Recipe Rehab’s Chef Vikki Krinsky Talks to FARE About Cooking with Food Allergies

RR8525_STILL_08In this weekend’s special food allergy episode of the CBS morning show, “Recipe Rehab,” Chef Vikki Krinsky will attempt to make the Savant family’s carrot cake recipe healthier and safe for two children who have multiple food allergies. She’ll go head-to-head with another chef to see which made-over recipe is the family’s favorite. Check local listings to see when the program is airing in your city.

We recently caught up with Chef Vikki to talk to her about how she became a chef, her experience working with families managing food allergies, and her tips for creating nutritious and delicious meals!

Tell us about yourself and how you became a chef.

I am a private chef in Los Angeles, and my approach and theory is all about balance and portion-based meals that limit certain foods but don’t completely eliminate them. This way of living allows us to maintain a healthy lifestyle while managing our cravings, which we all have!

Formerly an actress, I was discovered at the age of 16 and worked on a couple television series, including “Edgemont” in Canada and Lifetime’s “Wild Card” here in the U.S.

At a pivotal moment in my teenage career, I was told to lose weight. Initially disheartened, I picked myself up and had a revelation – I would put aside acting and focus on educating myself on the benefits of healthy eating. I booked a one-way trip to Europe with a debit card, a week’s worth of clothes, and two books on nutrition. On my second day in Paris, a local chef took me under his wing and within a month I was apprenticing throughout Europe. With a new-found passion and knowledge, I returned to the U.S. in search of a kitchen. Good fortune struck again and I found a part-time job with a private chef service in Beverly Hills. Long nights of self-taught technique and hard work, coupled with great mentors in my life, eventually I learned the art of cooking delicious and nutritious food. I have been working exclusively with Seth MacFarlane for several years and wake up smiling everyday because I love my job!

I am lucky enough to be starring on Everyday Health’s Emmy-nominated show “Recipe Rehab,” where I share my passion by leaning on my own personal experience to improve the health, happiness and body image of my clients with fans every Saturday morning on CBS stations.

Tell us about the experience cooking for the Savant family.

As a nutrition-based chef I really enjoyed working with the Savant family because the challenge in finding alternative ways to create delicious classic favorites is both exciting and satisfying. I see it as a beautiful opportunity to help motivate and encourage others to live a healthier lifestyle through their food choices.

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When you have a client with a food allergy, how do you make sure they are getting the nutrition they need, while also avoiding the foods to which they’re allergic? What advice do you have for families in avoiding nutritional pitfalls?

There are unlimited ways to get the proper nutrition, but it is very important to educate yourself on how. For me, I enjoy reading an array of articles based on my client’s food allergy, so my wheels are always turning. My advice is to use this opportunity to educate yourself and be creative in the kitchen. Don’t look at it like what you can’t eat but rather what you can and enjoy the creative process.

Preventing cross-contact in the kitchen is crucial to making safe meals. What is the best way to keep your home kitchen safe? 

Honestly, I think it’s a lifelong investment to buy multiple sets of equipment. To be very aware of use in the kitchen and creating food stations can also be very helpful.

Sometimes people with food allergies, especially kids, can get into a rut with eating the same safe foods all the time. What’s a way they can jazz up some of their staple snacks and meals?

A great way to jazz up snacks and meals is by using different techniques. For example: pureeing carrots, steaming carrots, chopping carrots, eating carrots raw. There are a million things to do with carrots; it’s fun coming up with different ways to eat them. Think outside the box! Another great option to jazz up staples is to find alternative ways to play with your food – celery stalks filled with hummus or other vegetable purees, lettuce leaves filled with ground chicken, bell peppers or tomatoes filled with brown rice and crumbled feta cheese. Using vegetables and fruits to fill up with your favorite ingredients can make eating veggies so much more enjoyable!

Thanks to Chef Vikki for this great information, and we look forward to seeing which chef wins the challenge on the show this weekend!

Recipe Rehab Takes on Food Allergies!

FARE is pleased to announce that we’re kicking of Food Allergy Awareness Week with a special food-allergy-friendly episode of the popular CBS morning program Recipe Rehab! In this special episode, sponsored by FARE, the chefs in this cooking competition will take on a double challenge—making a family carrot cake recipe healthier and safe for the Savant family’s two children who have multiple food allergies.

FARE is thrilled to be sponsoring this episode to help increase awareness among the public about the challenges faced by families managing food
allergies. Tune in this Saturday, May 10 or Sunday, May 11 (check local listings) to see which recipe the Savant family chose!

We asked Jen Savant some questions about her family’s experience on the show. Read more of this behind-the-scenes interview!

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The Savant Family’s Food Allergy Story

We discovered our oldest daughter had food allergies at a young age. When she was nine months old, she stopped having an appetite, rejected foods, and started to have hives. After her 1st birthday, when she avoided the cake altogether, we started to get a hint that she may be having food allergies.  After her first experience of anaphylaxis and months of food diaries and testing, we discovered food allergies were present.

Along came her brother a few years later and we noticed his food allergies presenting themselves at a very early age as well. Both have experienced anaphylaxis and carry emergency packs wherever they go. They also both have asthma and wear allergy bracelets.

Having two children with severe food allergies is challenging, but with the two of them together, it has become a family lifestyle. We look for the blessings about the food allergy lifestyle and enjoy finding food inspirations to keep them on the track to experiencing “everyday regular food” just like everyone else.

Why did you make the decision to appear on Recipe Rehab? 

The opportunity to have our family appear on Recipe Rehab was a no brainer – to represent the food allergy community and to be inspired by new foods for our family and others like us – awesome! It was a great experience for our family to see that foods and recipes without their allergens present were getting some attention beyond our kitchen! It is often difficult to show up to birthday parties and family holidays without a good dish to share with everyone. To be a part of a food show for our family, well that is just something we couldn’t pass up, largely because we so often pass up a large portion of food experiences. This was a great opportunity for our family. We were honored to be a part of it.

What was it like being on the show?

It was an exciting day at our house being a part of the Recipe Rehab taping process. We definitely didn’t know what to expect but soon after meeting the producers and staff, we were comfortably set to enjoy the day. They were all very nice, respectful, and gracious. Camera crews came in to our kitchen and started to set up the production background- cameras, microphones, lighting, etc.  Instantly, our home became a set. The kids were over the moon excited just to see the course of events that were behind the scenes. We were all prepped with a morning meeting which downloaded us on the upcoming day events. The kids felt like adults and the taping was very fun.

What we enjoyed most was sharing a little bit about ourselves and having fun cooking and baking together with an outcome that the kids could enjoy. The whole process was fun for all of us but also great to share our food allergy story.

What are some of your cooking tips to those new to food allergies?

Obviously, label reading is our number one tip. Once that is underway, knowing the list of food substitutes and keeping your kitchen “safe” is very important. For us, we eliminated the bulk of food allergens from our kitchen, but it is also important to remember cross contact (if that is an issue for you) if there are food allergens nearby. From experience, we now keep sponges, cutting boards, knives, pans etc. allergen-free.  It is a small extra step but one that has proven beneficial in keeping our children safe.

Another tip is that we try to make the baked goods, snacks, etc. that we have to prepare, on one or two days a week only. We don’t want to feel trapped in the kitchen. Getting inspiration from cookbooks and other families managing food allergies keeps us feeling like we experience a variety of foods and have fun creating them. Visiting recipe blogs, magazines, and doing research on new allergy-friendly foods (what is new to the market, etc.) also helps to revitalize our family menus and snack ideas.

Savant Family’s Favorite Food Allergy-Friendly Snacks:

  • Homemade Granola and Granola Bars
  • Homemade Dairy Free “Cheese” crackers
  • Fruit Smoothies (sometimes frozen, to make popsicles)
  • Fresh Fruit (often better received when cut in to fun shapes!)
  • Fruit Leather
  • Homemade Hummus and Vegetables/chips
  • Cereals
  • Kale Chips!
  • Coconut Milk Yogurt
  • Homemade muffins (all sorts!)
  • Crackers with Apples
  • Veggies with homemade “dairy free” ranch dip

Tune in on on Saturday, May 10 to watch the Savant family’s episode!

May is Food Allergy Action Month!

This year FARE is expanding Food Allergy Awareness Week by declaring the entire month of May as Food Allergy Action Month – a time to take action and make an impact on behalf of the 15 million Americans with food allergies. Our goal in expanding to a month-long initiative is to go beyond raising awareness in order to inspire action so that we can improve understanding of the disease, advance the search for a cure, create safer environments and help people live well with food allergies.

We’ve created a custom calendar, marked with one action individuals can take each day to support the food allergy community. Print the Action Calendar or bookmark the webpage and make it your goal to complete as many items as possible!

 

For more information, read our press release on the subject.

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 8: San Diego Padres at Los Angeles Dodgers (Dodger Stadium)

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.

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.