Make a New Year’s Resolution to Benefit Those with Food Allergies

When it comes to food allergies, resolve to make 2014 a safe and fulfilling year for you and your family. The beginning of a new year is a good time to take a step back and think about what more you can do for yourself, a loved one with food allergy, and the food allergy community. We hope you’ll join us in making this year a great one by being prepared, raising awareness, and advocating for all those with food allergies. Here are a few New Year’s resolutions to add to your list:

1. Be prepared in case of an allergic reaction
Accidents happen. Make it your goal to take every precaution necessary to be prepared in case of an allergic reaction.

  • Wear emergency medical identification at all times. Through our partnership with MedicAlert, we offer discounted medical IDs and services through the MyVoice program. Whether you have a food allergy yourself or are the parent of a child with food allergies, the MyVoice program is there for you to help communicate your vital medical information in an emergency situation.
  • Always carry your epinephrine auto-injector wherever you go. Make it your goal to never leave home without your medication!
  • Develop an action plan. Work with your doctor to fill out a Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Emergency Care Plan. This document outlines recommended treatment in case of an allergic reaction, is signed by your physician and includes emergency contact information.

2. Volunteer your time to raise awareness about food allergies
There are many opportunities to get more involved with educating others and advocating for those with food allergies.

  • Sign up for a FARE Walk for Food Allergy or volunteer to help make your local event a success.
  • Give a presentation at a school, library, or workplace. You can use one of our template presentations to educate others and raise awareness in your community. You can also purchase a children’s book to read to a classroom at a local school.
  • Sign up for the FARE Advocacy Action Center to make sure you are notified when legislation in your area is pending that needs your support.

3. Learn something new about food allergy
Educating yourself and others about the serious nature of food allergies is critical to moving our cause forward.

  • Sign up for our free monthly webinars. FARE hosts educational webinars designed to help you live life well with food allergies. Each month, we feature leading experts discussing the topics related to food allergy that you most want to hear about.
  • Subscribe to our blog to keep up with the latest news. Our blog features recipes, news, activities, and more about all the most important matters in food allergy today.

Thank you for your support in 2013, and we look forward to fulfilling our New Year’s resolutions along with you!

Allergy-friendly Hot Chocolate and Nutmeg Cut-out Cookie Recipes

Whether you’re making cookies for Santa Claus, or a holiday party, these spiced sugar cookies are sure to please. Pair them with a steaming mug of milk-free hot chocolate and you’re all set for a festive treat that will please kids and adults alike!

Nutmeg Cut Out Cookies

Milk-Free Hot Chocolate

  • 1 T. plus 1 tsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 cups vanilla-flavored rice beverage
  • 1 T. plus 1 tsp. molasses (not blackstrap)
  • Dash of salt

Place all ingredients in saucepan, over medium heat. Stir often to be sure cocoa powder dissolves. Serve hot.

Nutmeg Cut-Out cookies


  • 1 cup milk-free margarine, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 T. water, 1 1/2 T. oil, 1 tsp. baking
  • powder, mixed together
  • 2 3/4 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • dash of salt


  • 4 T. milk-free margarine, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups plus 1 T. confectioners sugar
  • 2 T. water
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

In large mixing bowl, with an electric mixer on medium speed, beat margarine and sugars until creamy. Beat in vanilla extract; and water, oil, and baking powder mixture. Beat in flour, nutmeg, and salt. Knead dough into a ball. Cover and chill overnight. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Divide dough in quarters. Roll each quarter out, 1/2-inch thick, between 2 pieces of wax paper. Cut out dough with desired cookie cutters. Place 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 11 minutes, or until done. Cool on wire racks. Frost with Cookie Frosting and decorate, if desired.


In medium bowl, with an electric mixer on medium speed, combine all ingredients until smooth. More water or confectioners sugar may be added, 1 T. at a time, until desired spreading consistency is achieved.

These recipes, along with more than 150 others, are available in our Holiday Cookbook – available for just $12.99 on our online store

6 Tips for Celebrating the Holidays with Food Allergies

It’s that time of year when holiday parties fill the calendar. Whether you’re a guest or hosting a party yourself, food allergies shouldn’t hold you back from seeing family and friends during holidays. Here are some tips that could help alleviate worries and allow you to enjoy celebrating the season.

RSVP – ASAP! Be a great guest by contacting your host as soon as your invitation arrives. Start by communicating gently and by educating others; remember, your host is hoping to plan the “perfect” holiday party or meal.

Discuss your concerns about food allergens, the possibility of cross-contact, and how you can best create a safe environment. Talk to your host or hostess about asking guests to wash their hands after eating if allergen foods are present. By having an interactive conversation about food allergies in general, you have an opportunity to educate without offending your host.

BYOSF (Bring Your Own Safe Food). Offer to bring safe food so that you know there will be something there that you or your child can eat and your host doesn’t have to worry about separate food preparations. Share dishes that would be allergen-free and a delight for everyone attending. If you are inviting guests to your house, ask them to contribute non-food items such as cups, napkins, or their own beverages.

Ship ahead. If you’re flying to visit friends or family, you may want to make some simple allergy-free foods that travel well and ship them to your host ahead of time.

Start the trend. Include an ingredient listing card with your food contribution to the party. Also, add an ingredient card to all food gifts you send out from your kitchen. If you are hosting, keep all labels from the food you prepare in case one of your guests has a food allergy as well. This is a great opportunity to raise awareness at a party and with friends.

Tag-team to keep an eye on young ones. Plan ahead with your partner or another adult to divide the task of supervising your young child. Create a signal for silently alerting each other to switch. With designated “on duty” times, your child will be supervised, and each adult will have time to socialize. This keeps little hands away from allergens that may be out (such as a bowl of chocolates or nuts).

The rules. Go over “the rules” for parties with your kids in the car so that the most important safety rules, such as not eating a food unless he or she has checked with you first, will be fresh in their minds when you arrive.

As always, be sure to ask about ingredients, check labels when possible, and carry medications with you in case of a reaction.

Happy Holidays!

Food Allergy Research Update

FARE’s Fall edition of Food Allergy News contained a research update on four new food allergy studies, two of which received funding from FARE. Excerpts about the findings of each study are below; click the links to read the full text in our e-newsletter.

Awareness May Be Stabilizing Emergency Department Visits

In 2011, researchers reported that food allergies were responsible for a significantly higher number of emergency department (ED) visits than previously thought. That FARE-funded study, published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, found that food allergies caused 224,000 visits to the ED each year. The prevalence of food allergy continues to rise and one might expect that this growing number of people with food allergy would increase the number of ED visits caused by food allergy. However, a new study conducted by the same research team, also with funding from FARE, suggests that ED visits are not keeping pace with population increases in food allergy. The data suggest that greater awareness and education are having a favorable effect on the number of ED visits caused by food allergy.

Read more on page 4>

Impact of Food Allergy on Inner-City Children with Asthma

Food allergies and asthma often go hand-in-hand, but researchers do not fully understand the relationship between the two diseases. A research team led by Dr. James L. Friedlander (Boston Children’s Hospital/Harvard Medical School) surveyed 300 elementary school students with asthma who participated in the School Inner City Asthma Study (SICAS) from 2008 to 2011 to learn more about the connections between food allergy and asthma. Read more about the findings of the study, published online by the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice in September 2013.

Read more on page 4 >

Understanding Anaphylaxis

A new study out of Australia examines a large number of cases of anaphylaxis. This analysis also provides information about the many different inflammatory mediators—proteins and other substances released by the cells of the immune system—that play a role in potentially life-threatening reactions.

Read more on page 5 >

Vitamin D and Food Allergy

Babies who are deficient in vitamin D are more likely to have a food allergy, according to a study of over 5,000 one-year-old infants conducted by Australian researchers. The study, published in the April 2013 issue of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (JACI), provided the first direct evidence that an adequate vitamin D level may protect babies against food allergies.

Read more on page 5 >

The full research update was published in the Fall 2013 issue of FARE’s Food Allergy News. Read more of the newsletter here.

The Promise of the School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act

George-800By: George Dahlman, Vice President of Advocacy & Government Relations

Parents of children with food allergies across the country celebrated when President Obama signed into law the School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act in November. They did so with good reason. Here was a federal recognition and remedy for the risks that children with food allergies face in our schools.

To be sure, the successful passage of the legislation was a landmark achievement for the food allergy community, raising awareness and sensitivity to the issue, and for FARE, which had been working on it for over two years. But it’s also important to recognize what the Act does — and what it doesn’t do.

The law provides a financial incentive to states that require their schools to (a) stock non-designated epinephrine (i.e., epinephrine not prescribed to a specific student) and (b) provide training for staff in how to use an epinephrine auto-injector. It does not require schools to stock epinephrine. The governance of schools has traditionally been a state and local issue, and so Congress is reluctant to mandate requirements. This incentive approach (rather than a mandate) is used commonly in Congress in other laws affecting state and local issues.

So what does the federal legislation mean for your school? It means that the presence of stock epinephrine in your school is still determined by your state legislature and your local school authorities. The federal government has simply offered a financial incentive for these entities to require the measures noted above.

Currently, only four states – Maryland, Nebraska, Nevada and Virginia – require their schools to stock epinephrine. They are the only states that are eligible for the federal incentive. While another 26 states have laws or guidelines in place allowing schools to stock epinephrine, they are not eligible for the federal incentive. In those states, the burden is on local school authorities.  They have been given permission to stock epinephrine. They now need to acquire the epinephrine and train personnel on administration. Frequently, that means the burden is on food allergy advocates to educate, motivate and assist their local schools in making it happen.

Certainly it’s FARE’s hope that the Act will serve as the catalyst for states to recognize the need, not only to allow schools to stock epinephrine, but to require that this important medication be available to all students, and to ensure that a variety of personnel are trained to administer it.

At the end of the day, it is parents and supportive school staff that will make sure our kids have the protection they need – but this new federal law and sound state and local policies will strengthen their hands and safeguard even more children.

Common Questions & Answers

Does the passage of this law mean that schools will now be required to have “stock” epinephrine?
No. The School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act only provides an incentive to states that require their schools to provide stock epinephrine. It is up to the individual states to determine if they require or simply allow their schools to stock epinephrine. Only states that require it will be eligible for the federal incentive.

What is the incentive?
States that require their schools to stock epinephrine will be given a preference in the eligibility for asthma education grants. These grants were funded at about $22 million nationally in 2013.

How many states require their schools have stock epinephrine?
Currently, there are 30 states that have laws or guidelines that allow schools to stock epinephrine. But only four of these – Maryland, Nebraska, Nevada and Virginia – require their schools to have stock epinephrine. The other 26 are permissive, allowing or authorizing local school districts to acquire and stock epinephrine.

Couldn’t the federal government just require that all states have stock epinephrine?
Schools are generally governed at the state and local level, and “unfunded mandates” by the federal government are unlikely to win much support in Congress. The strategy of this Act is to provide an incentive to states by providing additional federal funding.

Does the bill provide for incentives for training?
In order to be eligible for the federal incentive, states have to require their schools to stock epinephrine and authorize trained personnel to administer it.

Is there liability protection for school personnel who might administer the stock epinephrine in an emergency?
Liability law is most often governed at the state and local level.  Accordingly, the Act requires that the state Attorney General certify that there are sufficient liability protections for school personnel in those circumstances.

What is the next step in making sure that schools have stock epinephrine?
For those 20 states that currently do not have any stock epinephrine law on their books, the federal Act offers a powerful incentive to pass their own legislation.

For those 26 states that “allow” for the stocking of epinephrine – but don’t require it – it offers an incentive to revisit the question and give parents, children and school personnel the reassurance of safety. In the meantime, school districts and authorities in those states should take advantage of their state authorization to adopt policies to acquire, stock and train appropriate school personnel on epinephrine.

If stock epinephrine is allowed in my state, what are the next steps?

Since most state statutes authorizing stock epinephrine defer to local education authorities, the policy and process of acquiring, maintaining and training is left to local school boards or individual schools. The first step for a parent or advocate would be to alert school authorities to their ability to provide this security. They may need help developing procedures, identifying a physician who can write a prescription, identifying training resources and securing the epinephrine auto-injectors, which can currently be secured free in the first year through the EpiPen4Schools program.

How do I get a physician to write the prescription?
Each state has its own policy guidance for allowing physicians to write a script for a non-designated epinephrine prescription. The schools’ authorities should be familiar with that provision and the guidance it provides. Allergists who can write a prescription can be found through the American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology – Find An Allergist service.

New Study: Asthma Medication May Facilitate Peanut Oral Immunotherapy

In numerous studies, oral immunotherapy (OIT) has successfully desensitized a significant number of individuals with food allergies, with most able to ingest more of the food protein than prior to treatment. However, the desensitization process can take months, and patients can experience allergic reactions. Led by Drs. Lynda C. Schneider and Andrew Mac Ginnittie, researchers at Boston Children’s Hospital/Harvard Medical School conducted a pilot study to determine whether combining OIT with omalizumab (Xolair®), an asthma medication, might speed up the desensitization process and reduce the number and severity of allergic reactions during treatment. The study evaluated this treatment regimen in 13 children with peanut allergy who were at high risk for severe reactions.

This study, which was co-funded by FARE and featured in the December 2013 issue of the Journal of Allergy & Clinical Immunology, had encouraging results. Before treatment, all 13 children failed an oral food challenge, during which they were fed peanut flour in doses of 100mg or less. Within a median period of eight weeks of combination therapy, 12 of the children were able to reach the maintenance dose, 4000mg of peanut flour per day. They then stopped taking omalizumab and continued on the maintenance dose. A final oral food challenge showed that all 12 were able to tolerate 8,000mg of peanut flour, the equivalent of 20 peanuts. During the maintenance phase, most patients had no reactions or only mild reactions, but three required treatment with epinephrine. The researchers believe that longer treatment with omalizumab might reduce the number of reactions.

These results are promising, but larger studies that include a comparison group not treated with Xolair® must be conducted to determine the effectiveness and safety of this approach.  A randomized trial of milk OIT/Xolair® with 56 participants, performed at Mount Sinai (NY, NY), Johns Hopkins (Baltimore, MD) and Stanford University (Stanford, CA) is near completion.  Additionally,  FARE recently approved funding for a new clinical trial, the PRROTECT study (“Peanut Reactivity Reduced by Oral Tolerance in an anti-IgE Clinical Trial”), which is recruiting 36 patients at four sites – Boston Children’s/Harvard, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia/University of Pennsylvania, Stanford University (Stanford, CA), and Lurie Children’s Hospital/Northwestern University (Chicago). For more information, please visit this link on

Emotional Health for Parents of Children with Food Allergies

Herbert_Linda_02102013_12smBy: Linda Herbert, clinical psychologist in the Department of Allergy and Immunology at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

If you’re reading this newsletter, you probably already know that parenting a child with a food allergy can be stressful! Daily management is time-intensive and you may experience a mix of emotions, such as sadness, worry, confusion, uncertainty, frustration, anger and anxiety.

The first thing to remember is that these are all very normal reactions to food allergies and you are not the only parent to experience them! Research shows that parents of children with food allergy sometimes experience elevated stress, anxiety and worry, and sometimes report lower quality of life as a result of food allergies.

It’s also normal to go through periods of time when you experience these emotions in different amounts. For example, transitions to new schools or new play groups, developmental changes – such as increased adolescent independence – and reading about a scary food allergy-related event in the news can be particularly stressful. But you may also have times when you feel okay. This is also normal!

The second thing to remember is that learning and practicing ways to improve your ability to cope with stressful food-allergy related situations will not only help reduce your stress and anxiety, but your child’s too! Modeling positive coping strategies will have a positive impact on your family. Below are a
few strategies to bear in mind:

1. Use deep breathing throughout the day to calm yourself during stressful situations. You can do this any time and any place because it’s just breathing! Some parents find it helpful to do this every morning before starting their day and every evening before bed.

How to do this: Make yourself aware of your body. Check for tension; begin with your feet and move upward to your head, allowing a comfortable wave of relaxation to wash away any tension. Pay attention to your breath as it enters and leaves your body. Take a deep breath. Inhale slowly through your nose. Notice your lungs and abdomen expanding. Hold it for a moment, then exhale even more slowly through your mouth, letting your body relax. Repeat this process for 2-3 minutes until you feel the tension leaving your body.

2. Use problem solving techniques to manage situations that you can control. Learning ways to improve your problem solving ability will help you solve your problems instead of worrying about them.

How to do this: Use a problem solving technique to anticipate and address situations early. First, IDENTIFY all aspects the problem. Second, DEFINE each aspect of the problem, including the perspectives and goals for everyone involved. Third, EXPLORE all possible solutions—even ones you don’t think will work! Fourth, ACT on the solution. And fifth, LOOK BACK and reflect on the results. Try another solution if needed.

3. Acknowledge that sometimes you can’t change the situation, but you CAN change how you react to it. We all respond to situations with automatic thoughts, behaviors, and consequences. When we’re stressed, most of these thoughts are negative. Changing negative thoughts into positive thoughts will reduce your stress and improve the situation.

How to do this: Identify negative thoughts, such as, “I can’t control my child’s food allergies,” and change them to positive thoughts, such as, “I know how to explain food allergies to my child’s teacher and other parents. I’m a good parent and food allergy manager!” The hardest part of changing your thinking is identifying negative thoughts, so write down negative thoughts and then write a positive thought next to it. Repeat this positive thought to yourself as needed.

4. Expand your network of support. It is important to recognize that it takes a team to manage food allergies and keep your child on track developmentally.

How to do this: Think about all of the people who contribute to your child’s growth and development. Is there something missing from your team? Is there a type of help that you are not getting? In what ways would you like the level of support on your team to be different? Think about the answers to all these questions and start to identify people who can help you.

5. Take time for yourself! Parenting a child with food allergies is only one of the roles that you have, so it is important to acknowledge your other roles, such as spouse, friend, employee, sibling, etc.

How to do this: It’s very important to try to find something you like to do that you can work into your regular routine that encourages a healthy lifestyle for you and your child. Identify things that you can do. Examples include exercise, reading a book, talking on the phone with a friend, taking a bubble bath, playing a musical instrument, etc. Schedule at least one of these activities a week. And remember that taking time for yourself makes YOU healthier, which makes you better able to care for your child!

This article was originally published in the Fall 2013 issue of FARE’s Food Allergy News. Read more of the newsletter here.

A Letter from Santa to Your Child with Food Allergy

We all know that Santa Claus loves when kids leave him milk and cookies on Christmas Eve. Santa knows all about food allergies though and wants your kids to help him spread some cheer!

You can download and personalize this letter from Santa to help get your kids in the kitchen and involve them in making some allergy-friendly holiday treats, all in an effort to help Santa’s elves.

Download and customize the letter.


Thinking Outside the Gingerbread Box

By: Gina Clowes, Director of Education, FARE

In our family, we don’t have a ton of traditions. Although I like things orderly, I was never one to insist on things being done the same way year after year.

One of the silver linings of this mindset is that I can think outside of the box pretty easily, which came in handy when my son Daniel came along with multiple food allergies. During the holiday season, delectable gingerbread houses seemed to pop up everywhere,  and with allergies to seven of the top eight allergens, 90% of the ingredients weren’t safe for him.

I wanted a decoration that my son could help build, but also one that would not pose a danger if he decided to sneak a piece during the holiday festivities (something that was guaranteed to happen).

As I perused the baking aisle, the flour, buttery frostings, nuts, coconut, marzipan, puddings, cookies, and piecrusts were all off limits.

So I switched my focus to what he could have and as I did, the sugar cubes caught my eye. I knew that we would build an igloo and we started that night! Daniel and I had a blast wedging each little sugar cube in place over the frosted bowl and placing the little gummy pine trees in place. It was adorable and my son was really proud of our creation. I hope you enjoy it too!


Icy Igloo!

An allergy-friendly alternative to a gingerbread house.

This igloo is an adorable alternative to the traditional gingerbread house. And the kids can help make it!

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Cake board (purchase from a party supply or craft store)
  • A bowl (ours was 6 inches wide and 5 inches deep)
  • Safe white icing (about 2 cups)
  • One box of sugar cubes
  • One ice cream cone
  • Pearl sugar (or white snowflake sprinkles)
  • Spearmint leaves
  • 4 large white gumballs
  • Fruit roll-ups or taffy
  • Safe sprinkles and jimmies
  • Gummi penguins

First, put a few tablespoons of icing in the center of the cake board. Spread it around a little wider than the bowl. Turn the bowl upside down into the icing so that it is secured onto the cake plate.

Frost the bowl generously with about a cup of icing. Beginning at the bottom, place the sugar cubes all around, going row by row until you reach the top.

Using a serrated knife, gently cut the narrow end off of the ice cream cone, and then cut that in half, vertically. The remaining shape should be like a “C” and you may discard the rest of the cone. Place a tablespoon of icing on the cake board, in front of the igloo, and place the piece of cone, open side down, to form the entrance of the igloo. Place a piece of blue taffy or fruit-roll up inside the entrance. Frost and cover with sugar cubes. (You can also use an empty paper towel holder for the entrance.)

Spread the remaining icing in the area around the igloo. Decorate with gumball snowmen, penguins, or other safe decorations. Sprinkle everything with the pearl sugar, pressing it into the icing that surrounds the igloo. And it’s done!