Food Allergy Friendly Baseball Games 2014

baseball-gameSpring is here, and so is baseball season. We are encouraged by the number of baseball teams that are actively engaging members of the food allergy community by hosting special “peanut-sensitive” or “peanut-aware” games.

Follow the links for more information about how to purchase tickets and the accommodations available at specific games. We will be updating it with new events as we learn of them.

All season: Florence Freedom (UC Health Stadium, Florence, KY)

April

April 12: Cleveland Indians at Chicago White Sox (U.S. Cellular Field)

April 13: Miami Marlins at Philadelphia Phillies (Citizen’s Bank Park)

April 13: Tampa Bay Rays at Cincinatti Reds (Great American Ball Park)

April 18: Philadelphia Phillies at Colorado Rockies (Coors Field)

April 25: Chicago Cubs at Milwaukee Brewers (Miller Park)

April 25: Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at New York Yankees (Yankee Stadium) - email disabledservices@yankees.com or call: 718.579.4510 for more information

April 26: San Diego Padres at Washington Nationals (Nationals Park)

April 27: Texas Rangers at Seattle Mariners (Safeco Field)

April 27: Boston Red Sox at Toronto Blue Jays (Rogers Centre)

April 27: Miami Marlins at New York Mets (Citi Field)

May

May 4: Toronto Blue Jays at New York Yankees (Yankee Stadium) - email disabledservices@yankees.com or call: 718.579.4510 for more information

May 11: Colorado Rockies at Cincinnati Reds (Great American Ball Park)

May 18: New York Mets at Washington Nationals (Nationals Park)

May 21: Mobile Baybears at Tennessee Smokies (Smokies Stadium)

May 22: Cleveland Indians at Baltimore Orioles (Oriole Park)

May 25: Colorado Rockies at Atlanta Braves (Turner Field)

May 25: Oakland A’s at Toronto Blue Jays (Rogers Centre)

May 25: Texas Rangers at Detroit Tigers (Comerica Park)

May 28: Houston Astros at Kansas City Royals (Kauffman Stadium)

May 30: Chicago Cubs at Milwaukee Brewers (Miller Park)

May 30: New  York Mets at Philadelphia Phillies (Citizen’s Bank Park)

June

June 1: Delmarva Shorebirds at Lakewood BlueClaws (FirstEnergy Stadium)

June 6: Oakland A’s at Baltimore Orioles (Oriole Park)

June 11: Gwinnett Braves at Louisville Bats (Louisville Slugger Field)

June 13: Cincinnati Reds at Milwaukee Brewers (Miller Park)

June 15: Vermont Lake Monsters at Lowell Spinners (Lelacheur Park)

June 15: Wisconsin Woodchucks at Madison Mallards (Warner Park)

June 20: Long Island Ducks at Camden Riversharks (Campbell’s Field)

June 20: South Bend Silver Hawks at Lake County Captains (Classic Park)

June 21: Atlanta Braves at Washington Nationals (Nationals Park)

June 22: Philadelphia Phillies at Seattle Mariners (Safeco Field)

June 22: Tri-City ValleyCats at Lowell Spinners (Lelacheur Park)

June 23: Chicago Cubs at Baltimore Orioles (Oriole Park)

June 23: San Diego Padres at San Francisco Giants (AT&T Park)

June 24: Mississippi Braves at Birmingham Barons (Regions Field)

June 28: Cleveland Indians at Seattle Mariners (Safeco Field)

June 29: Chicago White Sox at Toronto Blue Jays (Rogers Centre)

July

July 1: Washington Nationals at Atlanta Braves (Turner Field)

July 6: Baltimore Orioles at Boston Red Sox (Fenway Park)

July 17: New Britain Rock Cats at Reading Fightins (First Energy Stadium)

July 19: Milwaukee Brewers at Washington Nationals (Nationals Park)

July 19: Houston Astros at Chicago White Sox (U.S. Cellular Field)

July 20: New York Mets at San Diego Padres (Petco Park)

July 20: Kansas City Royals at Boston Red Sox (Fenway Park)

July 20: Texas Rangers at Toronto Blue Jays (Rogers Centre)

July 21: Cincinnati Reds at Milwaukee Brewers (Miller Park)

July 22: New York Mets at Seattle Mariners (Safeco Field)

July 22: Tampa Bay Rays at St. Louis Cardinals (Busch Stadium)

July 27: Brooklyn Cyclones at Lowell Spinners (Lelacheur Park)

July 27: Portland Seadogs at New Britain Rockcats (New Britain Stadium)

July 29: Los Angeles Dodgers at Baltimore Orioles (Oriole Park)

July 29: Brooklyn Cyclones at Lowell Spinners (Lelacheur Park)

July 30: Pittsburgh Pirates at San Francisco Giants (AT&T Park)

August 

August 3: Milwaukee Brewers at St. Louis Cardinals (BuschStadium)

August 8: St. Louis Cardinals at Baltimore Orioles (Oriole Park)

August 8: Chicago White Sox at Seattle Mariners (Safeco Field)

August 9: Sioux City at St. Paul Saints 

August 10: Williamsport Crosscutters at Lowell Spinners (Lelacheur Park)

August 15: Indianapolis Indians at Louisville Bats (Louisville Slugger Field)

August 17: Pittsburgh Pirates at Washington Nationals (Nationals Park)

August 19: Toronto Blue Jays at Milwaukee Brewers (Miller Park)

August 24: Tampa Bay Rays at Toronto Blue Jays (Rogers Centre)

August 25: Tampa Bay Rays at Baltimore Orioles (Oriole Park)

August 25: Washington Nationals at Philadelphia Phillies (Citizen’s Bank Park)

August 31: Miami Marlins at Atlanta Braves (Turner Field)

September

September 13: Miami Marlins at Philadelphia Phillies (Citizen’s Bank Park)

September 14: Tampa Bay Rays at Toronto Blue Jays (Rogers Centre)

September 16: Chicago Cubs at Milwaukee Brewers (Miller Park)

Have you heard about other games in your area? Post your comments below.

Giving Back: FARE Awards More Than $135,000 in Support to 60 Communities Nationwide

By John Lehr, CEO of FARE

As the nation’s leading organization dedicated to food allergy and anaphylaxis, building education and understanding throughout the country is a critical component of FARE’s mission.

Working with local leaders is a vital part of how we advance our shared cause. And that’s why we are so proud to announce that we are awarding more than $135,000 in grant support to 60 communities across the country to advance food allergy education, advocacy and awareness efforts as part of FARE’s 2014 Community Outreach Grants program. This is the largest grant pool every awarded in a single year, and is more than double the amount awarded last year.

With these grants, we are helping local food allergy leaders – support group leaders and FARE Walk for Food Allergy chairs – put on programs that will result in a better understanding of food allergies within their local communities. Food allergy is a growing problem — and it will take each and every one of us across the country to raise awareness, advocate and educate in order to keep everyone safe and included.

The projects that were selected to receive grants this year underwent a peer-reviewed application process. Grant applications were reviewed by a selection committee and awarded based on community need, scope, anticipated impact, achievability of project objectives, cost efficiency and geographic diversity.

In 30 states across the country, dedicated volunteers will be using grants from FARE to carry out a wide spectrum of innovative projects throughout 2014. Congratulations to the food allergy support group leaders and FARE Walk for Food Allergy chairs who worked so hard to develop programs that will make an impact in their communities. We look forward to hearing about your successes, and to continuing to expand the FARE Community Outreach Grants Program in the coming years.

The projects are listed below by region:

Midwest

  • Freeze Pops to Say FAREwell to Food Allergies
    FARE Walk Chicago (Chicago Metro Area, IL)
  • Michiana Food Allergy Anaphylaxis Support
    Michiana Food Allergy Anaphylaxis Support (South Bend/Lakeville, IN)
  • Back to School with Food Allergies Education for Schools
    Tri State Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Support Group (Serving Southern IL, IN, and KY)
  • Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Michigan Conference
    Circle of Food Allergic Families (COFAF) Support Group Leader (Metro Detroit, MI)
  • Food Free Easter Egg Hunt
    No Nuts Moms Group of Michigan (Auburn Hills, MI)
  • 504 Plans – 3 Part Series of Presentations
    FACES of Michigan (Macomb County, MI)
  • Booth Outreach Program
    Anaphylaxis & Food Allergy Association of Minnesota (Statewide, MN)
  • Food Allergy Resource Fair
    Food Allergy Support Group of Minnesota (Statewide, MN)
  • Halloween/Fall Event, St. Louis County Health & Human Services Conference, Printed Materials & Website Support
    Northland Food Allergy Support Group (Duluth, MN)
  • Halloween Event, Winter Event, and Educational Materials
    West Metro Food Allergy Connection (Howard Lake, MN)
  • Share the Knowledge Summit
    Food Allergy Focus (Cleveland, OH)
  • Understanding Physical, Social, and Emotional Aspects of Kids Living with Food Allergies – Creating a Plan to Keep Them Safe & Included
    FARE Walk Milwaukee (Milwaukee, WI)
  • Wisconsin Community Growth Initiative
    Food Allergy Association of Wisconsin - SE WI Chapter (Southeast WI)
  • Resource Fair & Presentations
    Food Allergy Association of Wisconsin (Madison, WI)
  • School Nurse Advocacy Effort
    Fox Valley Food Allergy Support Group (Fox Valley Area, WI)
  • FARE Conference Scholarship
    FARE Walk Detroit (Detroit, MI)

Northeast

  • Food Allergy Awareness Week Programming, Guest Speaker Series, Resource Printing & Web Development
    Food Allergy Education Network (Statewide, CT)
  • Program on Eosinophilic Esophagitis in the Spectrum of Food Allergy
    FARE Walk Boston (Boston, MA)
  • Food Allergy Expo and Conference
    Food Allergy & Asthma Support Group of North Jersey (Northern NJ)
  • Coping with Transitions: Sessions for Parents & Children with Food Allergies
    FARE Walk Westchester (Westchester County, NY)
  • Support Group Website Build
    FoodAllergyNY (Tarrytown, NY)
  • Educational Outreach for Schools, Families, & Children with Food Allergies
    Capital District Food Allergy Support Group (Albany, NY)
  • Community Awareness Initiative for Food Allergies and Educational Info Distribution
    FARE Walk Buffalo/Western NY (Buffalo, NY)
  • Port Washington Nurse Education Scholarship
    Food Allergy Support and Education (Nassau County, NY)
  • FACTS Forum on Food Allergy in Schools: Keeping Our Children Safe
    Food Allergies: Coping, Teaching, Supporting (FACTS) (Rochester NY)
  • Community Stewardship Materials
    Greater Buffalo Food Allergy Alliance (Buffalo, NY)
  • Materials for Local Baseball Game Peanut-free Section and School Health Fair
    Food Allergy Families of Rockland (Rockland County, NY)
  • Feel Good Forum and Support Group Operations
    FEAST of the Main Line (Philadelphia, PA)
  • PHACT Awareness and Operations
    Parents Having Allergic Children Team (PHACT) (Chester County, PA)
  • Support Group Operations
    Food Allergy Support Group of Tidewater (FASGOT) (Hampton Roads/Tidewater, VA)
  • Education Materials for Loudoun County School District and Support Group Operations
    Loudoun Allergy Network (Loudoun County, VA)
  • School Presentation Packs for Food Allergy Awareness
    Food Allergy Support Group of Northern VA (Fairfax, VA)
  • Food Allergy Awareness Week Campaign and Support Group Activities/Materials
    FARE Walk Wheeling/Ohio Valley Kids with Food Allergies (Wheeling/Moundsville, WV)

Northeast/Southeast

  • Southeastern VA and Northeast NC Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Community Enrichment
    FARE Walk Virginia Beach/Food Allergy Association of Virginia Beach (Southern VA/Northern NC)

Southeast

  • Educational Symposium/Walk Kickoff and Support Group Development
    FARE Walk Birmingham (Birmingham, AL)
  • St. Johns/Jacksonville Nurse Training, Support Group Maintenance, and Lending Library Materials
    FARE Walk Jacksonville/Food Allergy Families of St. Johns (Jacksonville/St. Johns, FL)
  • Educational Symposium/Walk Kickoff/Ask the Expert Panel
    FARE Walk Tampa (Tampa, FL)
  • Educational Symposium/Walk Kickoff/Ask the Expert Panel
    FARE Walk Orlando (Orlando, FL)
  • Food Friendly Halloween Party
    No Nuts Moms Group Palm Beach County (Palm Beach County, FL)
  • Atlanta Food Allergy Outreach/Atlanta Walk
    FARE Walk Atlanta (Atlanta, GA)
  • Food Allergy Treatment Roundtable and Chefs Make Vacations Easy
    FARE Walk Raleigh/NC FACES (Raleigh, NC)
  • EMT/First Responder Anaphylaxis Training
    PAK Charlotte (Charlotte, NC)
  • Practice of Presence Workshop and Support Group Operations
    Food Allergy Families of the Triad (Triad, NC)
  • Education and Outreach to Promote FARE Walk
    FARE Walk Simpsonville/SAFE of Greenville (Greenville, SC)
  • Walk Symposium and Support Group Revitalization
    FARE Walk Nashville (Nashville, TN)
  • Walk Seminar, Support Group Maintenance, and Support Group Lending Library
    FARE Walk Memphis (Memphis, TN)
  • Project Teal
    Food Allergy Community of East Tennessee (FACET) (Knoxville, TN)

Southwest

  • Food Allergy Community Awareness and Education
    SAFE Boulder County (Boulder County, CO)
  • Educate Schools in Central Oklahoma
    Food Allergy Awareness Coalition (Central OK)
  • 2014 Austin Families with Food Allergies Retreat, ER and Urgent Care Education
    Austin Families with Food Allergies (Austin, TX)
  • Kyle Dine Concert and Awareness Materials
    San Antonio Food Allergy Support Team (San Antonio, TX)
  • Kyle Dine Concert and Awareness Materials
    FARE Walk Phoenix (Phoenix, AZ)

West

  • Kyle Dine Awareness Concerts, School/School Nurse Education, Educational Materials, and Support Group Operations
    San Francisco Bay Area Food Allergy Network (Bay Area, CA)
  • Support Group Development, Awareness Activities, Food Allergy Free Easter Hunt
    No Nuts Moms Group LA (Los Angeles, CA)
  • Website Maintenance
    Billings Kids with Food Allergies (Statewide, MT)
  • Clark County School District CDC Guideline Implementation
    FARE Walk Las Vegas (Las Vegas, NV)
  • Educate Northern Nevada School Nurses and Principals
    AAPE Nevada (Northern NV)
  • Local Adoption of Statewide Food Allergy Management Guidelines in Oregon K-12 Schools
    Oregon Food Allergy Network (OFAN) (Statewide, OR)
  • Utah Food Allergy Easter Egg Hunt, Conference, Support Group Education, Kids Summer Camp, Trunk-or-Treat, Kyle Dine Concert
    FARE Walk Utah/Utah Food Allergy Network (UFAN) (Statewide, UT)
  • Regional Food Allergy Conference, Kyle Dine Concerts, Field Guides to Newly Diagnosed, and Restaurant Education Scholarship for Small Businesses
    Washington FEAST (Seattle, WA)

What’s so funny about anaphylaxis?

By Veronica LaFemina, Vice President of Communications at Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE)

Growing up in a food allergy family, I lived in a world where people barely knew what a food allergy was, let alone that it could be life-threatening. It wasn’t always easy to explain to my friends that they couldn’t bring candy or snacks with peanuts or tree nuts over to my house, but this rule was always met with curiosity and compliance – not eye-rolling or jokes.

Today, as someone whose work is dedicated to increasing awareness of food allergy as a serious, potentially life-threatening and growing public health issue, I know there is still much work to be done, but I am heartened by the significant progress that’s been made in ensuring people with food allergies are safe and included. From advances in research and improved laws and regulations at the federal and state levels to national education initiatives, grassroots advocacy movements and nationwide news coverage – all of these efforts have contributed to greater awareness, empathy and action in support of the food allergy community.

One area that’s lagging behind, though, is the portrayal of food allergies in movies and television. These mediums are so powerful in tackling tough issues, shaping our cultural conversations, and shedding light on societal trends in ways that make us think, discuss, question and laugh.

But when it comes to food allergies, many movies and television shows are still living in the Dark Ages. In the last week alone, at least three primetime television shows included scenes that made light of food allergies.

All too often, food allergies are played for a cheap laugh – they’re the topic of a prank or the target of a joke. Reactions are portrayed unrealistically and in such a way that could cost characters their lives, and characters who don’t have food allergies are disproportionately depicted as people who are strangely excited at the possibility of sending someone to the hospital. These portrayals are not only untrue and hurtful – they are dangerous.

Some will say that the mere presence of food allergies and anaphylaxis in popular culture is a sign that the disease is gaining ground in the national consciousness. It is, and that is important. It’s also true that there are many different ways to broach a topic and bring attention to it, including using humor appropriately to educate and raise awareness.

But as a society, we can do better. And as a community, we can help by pointing people in the right direction.

In that spirit, for the producers and writers of movies and television shows who are interested in including food allergies in their story lines, I’d encourage you to keep the following in mind:

  1. Food allergies can be life-threatening. The most insidious fact about food allergy is that there is no way to know how severe a reaction will be until it happens – which means that every reaction has the potential to lead to a hospital visit, or worse. Today, without a cure or preventive treatments that can reduce the risk of life-threatening reactions, avoiding the food completely is critical (and much harder than it sounds). A person with a diagnosed food allergy should also be prepared for a severe reaction (anaphylaxis). That means having two epinephrine auto-injectors with them at all times, and knowing how and when to use them (for young children, it’s important for a responsible adult to carry and know how to use the auto-injector). When a severe reaction does occur, the person must be treated immediately with an epinephrine auto-injector and then 911 should be called to transport them to the hospital for further treatment and observation for at least four hours to ensure the symptoms don’t return.A recent episode of a network television sitcom depicted a character self-injecting epinephrine and then remaining at her desk while co-workers laughed about the incident – in the real world, this scene could have ended in tragedy. To treat it so lightly is irresponsible and could be dangerous. If you’re going to show a reaction, then show what it’s really like – not an unrealistic version that downplays the severity and potential consequences.
  1. 15 million people in the U.S. have food allergies. That’s enough people to be our fifth largest state. Since this is a common disease, it makes sense to incorporate characters with food allergies into your work. But it doesn’t make sense to play into a stale stereotype. Food allergy is an invisible disease that doesn’t discriminate based on race, geography, economic status or any other factor. It affects a diverse array of adults and children throughout the country, disproportionately affects African Americans, and is a reality for professional athletes, scientists, actors, musicians, and even those who live at the White House. When you determine which character will have a food allergy, it’s important to keep these facts in mind.
  1. Food allergy bullying is real and can have dire consequences. Movies and television have taken on the broad topic of bullying and explored the issue in meaningful and poignant ways. So what makes food allergy bullying different? A third of kids with food allergies have been bullied specifically because of them, and half of those kids didn’t tell their parents about it. Watching popular shows model ways in which to bully kids with food allergies is terrifying – for adults and children alike – and for what? A lame filler laugh? If exploring food allergy bullying is important to the story you are trying to tell, avoid showing exactly what happened and be sure to show the consequences the bully faced. Don’t make bullying look cool or even acceptable. You can learn more about this subject via FARE’s “It’s Not a Joke” campaign to address food allergy bullying.
  1. Approach this topic in the same way you would other life-threatening medical conditions. Humor can be excellent for softening difficult scenarios and supporting the healing process. And food allergy certainly isn’t the only disease that movies and television shows poke fun at. But when you’re writing a scene about food allergies, I’d ask you to consider this – would you make the same joke about cancer, or diabetes, or a heart attack? More often than not, the answer will be no. This isn’t about special treatment – it’s about being evaluated by the same standard.

Next Monday, March 31, the food allergy community will remember those individuals who have lost their lives to anaphylaxis, and this spring, we as a community will be promoting events like World Allergy Week and Food Allergy Awareness Week to help increase understanding of and support for our cause. Despite these tragedies and the need for greater understanding, food allergies still face skepticism in a way that other diseases rarely seem to.

We are at a critical time in the national discourse around food allergies. Movies and television shows are in a unique position to shape the cultural conversation about the disease. My hope is that they will continue to include stories about food allergy – because food allergy does touch all of us, and it needs to be better understood – and that they do so in a more realistic and empathetic way.

Veronica LaFemina is Vice President of Communications at Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE). Her father and younger sister have food allergies. You can learn more about food allergies on FARE’s website – www.foodallergy.org.   

Kosher Labeling and Food Allergies

Introduction by Rabbi Yitzchok Lerman

The first time we noticed that our daughter was allergic to milk was when she was six weeks old. My wife was heading back to work, and we added some milk-based formula that we received from the hospital to a bottle of breast milk. Within a half-hour, our daughter had hives all over her chest.

Now four years later, my daughter and her sister are allergic to a combined six foods: eggs, milk, peanuts, tree nuts, fish and sesame.

Food allergies are a big struggle for religious Jews, because most of our culture and religious practices are structured around food. We have large meals with family and friends on Saturday (Shabbat), holidays, and at almost all special ceremonies there is food served. We were recently at a baby naming ceremony, and there was a large spread of cakes containing milk and various nuts! Of course my children wanted it, and it’s not always easy to bring our own cookies from home that can compete with the fancy cakes and cookies that are being served.

Before we go to an event, we sit our older daughter down (she’s three years old) and tell her that before she eats anything she should ask us, because nuts and milk give her a big boo boo. We are constantly on alert, and my wife and I each take one child that we will keep an eye on. As I’m sure many of you have experienced, and can imagine, it can be a bit difficult to socialize and enjoy yourself.

We ALWAYS carry an epinephrine auto-injector and anti-histamine with us wherever we go, because even the minutest cross-contact can cause a reaction (as we have unfortunately experienced).

As Orthodox Jews we keep a special diet called “kosher.” My wife and I were surprised to realize that our kosher diet actually HELPS us keep our daughters safe. But you don’t have to be Jewish to enjoy these benefits. Knowing how kosher certification works can change the way you shop for food.

FARE, in consultation with the International Kosher Council, has compiled some tips for how to decipher kosher labels:

While kosher labeling can be a helpful first indicator that a food may contain your allergens, it is important to note that kosher regulations are different than the labeling regulations enforced by the FDA and USDA. By kosher standards, if a product contains less than 1/60th of the ingredient that is not kosher, it still meets the criteria for the kosher label. Kosher labeling was created as a way for people of the Jewish faith to stick to a kosher diet, not for those with food allergies. So, while kosher products must adhere to strict standards, it is always important to read every label thoroughly and call manufacturers to ask questions if you are unsure whether a product is safe for you.

In the early 1920s, the Orthodox Union of Jewish Congregations in America formed an organization that would monitor products to ensure that they were kosher and this organization is now the largest certifying agent for kosher products. Ever wonder what that “U” in a circle symbol is on your products? It is the organization’s primary kosher symbol (pictured above).

There are hundreds of kosher certifying organizations and symbols, the vast majority are reliable and operate on the same standards. The way these organizations work is that they have access to a list of all the ingredients used to ensure that they are Kosher. Then throughout the year they have thousands of supervisors who make unannounced checks at many companies and factories around the world to ensure that the kosher standards are upheld.

One of the many laws of keeping kosher is that it is forbidden to eat milk and meat products together. They cannot be manufactured together, cooked together, served together or eaten together. Kosher symbols are designed to help consumers find products that abide by this law, and can be helpful to understand if you have a milk or meat allergy.

The OU symbols work as follows:

  • If there is only a “U” inside of a circle (”OU”), then the product meets kosher standards for being considered milk free and meat free. By kosher standards, you must have a 24 hour wait-period as well as adhere to certain cleaning protocols before you can be certified as being milk-free and meat-free and earn this certification. In kosher language, products labeled “OU” are called “Pareve” or “Parve.”
  •           An important note on “OU” labeling is that in order for equipment to be considered “contaminated” with milk or meat, the product needs to have been heated to a certain temperature. This can lead to products being labeled “OU” even if they have been produced on equipment that was previously used with milk or meat ingredients, if they were produced at a cold temperature. For example, if warm chocolate that contains milk was poured into a mold but did not get heated to a high enough temperature, then a product with no milk could be used afterward in the same mold and still be given the “OU” label. For this reason, it is important to always check the advisory label and call the manufacturer with any questions.
  • If a product has a “OUD,”  label that means that it contains milk ingredients or is processed on equipment with milk, and is also kosher. This classification can be confusing, since this symbol can be found on products that one would assume are free of milk. For example, soy milk may be processed on the same lines as a product containing milk after the lines are thoroughly cleaned. While the soy milk may be safe for those with milk allergies to drink, unless the manufacturer waits for 24 hours before producing the soy milk, they cannot use the OU symbol and must use OUD instead.
  • The “OUM” symbol means that it contains meat ingredients or is processed on equipment with meat, but it is also kosher. Although allergies to meat are rare, this symbol may help those who are meat allergic identify which products to avoid.
  • For those with fish allergies, the “OUF” symbol indicates that the product has fish ingredients. However, just because the product is labeled “OU” does not mean that it is completely free of fish. As mentioned above, as long as the product contains less than 1/60th of fish, it may be labeled as “OU”.
  • For those with shellfish allergies, Kosher products may not contain any shellfish. So any product that has a kosher label on it is most likely safe.

Now that we have a better understanding of kosher labels, where do food allergies come in? Well, think of it this way; if a product is meat, or if you walk into a kosher meat restaurant, you can be fairly confident that the products are free of milk. If a “kosher meal” is offered it is very unlikely that there are traces of milk in your meat dinner (and vice versa). However, you should always do your due diligence to ensure that your meal or a product you are consuming is free of milk by checking with the restaurant or manufacturer.

Today, one-third to one-half of the foods for sale in the typical American supermarket are kosher. I’m sure if you look into your pantry, you will find that at least 60% of your products at home are kosher certified. So next time you go shopping or traveling, keep an eye out for those kosher symbols to help you quickly identify products that may be safe for you or your family.

Rabbi Yitzchok Lerman is a Rabbi and Dayan, and currently teaches at YTTL High school in Queens, NY. Rabbi Lerman lives in Brooklyn, NY with his wife Bina and their two daughters. This information was published under the consultation of the International Kosher Council.

Five Things to Know about FARE’s National Food Allergy Conference

Thinking about joining us at our first FARE National Food Allergy Conference? Here are five essential facts to know about the June 21-22 event, which will be held at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare in Rosemont, Ill., just outside of Chicago.

  1. Your conference registration may be eligible for reimbursement under your Health Care Flexible Spending Account.
  2. FARE is working with the Hyatt Regency food and beverage staff to provide allergy-friendly breakfasts and to help ensure attendees have safe options for other meals.
  3. Our conference hotel is conveniently located near O’Hare International Airport and has a free airport shuttle. Additionally, public transportation (the “L”) is across the street and there are many sightseeing options if you plan to make a long weekend out of your trip.
  4. FARE members receive a $25 discount on their conference registration. To obtain the discount code, members must log in to our website, click on “Membership,” and then go to the “Members Only” section.
  5. No matter what stage you are in life – a seasoned veteran of food allergy management or newly diagnosed – there is an educational conference track for you! Our tracks this year are organized into beginner, intermediate, advanced and teen categories.

We hope to see you there! Check out our online conference schedule and register today by visiting www.foodallergy.org/conference!

Advocacy Update: Momentum for the Food Allergy Agenda Builds

Legislative sessions are underway in Washington, D.C. and in state capitals across the country. That means there are many opportunities for food allergy advocates to push legislators on policies that will improve research, access and safety.

In Washington, D.C.
After several years of prodding by the food allergy community, Congress passed the School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act last November, providing an incentive for states to require the availability of stock epinephrine in their schools. That success raised the sensitivity of lawmakers to the needs of families struggling with food allergies and improves the environment for progress on other fronts.

Building on that success, FARE is focusing on improved funding for food allergy research at the National Institutes of Health and other federal facilities, as well as funding to support the purchase of epinephrine and training programs in the nation’s schools. FARE’s federal agenda also includes initiatives to address surveillance of food allergies (i.e., comprehensive surveys to understand how many people are affected by the disease) by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and greater clarity in labeling requirements by the Food & Drug Administration.

In States
Last year 18 states passed legislation addressing stock epinephrine in schools, and that momentum has continued in 2014; new states are providing for stock epinephrine in schools on an almost weekly basis.

The precedent established in the K-12 system is now being seen in higher education as well, with New Jersey becoming the first state in the nation to require its colleges and universities to establish policies to stock and train in the administration of epinephrine on their campuses. Similar legislation has also been signed into law in Indiana, and FARE is staging campaigns in additional states.

The Massachusetts restaurant food allergy awareness law has long been admired by members of the food allergy community and this year FARE is pursuing similar legislation in several states. Taking as its foundation the restaurant training program developed jointly by the National Restaurant Association and FARE, the initiative would require that restaurant staff with food allergy training be available during all hours of operation. Menus would have to advise customers to communicate their allergy and posters in the restaurant would educate staff about the severity of food allergies. Bills are currently pending in other states, and FARE is providing support to advocates pursuing the legislation.

The safety of those with food allergies has increasingly become a public health concern at the state level as well. Bills are being introduced around the country that would make epinephrine, and the training in its administration, widely available in public places, including day care centers, restaurants, theaters, health clubs, and sports arenas, among others. The most important component of these bills is broad liability protection for establishments and “Good Samaritans” using epinephrine on someone they believe is suffering from anaphylaxis.

Your Role
The success of these and other efforts is directly dependent on the involvement of food allergy advocates. In 2014, FARE will continue to speak out for the community and offer opportunities for advocates to make their voices heard. If you haven’t already, please join the FARE Advocates Network by visiting
www.foodallergyadvocacy.org!

This article was originally published in the Winter 2014 issue of FARE’s Food Allergy News. Read more of the newsletter here.

FARE Supports Research Community at AAAAI’s 2014 Annual Meeting

For the food allergy research community, the annual meeting of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI) is one of the most important events of the year. FARE maintained a high profile at this year’s meeting, which was held in San Diego from February 27-March 4.  FARE’s Medical and Research Advisory Boards met, and FARE representatives offered information about our programs at our booth in the exhibit hall. Most importantly, FARE-funded researchers, along with our medical advisors, gave presentations and led informative sessions.

Less than 10 years ago, few sessions focused on food allergy. This year’s meeting showed how far the field has come, with a wide range of sessions and presentations devoted to potential new therapies, basic science, managing food allergies in schools and restaurants, and psychosocial issues.

Of particular note, researchers presented data on potential treatments for food allergy, with a strong focus on oral immunotherapy (OIT).  Although OIT is one of the most promising treatments in development, researchers still have many questions, including:  What is the optimal dosage?  How can we prevent patients on OIT from experiencing serious reactions?  Can OIT result in tolerance – long-lasting immunological changes that will protect patients even after they stop the treatment? Several new studies are bringing us closer to finding the answers. (It is important to note that the results discussed here are preliminary, and have not yet been published in peer-reviewed scientific journals.)

  • Researchers at the University of Virginia reported on a clinical trial of patients who had been desensitized to peanut after a course of OIT.  By eating a daily maintenance dose of one or two peanuts, some participants were able to achieve sustained unresponsiveness – meaning that they were able to eat peanut without having an allergic reaction.
  • On the other hand, prolonged avoidance of peanuts after completing OIT may lead to a reversal of the beneficial effects of the treatment, according to a study conducted by investigators at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
  • In a late-breaking abstract, researchers reported that combining OIT with omalizumab (Xolair®), an asthma medication, significantly reduced dosing-related side effects and the time needed to reach the maintenance dose in patients with milk allergy. FARE and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) are funding this multi-center study – the first randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial to demonstrate the effects of this combination therapy.
  • For more than a decade, FARE has provided partial funding for the development of a Chinese herbal treatment, Food Allergy Herbal Formula-2 (FAHF-2).  A Phase 2 clinical trial is currently underway to test the effectiveness and safety of FAHF-2 in treating peanut, tree nut, fish, shellfish and sesame allergies. At the AAAAI meeting, Dr. Xiu-Min Li (Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai) presented the results of a pre-clinical study, which showed that combining the Chinese herbal formula with OIT reduced adverse reactions and produced greater post-OIT protection in mice with multiple nut allergies. Further studies are needed to evaluate this combination therapy in humans.

As the world’s largest source of private funding for food allergy research, FARE is committed to partnering with AAAAI to attract the most talented investigators to the field. At a benefit held during the meeting, AAAAI announced that FARE had contributed $50,000 to help establish the Allergy, Asthma & Immunology Education and Research Organization, Inc.’s (ARTrust™) $4 million Donald Leung and JACI Editors Allergy/Immunology Research Fund. Currently, the two leading contributors to the fund are FARE and Steve & Nancy Carell. In addition, since 2008, FARE has funded the AAAAI/Food Allergy Research & Education Howard J. Gittis Memorial Fellowship/Instructor Research Awards, which aim to shape the next generation of food allergy investigators. The recipient of the 2014 Gittis Award, who will be selected by an AAAAI committee, will be announced within the coming weeks. Finally, FARE invited young researchers to a reception, where they learned about our research grant program and strategic plan.

To learn more about current food allergy research, visit www.foodallergy.org/research.

Diet Dilemmas – Safe and Nutritious Food Substitutes

By Cassandra Sova, MS, RD, CD, CNSC

Finding safe food substitutes for some food allergens may be a difficult task, and many commonly used substitutes are not nutritionally equivalent to their allergenic counterparts. This article will guide you through food substitutes for some of the most common food allergens, helping you find safe food substitutes that are nutritious and delicious.

When first using food substitutes in cooking or in baking, start by finding recipes that are already allergen-free. Try recipes from the FARE newsletter, allergen-free cookbooks or reputable allergy friendly websites.

Always remember to read labels of all ingredients used in a recipe to make sure it is allergen-free.

Once you become more comfortable cooking allergen-free, you can try adapting your family recipes. To begin easing into the process, try finding recipes that only require one substitution. This will allow you to see how each substitute changes the final product.

Substitutes for Common Allergens:

Milk
There are many milk substitutes available such as soy, rice and almond milk. Always choose “enriched” or “fortified” versions. This indicates that calcium and vitamin D have been added. These milks are not created equal. Soy milk is the most nutritious option as it provides almost as much protein, vitamin D and calcium as regular milk. Rice and almond milk are low in protein and fat, but provide comparable amounts of calcium and vitamin D.

These milk substitutes often work well for cooking and baking. Choose the safe milk substitute with the highest content of protein and fat to help make a finished product that is closer to the original. Avoid using infant formulas for cooking and baking because heating them to high temperature can destroy the nutritional quality and may have a negative effect on flavor. Replace butter with milk-free margarine.

There are several yogurt substitutes that are comparable to the milk-based versions. Read the label to ensure that the yogurt has calcium added. These yogurt substitutes vary in protein content. Soy yogurt provides a good source of protein and overall is most similar to milk-based yogurt.

More cheese substitutes are now available in the marketplace. Be cautious, as they are typically not nutritionally equivalent to milk-based cheeses. For example, most soy cheese is lower in fat than milk-based cheese. Veggie cheeses are usually low in calories, protein, fat and calcium. Although the nutrition is not comparable, the taste and texture help make delicious meals. With both milk-free yogurt and cheese, read the ingredient label very carefully to ensure there is no milk cross-contact.

Wheat
For everyday cooking, create a meal with wheat-free sides and entrées. Try loaded baked potatoes, stir-fry over rice, or quinoa stuffed peppers. There are many wheat-free grains available, such as rice, corn, millet, potato, tapioca and quinoa. Many of these grains are also made into wheat-free flours.

Wheat-free flour blends typically produce a better texture in baked products than replacing wheat with a single grain flour. Wheat-free flour blends are available in your grocery store or health food store, or you may make your own flour mixture using the following recipe:

  • ½ cup millet
  • ¼ cup potato starch
  • ¼ cup oat flour

Many wheat-free recipes rely on refined flours like white rice flour instead of whole grains. These flours are usually less nutritious than regular versions. They may be lower in iron, folic acid, other B vitamins, and fiber. Try using more nutritious flours like brown rice flour, quinoa flour or chick pea flour. Eat more fruits and vegetables for a boost of vitamins and fiber. Take a complete multivitamin/multimineral supplement if you are avoiding wheat to meet all your vitamin and mineral needs.

Eggs
Try a commercial egg replacement, or use one of the following substitutes for one egg for baked goods:

  • 1½ tablespoon water, 1½ tablespoon oil, and 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1 tablespoon water, and 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon yeast dissolved in ¼ cup warm water.

Try using tofu to replace the egg in meatloaf. Use soy milk as a binder to help
the crumbs stick to chicken tenders.

Peanuts and Tree Nuts
Mix seeds with raisins or other dried fruits. Add dry cereal or allergen-free chocolate chips to create your own trail mix. You can also use sunflower or soy nut butter as peanut butter substitutes. These products are versatile and great for making allergen free sandwiches or incorporating in all kinds of recipes from snacks to cookies to allergen-free shakes. Check out the manufacturers’ websites for recipes using their products.

Focus on Taste and Nutrition:
When choosing safe food substitutes, focus on both taste and nutrition. Read
the food label to find food products that are nutritionally similar to the foods they
are replacing. It is also important to eat a variety of foods from all food groups. Talk to your doctor or dietitian if an entire food group is eliminated because of your food allergies.

Cassandra Sova, MS, RD, CD, CNSC, is a clinical dietitian specialist in the Allergy and GI Department at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin.

This article was originally published in the Winter 2014 issue of FARE’s Food Allergy News. Read more of the newsletter here.

Q&A with Dr. Michael Young: Does Early Exposure to Nuts Lower a Child’s Allergy Risk?

Last month, we received significant feedback from the food allergy community on our blog post about a recently published study, “Prospective study of peripregnancy consumption of peanuts or tree nuts by mothers and the risk of peanut or tree nut allergy in their offspring,” which was published in JAMA Pediatrics. To help clarify some of the key takeaways from the study, we asked Dr. Michael Young, one of the study’s authors, to answer a few questions about the study’s results and what that means for individuals and families managing food allergy.

1. Briefly, can you explain the findings of this study?

The children of women who ate peanut/tree nuts 5 or more times a week while pregnant had a 70% reduced risk of developing peanut/tree nut allergies compared to the children of women who consumed nuts less than once a month while pregnant.

2. In one sentence, what’s the main take away?

If a mother eats peanut/tree nuts while pregnant, it does not cause or increase the risk of peanut/tree nut allergies in her children.

3. How do the findings compare to other studies on this topic? 

There are other studies examining the correlation of eating peanuts during pregnancy and the risk of peanut allergy in the children. Some show increased risk, others show that diet makes no difference. One of the strengths of our study is in the methodology, which minimized recall bias (meaning that the reports that mothers gave on their diets were as accurate as possible). Also, our analysis consisted of cases of clinical peanut allergy (both a positive allergy test and history of reaction to peanuts) rather than cases with only one of those components. Our study is the only study to show that higher levels of maternal nut consumption leads to a reduced risk of children with nut allergies, which is more consistent with current studies on early infant diets showing that earlier exposure to food allergens, such as peanut, milk, egg, and wheat, is associated with reduced risk of allergies to these foods.

4. We’ve heard from many women who ate nuts while pregnant and had children who were born with allergies to peanuts and/or tree nuts. Can you explain why their personal experiences differ from what you found?

While our study shows a reduction in risk of approximately 70% with increased nut consumption, it is not 100% risk reduction; there are undoubtedly other risk factors. The cause of the increased prevalence of peanut allergy is presently unknown, but likely has many factors. Further research may well reveal other risk factors that will help explain why this is happening.

5. Based on the findings of this study, what would your message be to mothers who have children with nut allergies?  

The conclusions from our data should reassure these mothers that eating nuts during their pregnancy did not cause their children to develop peanut and tree nut allergies.

6. What about to women who are wondering if they should or should not eat nuts during their next pregnancy? 

Our study did not specifically examine the diets of mothers of children with known nut allergies during subsequent pregnancies and clinical outcomes. In general, our data would indicate that eating peanuts/tree nuts during pregnancy does not cause nut allergies in children. So, a pregnant woman who wished to include nuts in her diet should feel free to do so.

Questions from FARE’s Mail Bag

Every day we receive dozens of phone calls, emails, and letters from individuals and families who have questions about food allergies. Below are answers to just a handful of these questions that we have received recently and thought others may benefit from knowing as well.

Can a person with a peanut and/or tree nut allergy eat nutmeg?

Although the word “nutmeg” contains the word “nut,” it is actually a seed, not a nut. Used as a spice in baking and many ethnic cuisines, nutmeg is safe for everyone who does not have an allergy to nutmeg itself.

Can having a blood transfusion cause an allergic reaction because of allergens in the donated blood?

Dr. Scott Sicherer addresses this question in his book “Food Allergies: A Complete Guide for Eating When Your Life Depends On It.” He says, “When blood transfusions are processed, the liquid (serum) is washed away, so even if trace food proteins had been in the blood donation, the amount left in the material that is transfused would be negligible. There have not been reports of reactions in this situation, although it may be reasonable for a donor providing a directed donation to a person with a food allergy to avoid the allergen for several hours prior to the donation. There is one report of a platelet donation causing a reaction in a child with a peanut allergy (platelets are the blood-clotting component transfused without being separated from the serum). The report is not completely verified, but there may be risk.”

If a product is labeled “Kosher Pareve,” is it safe for someone with a milk allergy?

Kosher pareve is a kosher classification for a food that contains neither dairy nor meat, generally speaking. Kosher classifications do not address cross-contact, however, so a product can still be considered pareve if the product is made in the same facility as or has come in contact with milk. We advise you to not use Kosher labeling as a guide for if a product is safe for those with milk allergies.

I’ve heard some cities are using cheese brine mixed with ice salt as a de-icing agent for roadways. Does this pose a threat to those with milk allergies?

FARE investigated this question with the City of Milwaukee Health Department. Information provided by the Health Department and reviewed by allergists indicates this is a very low risk practice. There is an extremely small amount of protein content in the salt brine, roughly equivalent to three drops of milk per square yard of roadway. This amount is further diluted by mixing with melting snow and ice. It is very unlikely that a reaction could occur from this practice, and any reactions would likely be localized to the skin contact area.