Allergy Shmallergy

Simplifying life for families with food allergies.

Fun for Everyone: Candy Bar Birthday Party April 12, 2017

I wish I could take credit for this adorable idea.  But I can’t.  My friend is just a genius.

 

Her own kids aren’t allergic, but my thoughtful and creative friend had kids with food allergies on her mind when she thought about what special treat her daughter could share with ALL of her party guests.  Like my friend, many parents are concerned with how to be inclusive of guests with food allergies.  Sometimes, the best answer is also the simplest.

 

After singing a rowdy chorus of “Happy Birthday” to our favorite 7 year old, the kids were each given a festive party bag that they could fill with any (or ALL) of their favorite candy.  Best of all, everything was dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free and most was also gluten-free.  There’s nothing that makes a child happier than being included in on the fun!

 

Plus, no goodie bag needed!  The kids all got to bring their loot home.  HUGE bonus in my opinion!

 

If you’re going to replicate this fantastic idea, I would recommend a few things:

  1.  Check Allergy Shmallergy’s Safe List of Nut-Free Candy page.  This is not a comprehensive list.  And, it doesn’t account for other allergies.  But you’ll find that many of the candies listed are also dairy-free, egg-free and gluten-free.  Read ingredient lists carefully and if you have any doubts of an item’s safety, snap a photo and email the child’s parent to verify.
  2. Save ingredient lists and bring them to the party.  If anything needs to be double-checked, you’ll have all your information at hand.
  3. Be careful when serving similar looking items (like M&Ms and Skittles).  Not only is chance of cross-contamination a concern with unwrapped candy, but I’ve seen unsafe candy fall into safe candy bowls.  For the purposes of a party, I would stick to the idea that “everything on the table is safe for party guests” principle.

 

Look at this fun, inviting table set up!
Looking for containers and scoops like the ones above?

Set of 12 Clear Plastic Candy Scoops

Penny Candy Jars (set of 2)

Amcan Scalloped Container, Large

Vista Premium Quality Plastic 10″ Serving Bowl (set of 2)


  
Smarties.  A classic!


Caught red handed!  My son and his best friend/brother of the birthday girl.

(Thank you in advance! A portion of the proceeds of the affiliate links go toward AllergyStrong.org – an organization aimed at helping low income and at risk families with food allergies.)

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Valentine’s Day: Safe List of Nut-Free Candy February 4, 2015

If your sweetheart is allergic to peanuts or tree nuts, be very careful what you’re giving them for Valentine’s Day.  Candy is certainly not an essential part of Valentine’s Day, but if it’s on the menu you’ll want to make sure you’re giving them a safe treat rather than a trip to the ER.

The Bay Area Allergy Advisory Board compiles a list of peanut and tree nut free candy that could save the day!   As always, double check the ingredient lists to verify that there have been no changes in ingredient lists or manufacturing practices.  And, pay particular attention to candy that has been miniaturized or made larger as that often has manufacturing (and therefore, food allergy) implications.  Some of the items are available online but many are commercially available.  Among the many items they list, are:

  • Skittles
  • Dum Dum lollipops
  • Haribo Gummies
  • Peeps (I’ll remind you of this one in another couple of months)
  • Laffy Taffy
  • Wonka’s Nerds
  • Dubble Bubble
  • SweeTarts
  • Twizzlers
  • Tootsie Pops and Tootsie Rolls
  • Rolo
  • Starburst Fruit Chews, Lollipops, and Jelly Beans
  • Junior Mints
  • Lifesavers
  • Sour Patch Kids
  • Hershey’s plain chocolate kisses (not King Size or Holiday/Seasonal Bags)
  • Hershey’s plain chocolate bar personal size only (not King Size or Minis)
  • Smarties
  • Hot Tamales

Peruse the full list here:

The Bay Area Allergy Advisory Board’s 2015 List of Peanut and Tree Nut Free Candy

           

 

Halloween and Food Allergies October 28, 2012

  

Halloween tends to make parents of food allergic children fairly tense.  And, with good reason:  so much peanut-laden and dairy-filled  candy!  So much of it unlabeled in those small snack sizes!

 

Most of us aren’t used to our children being around such an abundant amount of their allergens and we worry how they will feel.

 

But there are a few simple ways to keep kids safe during trick-or-treat time!

 

1.  Have a talk with your kids about the various candies that are not be safe for them.  It’s important to have this discussion before heading out the door on their sugar scavenger hunt so they can make wise decisions when grabbing goodies from plastic pumpkins.

 

2.  Also, remind your child not to eat ANY candy along the way.  All candy consumption should be done under your supervision and ideally, back at a house.

 

3.  If you’ll be trick-or-treating with your child, remember to bring their Emergency On-the-Go-Pack (with EpiPens) and a cellphone in addition to a flashlight. I have often brought a grocery bag to stick any peanutty treats in as we go.

 

4.  Stock up on allergy-friendly candy (or fun Halloween toys, like glow rings and plastic spiders) for your child and let them know you have their favorite treats on hand.  You have several options to work with here:

a.  If you know the neighbors well, it’s a great idea to plant some safe candy around the neighborhood so that your child can get the full experience of trick-or-treating and you get the peace of mind that they’re receiving treats they can enjoy.

b.  If you have a young child, you can follow them door to door and just slip one into your child’s bag in lieu of an allergic treat.

c.  In the case of older kids:  they can exchange their UNsafe loot for safe candy at the end of the night.  Knowing that they have a safe option at home will ensure they have a great time trick-or-treating and prevent them from feeling disappointed if house after house is handing out Peanut M&Ms, for example.

 

5.  Finally, make the fun and inevitable candy swap work for your child’s allergy!  A supervised candy swap can serve your food allergic child well!  Make a pile of all the candy he/she is allergic to and/or doesn’t prefer and let him trade away for things that are safe.  They can either trade with friends (again, under your supervision) or swap with the safe candy/treats you purchased!  Everyone wins!

 

Individually wrapped candy (often in snack sizes) don’t always have ingredient information.  Make the internet your friend in making sure candy is safe for your child:

 

Happy Halloween!

 

ScanAvert Allergy App August 9, 2011

My sister-in-law read about a clever new app called ScanAvert ($1.99 per month) which aims at helping people read ingredient lists.  We’d begin by entering in my son’s food allergies.  By scanning the barcode of a grocery item, ScanAlert warns you if the item contains a particular allergen.  This app also offers substitutes, allergy recall information, pharmacy, and GF information in addition to listing ingredients.  By its own description, ScanAvert could be useful not only for the FA, but also for the diet and nutrition conscience, and individuals who diabetic, pregnant, or otherwise following a restricted diet.

 

I may give this a try as a back-up system.  It’s easy to miss one ingredient in a list written in fine print.  However, it feels funny to try a barcode scan to tell me if something is safe for my child.  But, maybe that’s because he’s severely allergic to several allergens and not merely sensitive.  I would definitely rely on this if I were using it for nutrition and other non-life threatening situations.

 

Has anyone ever used this app?  Would you?