Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Just Don’t Get It

If you haven’t already, please take some time to read this post from the Allergy Moms online newsletter. It’s in regards to a middle school secretary from somewhere in Northern California who posted a rather disturbing article on her own blog.

The referred post has since been removed due to threats against her, but it has been posted in its entirety in the Allergy Moms’ comments section. Here is a little taste of what was originally posted.

That wacky fad, the death peanut, has arrived at my school. We have been informed that an incoming student is so allergic to peanuts that they can kill him in an instant and we, a school of 900 thirteen year olds, have to make accommodations to ensure his continued survival.

I read his medical file. As a baby, the child was allergic to milk. As a toddler, the child ingested peanuts and got hives! And, he coughed! He was rushed to the hospital where he was observed with a rash an hour later! At age six, he had a reaction on an airplane, presumably Southwest before they caved to the Peanut Paranoia and started serving pretzels. That situation was so dangerous, they finished the flight, landed home, and took their child to the doctor, where Dr. Feelgood gave a blood test which determined the kid, having not died from peanuts in the past, might die next time, handed the parents an epi-pen and wrote a document that schools have had to comply with ever since.

This middle school secretary later claimed that the post was entirely fictional, and simply in response to the ProBlogger 31 Days to Build a Better Blog assignment from Day 19 – writing an opinion post – but as someone who is also participating in the same challenge, I can tell you that this type of trash was not what was intended.

Yes, it may generate traffic to your site (which is why I’m not linking to the original blog) as opinions will do, but this definitely crosses the line; although I agree that the resulting death threats lobbed at her are just as – if not more so – out of line.

But blog posts like hers do help illustrate the militant attitudes that we as parents run up against on a continued basis. There are still some members of our own church that see it as an extreme inconvenience to keep the shared kitchen peanut-free. Krystyne and I have actually scaled back our volunteer involvement this year because Liam has reacted when we’ve staffed the kitchen at past church-sponsored events (simply by him being in there with us).

Sadly, unless and until they have to deal with a food allergy in their own family, there are too many people who just don’t get it.

Monday, May 25, 2009

School Snacks

If you’re looking for a place to get good, peanut-free snacks for school or church and you’re in the Toronto area, might I suggest the Kraft/Peek Freans factory outlet. They are located on O’Connor Drive at Bermondsey (south of Eglinton Ave.), and they sell Nabisco, Peek Freans, and Christie products at a fraction of the cost. For example, a 5-pound bag of individual Nabisco’s Barnum’s Animals Crackers 100-Calorie packs (regular or chocolate) costs $5.

kid-sized packaging 

parent-sized value

Everything in the outlet store is clearly labelled – even the 7-pound bags of loose Chips Ahoy! cookies – and almost everything in there is peanut-free!

Note: I say almost everything because from time to time, they will sell Dad’s cookies, which are not peanut-free.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Reaction Watch

“Can you check on Liam? And make sure you get a response from him.”

“I kept tickling him until he batted me away.”

“Ok. That’s good.”

This is what happened last night at our house, about every 15 minutes, all night long. Liam was having a secondary reaction.

Most people are aware of what a mild allergic reaction looks like – swelling, hives, itchy skin – and then there are the more extreme symptoms of anaphylaxis, with a drop in blood pressure and difficulty in breathing that can lead to death. Liam’s reactions, like his allergy, are multiple.

If Liam eats something with nuts, we have the EpiPens – they’re always on him unless we’re at home. Thankfully we haven’t needed to use them yet. He is also allergic to trace amounts of nuts (as little as 10 parts per million (ppm) can send him into a reaction) and airborne allergic to nuts – which means he can react to peanut protein on your breath. The source of the allergy dictates how severe his reaction will be.

Yesterday our boys were in the city for their cousin’s birthday party. Since our parents and sisters are very diligent in keeping possible allergens away from Liam – all the food was “safe” – we started to look elsewhere as to what may have happened as a cause. One of their cousin’s friends had a toy whistle that our boys decided to “share” as kids will do, even after warnings from Mommy and Daddy.

Shortly after playing with the whistle, Liam’s temples started to show the blue veins underneath and his eyelids started to look as if they had blue eye shadow. That’s our first warning that he’s reacting to something. So out came the Benadryl and Liam went back out to play. The party carried on without any other incidents and when supper was over we drove back home.

Liam fell asleep almost right away in the van – which in hindsight was probably from his lowered blood pressure. He and his brothers went to bed and off to sleep, until around 9:45 pm when Liam woke up and started power-puking (another one of his reactions). Once his stomach settled and he had finished a quick bath we gave him another couple of Benadryl (since the first one had so violently worn off) and sent him back to a clean bed.

The rest of the night involved waking Liam up every 15 minutes or so to make sure that he wasn’t slipping into a coma-like sleep. I went to bed around 2 am, Krystyne battled it out until 4.

Needless to say, we’re all a little tired today.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Read That Label – Part Two

On a recent shopping trip we picked up some pre-packed kits of Dole’s Asian Crunch salad, which are now called Asian Island Crunch. We have often bought these in the past and since they were on sale, we bought a few of them. It wasn’t until we got them home and started to get them ready for a quick lunch that we noticed they are now packaged with almonds – which was only listed on the front of the package in small print under the product name. We quickly cleaned up the counters and later gave the unopened kits to a friend of ours.

There’s more proof – even to us – that you need to read the label every single time. What was “safe” before may become “unsafe”, and the reverse is true as well. Last Christmas we started to see “safe” batches of After Eight chocolates – Nestle confirmed that they had sent peanut-free batches out, but read the label to make sure.

But back to the salad kits … A customer service agent at Dole confirmed that the Asian Island Crunch salad kits are made in a different plant than the other non-nut kits in the Dole product line to avoid cross-contamination. So we may have lost our favourite of those kits, but at least we can still enjoy others!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Places to Go

If you’re in the Toronto area this weekend, you might want to take advantage of Doors Open Toronto. Historical, architectural, and cultural places like Allan Gardens, Black Creek Pioneer Village, areas of the Distillery District, and even the old Don Jail are opening their doors to the public for free!

Check out the full list of buildings to visit (175 in total) or check out some of the scheduled events. We’re already planning our picnic lunch.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Restaurant List

Krystyne enjoys baking, so we often have a supply of goodies to help feed our sweet tooth cravings. We (yes, me too) also enjoy baking bread from scratch. Since bakery foods are off-limits to us (and even more so to other people with gluten allergies), we often make our own specialty breads – multigrain, sourdough, oat and honey, as well as the standard white and whole wheat. The joy of baking at home is that you can control the ingredients, but what about when we choose to eat out as a family? For that reason, I would like to post the allergy information from some of the restaurants we visit to help you in making safe choices for your own family.

Please Note: The materials provided are current at the time of posting and are for informational purposes only. Restaurant management, food-handling procedures, and ingredients are subject to change, so please confirm the information with restaurant management and inform your server of any allergies before ordering. We do not accept responsibility for any allergic reactions to products served at these restaurants.

Unless otherwise noted, all information listed is for restaurants in Canada.

Restaurants for the boys

Restaurants for Mommy and Daddy
When the boys aren’t with us, we are able – but not necessarily willing – to  eat products with trace amounts of peanuts, so we stick to a short list of restaurants where we avoid menu items with nuts.

Local Shout-Outs
There are a few places in our area that we have frequented in which we have had enjoyable experiences with peanut-safe food items. I’d like to list them here as well.

  • East Side Mario’s, Stouffville
    After the manager informed us that his location does not serve some of the items that other franchises serve in order to maintain a peanut-safe restaurant, we have gone many times – even for a birthday party.  For other locations, all of the franchises have an Ingredients Listing Manual which lists all of the ingredients in their core menu items.
  • Wild Wing, Uxbridge
    A house with 4 men in it has to have chicken wings. We often get take-out from here. We haven’t gone past the wings, onion rings and fries on the menu yet, but when the local one opened, they told us that the only nuts on the premises were the people that worked there and pre-packaged desserts for the kids. Their corporate menu changes often, so make sure to keep the communication open!
  • Canadian Pizza House, Uxbridge
    A great place for pizza-by-the-slice when you’re in a hurry. Great prices, too!
  • Jade’s Finest Chinese Food, Stouffville
    Our favourite Chinese food place! They take extra care to make sure of no cross-contamination when we order. Excellent food and unbelievable prices!
  • Cutie Pies & Cakes, Sandford
    If you’re looking for a cake or other baked goods for a birthday, wedding, shower, or conference you can’t go wrong here! Suzie’s a good friend who also ensures no cross-contamination when you ask for peanut-free goods.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Allergy Awareness

This blog was launched at the start of Allergy Awareness Week here in Canada. Last week the same was marked south of the border, and this week (May 17th – 23rd) is Food Allergy Awareness Week in Australia. Welcome to my friends at the other end of the world – I’ve noticed visits from Perth last week. :)

As the father of three boys who are allergic to peanuts, I understand the struggle in helping others understand the fears, stresses and alienation that a food allergy can cause, but I’m also thankful for the work that organizations like Anaphylaxis Canada and Anaphylaxis Australia – as well as individuals like Robert F. Kennedy Jr. in the States – are doing to bring food allergies forward into the public forum.

As you journey through this week, I urge you to find creative – yet gentle – ways to help friends, family and neighbours learn something of what it’s like to live with a food allergy. Encourage them to take up the 24-hour allergen-free challenge, where they must strive to live one day avoiding a potentially fatal allergen in everything they eat.

While we wait for a cause and cure for these allergies we need to bond together for support, encouragement, and understanding. Isn’t that what we all want?

Monday, May 18, 2009

May Two-Four

This weekend was Victoria Day in Canada – the unofficial start to summer – celebrated in honour of Queen Victoria’s and the reigning monarch’s birthday. Celebrated the Monday before May 24th (hence the name), it’s traditionally the weekend that everyone disappears from the cities and opens their summer cottages.

When living with food allergies, rest and relaxation is more than needed … without it, we would lose our minds! While there are getaway destinations that cater to food allergies, it’s much more relaxing to have a place where you know that your child will be safe.

Our extended family has a trailer near Huntsville, 2 hours north of our house in Uxbridge. In the summer Krystyne and the boys practically live there. We share weeks with her sister and parents to allow everyone a chance to get away from it all in the quiet woods – well, quiet until we arrive. :)

MBC04 The trailer – home away from home

The campground has a central restaurant – called the hub – where everyone is welcome to come and eat, but they’re not peanut-free. However, our trailer has a little kitchenette and we have a barbeque just outside the door, so we can still enjoy the holiday.

One of the funny parts of driving to the trailer is watching for the sign welcoming us to Port Sydney – the nearby town. The town council was certainly creative …

PortSydney Home of 800 nice families & 1 old grouch – HA!

So welcome to summer, everyone! Stay safe!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Baseball, anyone?

Take me out to the ball game,
Take me out with the crowd.
Buy me some peanuts and cracker jack …

One thing we can’t do as a family is take the boys to a baseball game. Not because of cost, but because of the peanuts served in the stands.

The management of the Rogers Centre (formerly SkyDome), the home of the Toronto Blue Jays, periodically offer “peanut free” games where one section is cordoned off and cleaned out. The vendors in the stands are not allowed to bring peanuts into that section, which allows kids to come watch the game in person. We haven’t taken them up on the offer – we’re not sure how Liam would react – but the management are trying.

However, major kudos go to the management of Campbell’s Field in New Jersey – home of the Camden Riversharks. They have permanently made Suite 319 peanut-free, and the cost is low for families as well – starting at $5 for kids and $12 for adults. The full story can be found here as well as on the Riversharks’ website.

So if you’re in the area of Camden, New Jersey go out and catch a Riversharks game … and make sure to thank the staff for opening a great game to kids with allergies!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

It’ll drive you nuts

The other day, my sister Sharon posted a comment on the Allergies on TV article saying that peanuts are a base ingredient of dynamite. Her and I have what I like to call Jeopardy brains – full of trivia useful for playing Jeopardy – which prompted me to think about other non-food items that contain peanuts. Since Liam is airborne-allergic to peanuts, he can react to things in the room without having touched them, and there are a few things that we’ve used before that we can’t use anymore:

  • ant traps – Since ants like peanut butter, it makes good bait.
  • bird food – Remember making suet and peanut butter bird feeders in grade school?
  • pet food – apart from the nuts in bird seed, we noticed nuts were being used in the hamster/guinea pig food and bedding – did I mention Sharon likes animals?
  • grass seed? – this one I’m not sure about, but the last bag of grass seed that I used said that it did not contain crushed peanut shells. Things that make you go “Hmmmm”.


  • lip gloss – we bought some lip gloss at the store the other day that apparently contains almonds. The part of the tube with the ingredient list was against the cardboard package so we didn’t notice it until Krystyne felt her lips tingle.

    Interesting Note: ever since we stopped eating nuts, Krystyne and I have developed a sensitivity to them – kind of like our own little early warning system.

Since peanuts are a good, cheap  source of protein, it can be crushed up and added to a lot of things. And for us, it means that we need to read the label of more than just food items.

For those of you interested in the peanut = dynamite thing, here is the link to the article Sharon found.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Food Allergy Education

Last week was Allergy Awareness Week here in Canada, which spurred us to start this blog. This week (May 10-16) has been deemed “Food Allergy Awareness Week” by the governor of Pennsylvania.

I encourage my American readers to take up the 24-hour Allergen Free Challenge that I presented on Day One of my blog. It won’t be easy, but it is possible.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Sweet Treats

When you’re constantly checking food labels and ingredient lists, it can be discouraging to see chocolates and candies that can no longer be considered “safe” because they either contain or are potentially cross-contaminated with peanuts. The opposite is true as well – when you do find peanut-free treats you buy way too many since you’ve been “deprived”.

Here’s the recipe for a sweet snack that Joseph brought home from school the other day – the taste of butterscotch and chocolate with a crunch – and it’s peanut-free!

Note: make sure that you don’t get your ingredients from a bulk store, as there is a strong possibility of cross-contamination with other food items. Also ensure that you read the label for the chocolate chips – we use PC brand Decadent chocolate chips or Chipits plain chocolate chips (the yellow bag).

10-15 soda crackers (we like salted best)
1 cup butter (real butter, not margarine)
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup chocolate chips
  1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Line a metal cookie sheet with aluminum foil. Place the soda crackers on the foil in a single layer.
  3. In a saucepan, bring butter and brown sugar to a boil. Continue at a rolling boil for 5 minutes, stirring constantly.
  4. When it starts to thicken, immediately pour over crackers. Smooth mixture over crackers with a spatula.
  5. Place in oven for 5 minutes. Turn oven off.
  6. Remove from oven and sprinkle with chocolate chips.
  7. Place back in cooling oven for 5 more minutes.
  8. Remove from oven and spread evenly with a spatula.
  9. Place in fridge or freezer until hard.
  10. Cut or break off pieces to serve. Store any remaining pieces in an airtight container in fridge.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Allergies and Asthma

The Toronto Star had a special health section in its paper last Thursday packed full of articles on allergies and asthma. The online version of the section can be found here.

In it is an article about TV star Lauren Collins, who plays Paige Michalchuk on Degrassi: The Next Generation. Along with the warnings to the co-stars whom her character is scripted to kiss, she shares how it feels to have a life-threatening food allergy.

She also talks to children and teenagers about living with severe food allergies and the increased stress of being noticeably different at an age when you’re fighting to fit in. Lauren encourages, “It’s just about not being embarrassed … You need to thing about your health and you need to think about your well-being, so don’t be afraid to put it out there.”

We’ve been fortunate that Liam’s class is so understanding. He has special permission to carry his EpiPens with him, which we put into a little pouch that he wears on his hip.

The card attached to his pouch lists Liam’s allergies and carries Krystyne’s cell phone and home numbers (blacked out above) for emergency contact. We printed it on cardstock and laminated the card, then used a heavy string to sew it onto the strap. The pouch also contains a pre-programmed cell phone.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

“Allergy Moms” Newsletter

Here is a link to the latest issue of the Allergy Moms online newsletter. In it is the heart-wrenching story of a family that lost one of their sons due to a severe anaphylactic reaction while on holiday.

One of the most difficult things in dealing with a food allergy is explaining just how severe the allergy can be. Sadly, it’s not really driven home until we see it first-hand. I’ve even had family members whine that they couldn’t have a peanut butter sandwich while we were visiting – the worst part was that the person whining is older than me.

So please take time to read the article entitled A Parent’s Worst Nightmare. Maybe it can help to explain the fear and worry without having to witness a life-threatening reaction for yourself.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Safe Snack List

When Liam started kindergarten Krystyne wrote a letter to the parents informing them of his allergy and how to recognize the symptoms of anaphylaxis. Included with that letter was a list of “Safe Snacks” that could be sent to school, rather than a list of “DON’T EAT THAT”. This might be one of the reasons that the parents are so supportive – instead of yelling at them we gave them a list of options.

Here’s the Safe Snack List for reference, and in honour of the new Star Trek movie, Live long and prosper.

Have you taken the 24-hour allergen-free challenge yet? Feel free to comment on your experience.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Allergies on TV

A number of shows have included characters with food (and other) allergies. Even as far back as Happy Days and The Honeymooners, characters were allergic to “spices” (Marion Cunningham) and pickles (Alice Kramden).

Out of some of the shows that have been on TV at our house, here’s a list of some popular characters with their various food allergies …

  • Stan Smith (American Dad) - allergic to shellfish, gave his epi-pen to Roger so he could be “The Decider” of his fate.

  • Meg Griffin (Family Guy) - allergic to peanuts. She threatened to go to her room and eat a full bowl of them because her family didn’t care about her – they were oblivious.

  • Howard Wolowitz (The Big Bang Theory) – allergic to peanuts

  • Lt. Malcolm Reed (Star Trek: Enterprise) – allergic to bromelain (found in pineapple, which is also his favourite food)

  • Dr. Rodney McKay (StarGate: Atlantis) – claims to be allergic to citrus fruit but this may or may not be true, as he is also a hypochondriac.

  • Ross Geller (Friends) – allergic to kiwi, lobster and peanuts

  • Woody Boyd (Cheers) – allergic to black cardamom spice

  • Lily Lebowski & Dr. Mahesh (Crossing Jordan) – chocolate

  • Chief M.E. Dr. Garret Macy (Crossing Jordan) – peanuts

  • Carlos Solis (Desperate Housewives) – eggs

  • Lewis Kiniski (The Drew Carey Show) – strawberries & fish

  • Jill Taylor (Home Improvement) – lobster

  • Nina van Horne (Just Shoot Me) – peanut dip (her lips swell), and bananas

  • Colonel Potter (M*A*S*H) – tomato juice

  • Adrian Monk (Monk) – tomatoes

  • Trudy Monk (Monk’s deceased wife) – fish

  • Bart Simpson (The Simpsons) – butterscotch, imitation butterscotch (“and glow-in-the-dark makeup”)

  • Kenny Becket (South Park) – peanuts

  • Nikki Faber (Spin City) – shrimp

  • Michael Kelso (That 70s Show) – eggs

And some characters’ allergies from kids’ shows …

  • Binky Barnes (Arthur) – allergic to peanuts. An entire episode – Binky Goes Nuts – was dedicated to this.

  • Timmy (Fairly OddParents) – allergic to oranges

  • Dr. Jagu (the movie Space Chimps) – allergic to peanuts, briefly mentioned when his co-worker offers a Snickers bar.

What other ones do you know of?

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Sticks and Stones aside …

One of the most hurtful parts of having children with food allergies is the attitudes that some people choose to offer the world. Most of the negative comments we get are innocently ignorant as to just what a food allergy is.

Let’s face it – when we were growing up, we hardly ever heard of a person with a food allergy. We had friends that would get sick to their stomachs if they drank milk, but that was about it. CBC’s health news site claims an estimate of more than 150,000 people in Canada have peanut allergies (2006 statistic) – not to mention the other food-related ones – and cases have been on the rise in the US as well (from 1 child of 29 in 1997 to 1 of 26 ten years later).

However, there are also idiots that are more militant in their ignorance. They find extreme joy in putting others down to build themselves up. We have heard many things, like being called “Food Nazis”, or told that “We take care of our children – you take care of yours and leave mine alone”, or “How dare you tell me what to feed my child”. We’ve even had one child in another kindergarten class chase Liam, taunting that he had peanut butter on his finger.

Thankfully most people at our boys’ school are very understanding, and the parents always ask what they can do to help. We’ve even had some parents go to extra lengths to ensure that they include Liam and invite him to their child’s peanut-safe birthday party. Liam carries a pouch containing his epi-pens, Benadryl, and a cell-phone with our numbers pre-programmed into it, and the teacher has held a practice drill a few times.

There are more studies being done into food allergies and possible treatments. In 2006, the US Department of Agriculture began investigating the possible breeding of peanuts without the offensive protein, and there have been medical studies involving building a resistance. We live in the interim between intolerance and hopeful prevention or cure. The rest is waiting in faith.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Read That Label!

With practice, you get better at reading product labels for ingredients. My wife Krystyne has often gone to the local supermarket with other parents to help them find “safe” foods for their family. We can now be in and out of the store in about the same time as it takes anyone buying groceries with three lively kids in tow. :)

Over the last three years we’ve learned which brands are usually safe and can pick them up relatively quickly. However, we still check the labels every time, because many manufacturers are still adjusting to listing food allergies on their packaging. We live in Canada, where the labelling laws are pretty good for highlighting ingredients – imported foods, not so much – but there is still no standard for labelling food allergens. Here are a few samples from our shopping today. Notice that there are a number of different ways that companies list the allergen information.

Ingredients01  Ingredients02



The first is from totally nutfree’s “FreeNut Butter” – the item that has replaced peanut butter in Mommy and Daddy’s diet. They proudly advertise that their facility is nut-free but it’s only Mommy and Daddy that are allowed to eat it, since a peanut allergy can also trigger a soy allergy. Also it’s hard for a 5-year old to differentiate between peanut and soy butter by look or smell (taste is pretty close too), so the freenut butter becomes a “Mommy and Daddy treat” like Coke and coffee.

The second is the method most manufacturers are using – listing the allergens in bold type after the regulated ingredients list. We’ve seen others that bold the allergens within the main ingredients as well.

The third is from a package of hot dog buns, which lists the allergens after their main ingredients, but not in any special type face.

The final picture is from a package of Old El Paso taco shells. They don’t list their allergens on the package, but you can’t assume that means there are none. We had to call the company and confirm their manufacturing plant was free from other nut-related products. We’ve found a few companies in the US in this way that have fully nut-free facilities, which has allowed us to add those to our shelves as well.

But you still need to read the labels every time, as manufacturing practices and product lines can change. For example, Quaker’s Large Rice Cakes and Crispy Minis are no longer on the “safe snacking list” for Liam’s school, as the product line has been moved to a different facility that also processes nuts.

We receive a number of food alerts from Health Canada, emailed to us whenever there is a warning or announcement on food quality or regulations surrounding allergens. You can sign up for their Food Allergies e-Notice here.

** UPDATE – 21 May 2009 **

DOLE’s “Asian Crunch” salad kit has been renamed to “Asian Island Crunch”, and now contains almonds! Read that label carefully!

**  **  **  **   **  **  **  **

Here is the warning we got regarding the change at Quaker …


From: "" <>
To: <undisclosed recipients>
Sent: Friday, February 13, 2009 5:20:01 PM
Subject: Product Change Notification: Quaker Large Rice Cakes & Quaker Crispy Minis

Dear Registrant,

PepsiCo Foods Canada has recently made changes to the production of it Quaker Large Rice Cakes and Quaker Crispy Minis. Both products are now being made in a different production facility and as such there have been formula changes to some of their products as well as the introduction of allergens that were not previously found in their products in Canada.

Please read the notice below for all the products that have been impacted by this change.

If you have any questions/concerns, please contact PepsiCo Foods Canada directly through their customer relations department at 1-800-267-6287.

For your information,

Anaphylaxis Canada

NOTICE FROM: PepsiCo Foods Canada

February 2009


Quaker rice cakes (Quaker Large Rice Cakes and Quaker Crispy Minis) available in Canada are now being made in a different production facility. As a result, there will be formula changes to some of the flavours and the introduction of allergens that were previously not found in Quaker rice cakes products in Canada. The affected products are beginning to appear on store shelves in Canada.

Quaker Large Rice Cakes and Quaker Crispy Minis are now being produced in facilities that contain allergens, including peanut, wheat, barley, sulphite, milk, soy and egg. Accordingly, ingredients listings will be changing, and precautionary labeling will be added to affected products, as follows:







May Contain Peanut.


Contains Milk, Soy and Sulphite Ingredients.

Contains Milk and Soy Ingredients.

May Contain Peanut.

Butter Toffee Cracker Jack

Contains Soy, Milk and Sulphite Ingredients.

Contains Soy, Milk, Barley and Sulphite Ingredients.

May Contain Peanut.

White Cheddar

Contains Milk and Soy Ingredients.

Contains Milk, Soy and Egg Ingredients.

May Contain Peanut.


Contains Milk and Soy Ingredients.

Contains Milk and Egg Ingredients.

May Contain Peanut.

Caramel Chocolate Chip

Contains Milk, Soy and Sulphite Ingredients.

Contains Milk, Soy and Sulphite Ingredients.

May Contain Peanut.

Tomato Basil

Contains Milk & Soy Ingredients.

Contains Milk and Soy Ingredients.

May Contain Peanut.






Contains Milk and Soy Ingredients.

Contains Milk and Soy Ingredients.

May Contain Wheat, Egg and Peanut.

Sea Salt & Lime

Contains Milk and Soy Ingredients.

Contains Milk and Soy Ingredients.

May Contain Wheat, Egg and Peanut.


Contains Milk and Soy Ingredients.

Contains Milk and Barley Ingredients.

May Contain Soy, Egg, Wheat and Peanut.

Salt & Vinegar

Contains Milk and Soy Ingredients.

Contains Milk and Soy Ingredients.

May Contain Wheat, Egg and Peanut.

Cheddar Cheese

Contains Milk and Soy Ingredients.

Contains Milk and Soy Ingredients.

May Contain Wheat, Egg and Peanut.

Caramel Kettle Corn

Contains Milk and Soy Ingredients.

Contains Sulphites.

May Contain Wheat, Milk, Soy, Egg and Peanut.


Contains Milk and Soy Ingredients.

Contains Milk and Soy Ingredients.

May Contain Wheat, Egg and Peanut.

Sour Cream & Onion

(formerly Sour Cream & Chives)

Contains Milk and Soy Ingredients.

Contains Milk Ingredients.

May Contain Soy, Wheat, Egg and Peanut.


Contains Milk and Soy Ingredients.

Contains Milk and Soy Ingredients.

May Contain Wheat, Egg and Peanut.

Quaker Foods Canada reminds consumers of these important tips regarding the importance of carefully reading food ingredient labels:

  • Food-allergic individuals and those buying for them are encouraged to read food ingredient labels at least three times: once when purchasing the item; a second time when putting the item away; and a third time just prior to serving the item.
  • Take steps to improve your understanding of labeling regulations and their limitations. It should never be assumed that all sizes and flavours have identical allergen profiles, so check the label every time.

Products with a may contain warning could be problematic for individuals with life-threatening food allergies. If there is a precautionary warning, it is possible that the product contains traces of the allergen.


It may feel like you’re alone in all of this, but there are others that have gone, are going, and will go through this around you. Reach out for help. That’s the hope of this blog – that we can help you as you learn to adapt to this life-changing allergy for the safety of those you love.

Monday, May 4, 2009

What it’s Like

As an answer to my last post, here’s an entry penned by our oldest son, Joseph, on what it’s like to have a peanut allergy.

For me to have a food allergy really sucks. My allergy is peanuts. Peanuts could be in just about anything, examples: peanuts are in milk from the United States, in some body oils, cooking oils and even in some cereals. My brothers are also allergic to nuts. Liam, my youngest brother, is anaphylactic. For those of you who don’t know what anaphylactic means, it means you could die from having a little amount of what you’re allergic to. Liam is also airborne allergic. So you could eat peanut butter for breakfast, but if you go near him he could react. I hope you’ve learned a little about peanut allergens.

But how do they feel?

In our continued struggle to keep our sons safe, we are often called overprotective by others that do not have to deal with anything like this.

Most people will think of an allergic reaction as getting itchy hives or a runny nose and sneezing – not a drastic drop in blood pressure like Liam’s reaction. There have been times when we’ve stayed up most of the night to wake Liam up every 15 minutes or so to make sure that he’s responsive (Liam tends to react multiple times after the initial attack). Thankfully there’s been no need to use the epi-pens that he carries with him anytime that he’s out of the house (although he did jab one into his leg accidentally once while playing).

Sometimes in all of our efforts to keep our children safe, we can lose ourselves. We think that we are making things better for them while giving quick answers to questions like, “Why can’t I sleep over at John’s house?” or “Can I go to Greg’s house for supper?” Hopefully you’ve talked honestly and openly with your child about their allergy and not tried to protect them from that too.

One thing that we found to help keep our focus in this came from – 10 Things Children with Food Allergies Want You to Know. It’s humbling the first few times through.

To what lengths have you gone to keep your child safe? Have you lost sight of how they feel about their allergy?

Sunday, May 3, 2009

The 24-hour Allergen-Free Challenge

Could you do it? Could you live allergen-free for 24 hours?

This week (May 4th-8th) is “National Food Allergy Awareness Week”. Anaphylaxis Canada is challenging everyone in the country to take a 24-hour period and be allergen free. Can you do it?

In order to do this, you would need to do what we go through every time we go to the store, or a restaurant, or eat out at friends’ and family’s houses. You will need to know every ingredient that went into everything that goes into your mouth. Are the allergens listed on the label? Does it contain trace amounts of allergens? Has it come into contact with any allergen and been cross-contaminated? What do you know about the facility in which the food was made? Was it baked in a allergen-free environment? Did it come from the bulk section of the supermarket? Was it made in-house?

When checking for allergens we are advised to read the label three times – once when purchasing the item, once when putting the food away at home, and once again before using it. Can you do it?

Our family lives a completely peanut-free life – we have to. Our three children have been diagnosed as allergic to peanuts, including trace amounts of 10 parts per million (ppm). Our youngest son – Liam – is airborne-allergic as well, which means that if you’ve eaten a peanut (or other tree nut) within the last 48 hours he could react to you.

When eating peanut-free, you have to be fully committed; you can’t cheat like you do on a diet. One wayward ingredient and you could be spending the night in the emergency room. With the severity of Liam’s allergy we can’t guess that something is “safe” – it’s his life at stake.

So I encourage you to take up this challenge – this will help you understand the stress that this adds to the life of someone who deals with this every day. Take one day this week and give up an allergen – peanuts/nuts, soy, wheat, eggs, fish, or others. As this blog is about peanut allergies, I can give you a short (non-inclusive) list of things to avoid that may contain peanuts.

What Contains Peanuts
(items marked with * have caused deaths )

peanut* / peanut butter* / peanut meal arachide / cacahuete / cacahuate
peanut soup / peanut punch / peanut drink ground nuts / beer nuts
peanut popcorn / peanut shells / peanut flour goober nuts / goober peas
peanut sauce / satay sauce* Mandelona nuts / Nu-Nuts
peanut-scented fishing lure (Mann’s Vworm) peanut butter flavour lip gloss (Bonne Bell)
Roy Rogers’ butterfinger milkshake Rocky Road ice cream

What May Contain Peanuts
(items marked with * have caused deaths )

chocolate / candies / cookies European chocolates*
Desserts* / sweets* / almond paste* chili* / egg rolls* / salsa / barbeque sauce
designer jelly beans / donuts / muesli pesto sauce / curry sauce / marinade
ice cream / sundaes / cereal / milkshakes plum sauce / mooshu sauce
granola bars / rice squares vegetable burgers / dried salad dressing
pet food (ie: gerbil. birdseed) some European cow’s milk formula
animal food (ie: pellets at petting farms) some Lean Cuisine meals / Arachis oil
homemade playdough bean bags with peanut shell filling
peanut butter suet cakes milk sold in the USA – may sometimes have peanut oil or fish oil to carry added vitamins

Note: European chocolate often has nut pieces which are not declared on the label. Some zinc and Castol oil creams, vitamin syrups and Nutella, Pears soap may have peanut oil. Many ant traps use peanut in them.

As an idea of some restaurants that our family have given up due to possible peanut cross-contamination:

  • Boston Pizza
  • Pizza Hut
  • Pizza Pizza
  • McDonalds – we only order at the drive thru, never eat-in, and not all menu items (chiabatta buns and cookies are out)
  • Burger King
  • Montana’s
  • Kelsey’s
  • Jack Aster’s
  • Tim Hortons / Country Style – coffee/tea only, at the drive thru, no food items

And for even more fun, we re-seeded our lawn this week and noticed that the bag of grass seed said “No peanut shells”.

So try the challenge. Read the ingredients label every time you pick something up. And remember, just because it doesn’t list “peanuts” on the label doesn’t mean it’s safe. Call the company and find out.

For you it’s only 24 hours.