Take Action This Week On Behalf of 15 Million with Food Allergies!

It’s Food Allergy Awareness Week! We encourage you to take action that will make an impact for those affected by food allergies and anaphylaxis, a life-threatening allergic reaction.

Earlier this month, we announced the expansion of Food Allergy Awareness Week by declaring the entire month of May as Food Allergy Action Month, publishing a calendar with suggestions on how anyone can take an action each day in a meaningful way. Today, in honor of the 15 million Americans affected by food allergies, FARE is publishing “15 Essential Food Allergy Facts.”

Food Allergy Awareness Week, observed this year May 11-17, was created by FARE in 1998 as a way of bringing widespread attention to a life-altering and potentially life-threatening disease. So far this year, elected officials in 30 states and the District of Columbia have issued proclamations in honor of Food Allergy Awareness Week, and a resolution has been introduced in Congress. FARE is also spreading the word about its #TealTakeover – a coordinated community and social media campaign that encourages individuals, organizations, schools, and businesses to paint their community teal, the official color of food allergy awareness, in order to spark conversation and inspire action.

“Taking action to raise awareness and garner support for a cure is critically important each and every day,” said John L. Lehr, chief executive officer of FARE. “Taking the time to educate yourself about food allergies – even if they don’t personally affect you – can save a life. That is why we want to spread the word this month with our 15 essential facts that will help improve understanding of food allergies.”

Today at 3:30 p.m. ET, FARE will be hosting an “Ask the Experts” Twitter chat featuring Ruchi Gupta, MD, PhD, associate professor of pediatrics at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine’s Center for Healthcare Studies, and Wayne Shreffler, MD, PhD, associate professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and chief of pediatric allergy and immunology and director of the Food Allergy Center at Massachusetts General Hospital. Drs. Gupta and Shreffler will answer questions about food allergies during the chat moderated by FARE staff. Twitter users can participate using #FAREChat.

On Wednesday, FARE will host a webinar featuring Mike Spigler, vice president of education at FARE, who will discuss FARE’s educational programs as well as provide a sneak preview of FARE’s upcoming National Food Allergy Conference on June 21-22 in Chicago. This past weekend, FARE sponsored an episode of the competition cooking show Recipe Rehab, featuring a San Diego family managing food allergies.

Throughout the country, food allergy education efforts have intensified this month. FARE is providing a variety of resources to families, individuals and businesses to participate in Food Allergy Action Month in a meaningful way, including an infographic, free posters, shareable graphics, bookmarks and more – all designed to educate others and help demonstrate the broad impact that have food allergies have across the nation.

Visit FARE’s comprehensive online headquarters at www.foodallergyweek.org for more information on how to get involved.

Here are FARE’s 15 Essential Food Allergy Facts:

15  Essential Food Allergy Facts

  1. About 15 million Americans have a food allergy.
  2. A food allergy results when the immune system mistakenly targets a harmless food protein as a threat and attacks it.
  3. The top eight food allergens in the United States are milk, egg, peanut, tree nuts, wheat, soy, fish and shellfish.
  4. Even the tiniest amount of an allergen can cause a reaction.
  5. One in 13 children, or roughly two in every classroom, has a food allergy.
  6. The number of children with food allergies is on the rise – the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention reported a 50 percent increase from 1997 to 2011.
  7. Scientists have not yet uncovered the cause for the rise in food allergy.
  8. Food allergy reactions can range from mild to severe. Anaphylaxis, the most severe allergic reaction, is potentially fatal.
  9. Every three minutes, a food allergy reaction sends someone to the emergency room in the United States.
  10. Epinephrine is the only medication that can reverse the symptoms of anaphylaxis.
  11. A food allergy is different from a food intolerance. A food allergy involves the immune system and can cause serious reactions, while an intolerance means having trouble digesting a food.
  12. Food allergies can develop at any age. While many food allergies are outgrown, certain food allergies, such as peanut and tree nut allergy, are typically considered lifelong.
  13. Caring for children with food allergies costs U.S. families more than $24 billion annually.
  14. There is no cure for food allergy.
  15. Teenagers and young adults with food allergies are at the highest risk of fatal food-induced anaphylaxis.

Sugar Cookies for Food Allergy Awareness Week

Food allergy is a serious medical condition—but the ways in which we raise awareness can have a lighter approach! This year, FARE is starting its first #TealTakeover—a coordinated campaign that encourages individuals, organizations, schools, and businesses to paint their community teal, the official food allergy awareness color.

There are lots of ways for you to get involved, including making these allergy-friendly cookies for friends, family or coworkers!

Milk-free, Egg-free, Peanut-free, Tree nut-free

ttcookiesCookies

  • ⅔ cup shortening
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ T. water, 1 ½ T. oil, 1 tsp. baking
  • powder; combined
  • teal food coloring (optional)
  • 4 tsp. water
  • 2 cups flour, sifted
  • 1 ½ tsp. baking soda
  • ¼ tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cream together shortening, sugar and vanilla. Add water, oil and baking powder mixture; beat until light and fluffy. Optional: add food coloring as desired to remaining water. Stir water into shortening mixture. Sift together dry ingredients; blend into creamed mixture. Divide dough in half. Chill 1 hour.

Grease cookie sheets. On lightly floured board, using half of the chilled dough at a time, roll to 1/8-inch thickness. Cut in desired shapes with cookie cutters. Bake for 6 to 8 minutes. Cool slightly; remove from pan and continue cooling on wire racks.

Makes 2 dozen cookies.

Icing

  • 1 cup confectioners sugar
  • 4 tsp. water
  • 1 tsp. clear vanilla extract

Combine sugar and water and stir until smooth and to desired consistency. Add vanilla. Spread over cookies. Allow to harden.
To decorate cookies as pictured, make two batches of icing. Add teal food coloring to one batch (if you don’t have teal food coloring, try combining blue and green until you have the shade of teal you like). Spread cookies with white icing. Snip off the corner of a small plastic bag, then fill with teal icing and pipe the outline of the cookies in teal.

Remember to tag your photos and updates with #TealTakeover – we can’t wait to see how everyone is participating!

Spotlight on Conference Keynote Speaker Curtis Sittenfeld

sittenfeldWe are delighted to have bestselling author Curtis Sittenfeld, who has written about food allergies in The New York Times and Slate Magazine, delivering the keynote at the FARE National Food Allergy Conference on Saturday, June 21. FARE caught up with Curtis to talk about food allergies and what she’s most looking forward to about the conference.

Tell us a little bit about your background, and what your next project is:
I’m a writer—I’ve written many reported articles, including a profile of Michelle Obama for Time magazine and a profile of Mindy Kaling for The New York Times Magazine, as well as personal essays for places such as Real Simple, Allure, and The Atlantic. These days, I’m primarily a novelist and am working on my fifth book. My earlier books include “Prep,” which is about a girl from Indiana who goes to a fancy Massachusetts boarding school; “American Wife,” which is a fictional retelling of the life of Laura Bush; and “Sisterland,” which is about twin sisters, one of whom garners national attention when she makes a prediction that a major earthquake will occur. My next project is a contemporary re-imagining of Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice.” The British division of the publisher HarperCollins initiated a project in which different writers are writing their own versions of Austen’s six novels. When they asked me to be involved, I found the
invitation irresistible. I sometimes joke that I’m basically writing Austen fan fiction.

What’s your food allergy connection?
I have two children, the younger of whom was diagnosed with multiple food allergies just before her first birthday (she is now three). She’s allergic to eggs, milk, tree nuts, peanuts, and, more randomly, flaxseed.

What have you found to be the most challenging aspect of managing food
allergies?
Hmm, it depends on the day! Being a “food allergy mom” has definitely forced me to plan ahead and also to be vocal if I feel there is a danger to  my daughter (I always try to be polite, but it’s pretty much impossible to pretend to be easygoing). But I’d probably say that I find the anxiety the most challenging—the need to be very alert whenever food is around, and food is
around in most places.

Why did you choose to speak up about food allergies?
For people who haven’t been exposed to them, food allergies and the ways
they affect daily life can be hard to imagine; also, of course, there are some
unfortunate and inaccurate stereotypes about what kind of people have food
allergies. As a writer, I hope that I can get beyond these stereotypes and
convey some of the unique challenges of food allergies in a direct, honest way.

What are you most looking forward to about the FARE National Food Allergy Conference?
I’m really excited to attend various panels and to exchange tips with other
people for handling food allergies. And as a chocolate fiend, I’m hoping that
Enjoy Life will be offering samples!

To see Curtis speak at our National Food Allergy Conference, register today!

Read some of Curtis Sittenfeld’s articles and essays about food allergies:

 

FARE Files Amicus Brief in Food Allergy Discrimination Case

tealgavel200x125A case involving a kindergarten student with a tree nut allergy has the potential to set a precedent for food-allergy-related accommodations in a federal appellate court. FARE, joined by the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates, filed an amicus (friend of the court) brief Friday in the civil rights case, T.F. vs. Fox Chapel Area School District, in the Third U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, one step below the U.S. Supreme Court. 

A federal judge previously ruled that the school district did not discriminate against the child in violation of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, and that the school offered reasonable accommodations, and had not retaliated against the student’s parents when it filed a truancy petition after the parents withdrew their child from school. Among the accommodations that the school offered was special lunch seating at a nut-free table that was actually a single desk in the cafeteria. 

The amicus brief outlines the critical importance of school-wide food allergy management policies, as well as detailed individualized student accommodation plans that not only note policies, but specifically explain how they will be carried out and by whom. We will keep you posted on the outcome of this case.

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.

RR8525_STILL_03

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!

savantfamily

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!