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.
Spring 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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 4: Toronto Blue Jays at New York Yankees (Yankee Stadium) - email email@example.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 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 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 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 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.
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:
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
This article was originally published in the Winter 2014 issue of FARE’s Food Allergy News. Read more of the newsletter here.
A good friend can make you laugh, have your back, and be there for you when you have a tough day. We hear from kids with food allergies all the time that their friends are such an important part of their support system. Tayvon and Katie are two remarkable kids – while they do not have food allergies themselves, they are helping their friends stay safe, educating others about food allergies, and setting an example for other kids in their communities. We want to give a shout out to Tayvon and Katie, who are truly great pals to their friends with food allergies!
At seven years old, Tayvon is already an amazing advocate for his 5-year-old friend and neighbor Amylee, who is allergic to egg and peanuts. Without being asked, he washes his face and hands before going to Amylee’s house to play, and has even changed his clothes to be certain he didn’t bring any peanut into her home when he had eaten peanut butter cookies earlier in the day. He keeps a protective eye on Amylee and makes sure to warn other kids who may be eating or playing near her about her allergies. Thank you for being a great food allergy friend, Tayvon!
When kids don’t have food allergies themselves, it’s not always easy for them to “get” what it means to live day to day managing the disease. At 11 years old though, when Katie learned that a friend in her Girl Scout troop had a peanut and tree nut allergy, she “got it” and set out to have her troop learn more about food allergies to earn the food allergy badge. She also volunteered at the FARE Walk for Food Allergy in Las Vegas last year, which was especially relevant to her since her dad has a poultry and egg allergy. Katie will be volunteering at the walk again this year, and is excited to help her community and her friends with food allergies. She said that she hates that kids with food allergies get made fun of, which is why she wanted to get involved. Thanks to Katie for showing us that even at a young age, kids can make a difference for their friends and in their communities!
Food allergy reactions are unpredictable. The way that your body reacts to a food allergy one time cannot be used to predict how it will react the next time.
Because the symptoms of anaphylaxis — a severe allergic reaction that is potentially fatal — can worsen quickly, reactions must be treated right away. Seconds count!
Symptoms of a food allergy reaction can affect different parts of the body. They can be mild (itchy nose or a few hives) or severe (trouble breathing, repetitive vomiting, etc.).
Epinephrine, which helps reverse the symptoms of a severe reaction, is the only treatment for anaphylaxis. Antihistamines may be used to relieve mild allergy symptoms, such as a few hives, but they cannot control anaphylaxis and should never be given as a substitute for epinephrine. Mild symptoms can quickly turn into a life-threatening reaction. Anyone having a reaction to a food allergen should be watched closely.
Following are the general guidelines for treating an allergic reaction, using FARE’s Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Emergency Care Plan. This plan was developed under the guidance of FARE’s Medical Advisory Board, comprised of the country’s leading food allergy experts. Everyone with a diagnosed food allergy should work with their allergist to fill out an Emergency Care Plan that is right for them. General recommendations:
Epinephrine is a safe and relatively harmless drug, and allergists advise that if you have any doubt about whether to use epinephrine, you should go ahead and use it. Your allergist may prefer that epinephrine be used before symptoms or with only mild symptoms if a food allergen was eaten.
It’s important to note that this lifesaving drug should be given first, followed by a call to 911. We also advise that you let dispatchers know that you are giving epinephrine, and that you are requesting an ambulance with epinephrine.
Again, when in doubt, give epinephrine! This is critically important. You could save a life.
For more information about food allergies, please visit www.foodallergy.org.
For more information about treatment and management of an allergic reaction, please visit http://www.foodallergy.org/treating-an-allergic-reaction.
This article was reviewed by Scott H. Sicherer, M.D. professor of pediatrics, allergy and immunology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.
By: Kristen Kauke
Valentine’s Day is the ancient rite of celebrating love by exchanging romantic expressions with the person who embraces your heart. Gifts such as cards, candy, flowers and other tokens attempt to convey your utmost adoration and affection for your Valentine.
If your Valentine has food allergies, you might find traditional attempts at cherishing your Valentine challenging as many candies, chocolates and flowers could trigger allergies instead of sparking romance. However, by following simple tips for couples who navigate food allergies, romance can reign!
Kristen Kauke is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, who also happens to parent two boys with life threatening food allergies, as well as live with food allergies herself. She will be facilitating free educational webinar with FARE on February, 12 at 1:00 p.m. titled, “Safe and Sound: Relationships, Dating and Intimacy Challenges Associated with Having Severe Food Allergies.” Register to attend here: http://www.foodallergy.org/tools-and-resources/webinars.
Happy Valentine’s Day!