Allergy Shmallergy

Simplifying life for families with food allergies.

The Dangers of a Dairy Allergy November 17, 2017

cereal and milk pixabay StockSnap

 

Three year old, Elijah Silvera, was attending a regular day of preschool in New York City recently, when preschool workers fed him a grilled cheese sandwich despite school papers which formally documented his severe dairy allergy.  Elijah had a severe allergic reaction and went into anaphylaxis.  Standard procedure for anaphylaxis is to administer epinephrine and call 911 immediately.  Instead, the school called Elijah’s mother, who picked up her child and drove him to the hospital herself.  Doctors in the emergency room tried but were unable to save him.

 

Dairy allergy is the most common food allergy among young children.  And, although the peanut can produce some of the most severe allergic reactions (as well as some of the most tragic headlines), an allergy to milk products can be life-threatening.  The myth that a dairy allergy is not serious and doesn’t require as much vigilance causes great frustration to many who are allergic to milk, as does the idea that a food is “allergy free” if it does not contain nuts. To those who live with it, a dairy allergy requires an enormous amount of preparation and education since milk is an ingredient in so many products.

 

Dairy is cow’s milk and found in all cow’s milk products, such as cream, butter, cheese, and yogurt.  Doctors sometimes advise patients with a dairy allergy to avoid other animals’ milk (such as goat) because the protein it contains may be similar to cow and could cause a reaction.  Reactions to dairy vary from hives and itching to swelling and vomiting, to more severe symptoms such as wheezing, difficulty breathing, and anaphylaxis.  Strictly avoiding products containing milk is the best way to prevent a reaction.  The only way to help stop a severe food allergy reaction is with epinephrine; patients should always carry two epinephrine auto-injectors with them at all times.

 

Just like other allergens, cross contamination is a concern for those with a dairy allergy. Even a small amount of milk protein could be enough to cause a reaction. For example, butter and powdered cheese (like the kind you might find on potato chips) are easily spreadable in a pan, within a classroom or on a playground.  And, as with other allergens, hand sanitizer does NOT remove the proteins that cause allergic reactions.  Doctors recommend hand washing with good old soap and water – but wipes work in a pinch.

 

Those allergic to dairy must not only avoid food; they often have to look out for health and beauty products too.  Dairy can be found in vitamins, shampoo, and lotions.  It is critical to read the ingredient labels of every product you buy each time you buy it as ingredients and manufacturing procedures may change.

 

In the United States, any food product containing milk or a milk derivative must be listed as DAIRY or MILK under the current labeling laws (see The Ins and Outs of Reading Food Labels, Aug. 2016).  If you are living or traveling elsewhere, this list of some alternative names for dairy may be useful:

 

milk (in all forms: goat, whole, skim, 1%, 2%, evaporated, dry, condensed, etc)
butter (including artificial butter and margarine)
cream
buttermilk
sour cream
half and half
yogurt
cheese
ice cream
custard
sherbet
pudding
chocolate
ghee
whey (all forms)
casein
caseinates (all forms)
casein hydrolysate
lactose
lactulose
lactoferrin
lactalbumin (all forms)
diacetyl
rennet casein

 

Let’s spread the facts about dairy allergy so that our schools and teachers better understand how to accommodate and care for students with food allergies.   Any allergen can produce severe, life-threatening allergic reactions and all food allergies should be taken seriously and managed with attention.  I sincerely  hope that by informing others we can prevent another tragedy like the one the Silvera family was forced to experience.

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ICFBD… Read On, And Your Plan for Feb. 5th Will Surely Change January 29, 2011

I hope you’re sitting down, because I just heard of a holiday that I want to scream about!  International Ice Cream for Breakfast Day.  Yup, you read that right.

As the story goes, the parents of Joe and Ruth invented ICFBD to beat the winter doldrums in Upstate New York.  The rules of the holiday are simple and easy to follow:  eat ice cream…at breakfast…on the first Saturday in February. ( http://www.itzahckret.com/icecreamforbreakfast.html)

As simple as that tradition is, this could pose a tricky problem for those of us who are avoiding dairy.  I plan on celebrating this February 5th with sorbet.   Unlike sherbet and ice cream, sorbet does not contain dairy.  It’s not hard to find in a grocery store, but sorbet can be tough to find if you’re out on the town.  Here are a few national and local tips for where to celebrate ICFBD in dairy-free style!

strawberry_ice_cream_cone_by-mindmatrix-flickr

photo taken by TheCulinaryGeek via flickr

Baskin Robbins:

Although they carry 31 flavors, it’s worth calling ahead to your local Baskin Robbins to see if one of those flavors is their sorbet.  It comes in Pink Grapefruit Sorbet and Daiquiri Ice.   Additionally, and I’m not sure if this is sacreligious to ICFBD, but there are a few other dairy-free concoctions that Baskin Robbins serves:  Strawberry Citrus, Peach Passion and Wild Mango Fruit Blasts which are free of all allergens (milk, egg, soy, peanut, tree nut, and wheat) according to their nutrition panel.

Ben & Jerry’s:

I can always count on Ben & Jerry to come through for me in a pinch.  And, they do in four different flavors:  Berry, Mango, Lemonade and Pomegranate.  Again, call ahead to make sure it’s on your local franchise’s menu.

Be aware that although Haagen Dazs and Cold Stone Creamery make sorbet, neither can guarantee they don’t contain trace amounts of dairy (and/or other allergens in Cold Stone’s case).  Bummer!

Locally in and around D.C., Pulcinella’s (McLean, VA) serves orange and lemon sorbet in their shells.  Be aware if you also have a nut allergy: last I had checked these were manufactured in a factory that also handles nut products.  Down the street, Sweet Leaf (also McLean) serves delicious strawberry and mango sorbets.

In Falls Church, both Clare and Don’s Beach Shack and Lazy Sundae serve delicious homemade sorbets in a variety of flavors.  Lazy Sundae regularly carries pear and pineapple sorbet, but I’m not certain sorbet is always available on the dessert menu at Clare and Don’s; so again call ahead if you’re going specifically for that.

If you know of any other local or national places that serve sorbet or dairy-free ice cream, help us celebrate International Ice Cream for Breakfast Day by posting a comment below.  Happy ICFBD!