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AllergyKids and Birthday Parties: Tips On Safe Fun

November 6, 2011 •  no comments.

 •  Blog, News

Written By Andrea Boley, a busy mom, for AllergyKids

Food allergies are common among children and can make it very difficult for you to find creative ways to celebrate special events such as birthday parties. Will your child ever be able to enjoy a birthday party if he is not allowed to eat the food that is prepared especially for him? If your child suffers from food allergies, he doesn’t have to be the odd ball out at his own birthday party. Consider planning the party to meet his specific needs! The following are a few suggestions on how you can throw a great party for a child who suffers from food allergies.

Don’t make the focus on food. Kids with food allergies tend to eat less than those kids who do not have allergies. This is especially true if the food allergies are severe. If your child is unable to eat many of the traditional birthday party goodies, perhaps you can plan the party around something other than food. Choose a fun theme such as a carnival or skating party where the children at the party will be busy playing games or skating rather than eating. Consider renting a water slide or inflatable jumper to help make the party a hit.

Make sure he can eat EVERYTHING at the party. If you do decide to make food a focus of the party, make sure that you child can eat everything. This will help him feel special and know that the party is specifically for him. This may take time and energy on your part, but your child will not have to wonder what he can and cannot eat at the party. Doing this may also involve preparing the food a few days in advance for the party as allergy free food can often be time consuming on your part.

Realize that the other kids may not particularly enjoy the food. Look at your child’s birthday party as a time to please him rather than the other guests at the party. Many times, parents are so busy trying to make a statement or plan a party that will be a hit for the other kids that they forget who the party is really for. If your child has a gluten allergy, you will have to greatly alter the recipe for the traditional birthday cake. Be prepared for complaints from other kids about how the food taste. Keep in mind, however, who the party is for and don’t wear your feeling on your sleeves.

Allow your child to choose the menu for the party. Kids who have allergy are very aware of what they can and can’t eat. Just as with other kids, there are things that they like to eat more than others. Ask your child what he would like to have at the birthday party. This will make him feel special by including him in the planning process. You can also be sure that he enjoys the food that you will prepare for him. He may also enjoy spending some time with you in preparing the goodies for the party.

There are several ways that you can plan a fun birthday party for a child with food allergies. Go all out and plan a unique theme and make food the afterthought. If food must be the focus, be sure to keep your child as the center of the party rather than planning it around other guest. Talk with other parents of kids who have food allergies and get ideas on how they made the party a success. It will be a party that your child will never forget!

Andrea Boley is a writer and a busy mom. She is always happy to share her passion for life and experiences through her work, and in her spare time works as a freelance writer for Storkie.

Do you know what is in your wine? Eggs, milk, fish, shellfish, wheat?

November 3, 2011 •  3 comments.

 •  Blog, News

Written by Julie and John Trone of www.allergyfreetable.com for AllergyKids

Wine is in a category of its own when you think of its history, popularity, and creation. The act of creating wine has been called a science and an art with the goal to delight the senses. What if you drink wine then your body reacts with headache, nasal stuffiness, digestive problems, or anaphylactic shock? Grapes may not be the culprit. There are a handful of undisclosed ingredients that may reside in your wine that can cause physical discomfort and allergic reactions.

Eggs, fish, shellfish, gelatin, wheat and milk products are commonly used in the wine making process although consumers are unaware since the United States does not require ingredient labeling or allergen warnings for alcoholic beverages. The word ‘vegan’ on the label means there are no animal products but there could be the presence of a wheat protein if used in the fining process. Biodynamic wineries tend to be vegan and gluten free while being good stewards of the earth during the entire process of creating wine.

There are countries that are or will be requiring allergen labeling on wine bottles. Australia, Hong Kong, and New Zealand have already instituted allergen labeling while Canada’s recent legislation to label wines with food allergens will go into effect in August of 2012.

How are these potential allergens used in the wine making process?

Allergens can be added during ‘fining’, which is the process of clarifying wine, by removing undesirable odors, colors, and flavors. For example, reducing a strong oak flavor or clarifying the appearance. The fining agents will attach themselves to the various impurities or solids in the wine and drop to the bottom of the barrel or tank. As the wine is racked or moved from one barrel or tank to another, the sediment at the bottom will stay thus is not considered a part of the finished wine. The filtration, racking, and clarifying processes are supposed to remove sediment and fining additives.

One of the most widely used fining agents is bentonite (a type of clay) which is vegan and gluten free and often used when making biodynamic wines. Other fining agents are egg white, egg shell, casein (milk), hydrolyzed wheat gluten isolate, chitin (made from crustacean), gelatin (from animal or fish protein), isinglass (substance from fish bladders, often sturgeon) and a host of other synthetic and natural materials.

Lysozyme, derived from egg whites, is used to control lactic acid bacteria in the wine. It can be added at several different points in the wine making process. The lysozyme is not removed nor settles so it stays in the wine.

Are there allergens in your bottle of wine?

Studies measuring the presence of allergens have had mixed results. In a study conducted in Australia in 2006 no measurable allergens were found.1 Contrary to the Australian study, the European Food Safety Authority showed there could be adverse allergic reactions from wine due to lysozyme

additives.2

The amount of allergens used in the wine making process depends on the quality of the vintage. Although some vintners may prefer particular fining agents for their white wines and others for their red wines none of the wine making processes are exactly alike from vintage to vintage, region to region and winery to winery. Each harvest season the grapes are assessed for their quality and quantity followed by artfully and scientifically developing the wine with the right amount and type of fining agents. This is a dilemma for the wine enthusiast who also has food allergies since it is not known whether trace elements remain after bottling.

Before you purchase wine you should be aware that some vintners believe the filtration process reduces flavor. Bottles of unfiltered wine will most likely contain allergens used in the production process. Unfiltered wines tend to be ‘high end’ or expensive varieties. The wine label may or may not disclose whether the wine is unfiltered. This information further complicates choosing a safe wine.

How do you choose a safe bottle of wine?

There are wineries that are dedicated to providing wines without any fining agents or lysozyme enzymes. For wine enthusiasts who have food allergies to egg, milk, fish, shellfish or wheat look for vegan, gluten free, or biodynamic wines. We found two California vintners who produce vegan, gluten free, and biodynamic wines; Frey Vineyards of California, and Maysara Winery in Oregon. We contacted Naseem Momtazi at Maysara Winery who shared her family’s philosophy. They believe the wine should be ‘untouched’ (by additives, fining agents, and so on…) so they can ‘provide consumers with the purest form of grapes and wine’ she told us.

For other wineries that specialize in vegan or gluten free wines search the web for ‘vegan and gluten free wines’ or contact your favorite winery for information on their production process and your concerns.

For more information on the studies mentioned:

  1. Potential food allergens in wine: double-blind, placebo-controlled trial and basophil activation analysis. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16928473
  2. Scientific Opinion related to a notification for the Oenological Products and Practices International Association (OENOPPIA) on lysozyme from hen’s egg http://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/efsajournal/pub/2386.htm

Authors’ Bio:

Julie Trone, author of two pocket guides ‘Pocket Guide for Educators: Food Allergies & Schools’ and ‘Pocket Guide for Parents: Food Allergies & Children’, has been actively involved in support, advocacy, legislation, and creating materials promoting food allergy safety. She lives in Fort Collins, Colorado with her husband and twin boys, one of whom has severe multiple food allergies.

Julie’s husband, John, has worked with a family wine business for over 20 years. He now splits his time between his family business and working with Julie providing food allergy safety books and online courses through her business, Allergy Free Table. www.AllergyFreeTable.com.