets.

Innova Classicor Wrought-Iron Oval Pot Rack

Step 4:  Pots and Pans; Cutting Boards and Counters

If you regularly cook with the child’s food allergens and plan to use your cooking tools to prepare a meal, you’ll need to wash them.  I encountered this problem right away upon discovering my son’s food allergies.  He was just diagnosed as severely allergic to peanuts right after I had made delicious peanut butter dessert bars.  Agh!  I called my allergist for some guidance on what to do.  He suggested we rinse off any peanut debris and stick the whole baking pan in the dishwasher.  That’s it!

I would also recommend you run all cutting boards in the dishwasher, if possible (or otherwise thoroughly clean) and wipe down all counters to avoid any cross-contamination issues.

 
 

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Hope this guide has been helpful so far!

 

The Host’s Guide: Part II May 25, 2011

Now that you understand your visitor’s food allergy, here are a couple quick things you can do to ensure any mishaps are handled with ease.

 
 
  • If you don’t already have one on hand, now is a good time to ask a friend or neighbor for the name and number of a trusted pediatrician.  Accidents happen (and not always having to do with food allergies).  I cannot tell you the number of times we have seen our surrogate pediatricians in New York and New Jersey while visiting and vacationing.
  • It can’t hurt to keep Children’s Benadryl on-hand.  It’s one of the things I never travel without.  But just in case, I also store one at my parents’ house and in-laws’ beach house for when we visit.  And, yes, we’ve used them.

Most of the time, you won’t need to even think about employing the above.  But you’ll be glad you were ready if you do.

 
 
 

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Next post, we’ll discuss how to prepare your kitchen to make it food allergy friendlier in a snap!