Do you know or suspect your child has a milk allergy? Help AllergyUK help you (and win £30)

For many parents, a suspected but undiagnosed food allergy can be a source of huge stress and uncertainty. We had tried elimination of certain foods to try and help small boy’s eczema, but it wasn’t until the terrifying reaction to a peanut that we even considered food allergies.

Amongst other things, small boy is allergic to dairy, or specifically cow’s milk protein. He was breastfed as a baby, but was a champion vomiter from day 1. When I used to give him cow’s milk after he turned one, and he continually vomited it on his own head, I just thought that was normal- he was my first (so I didn’t know any better) and he was a sicky baby. With hindsight, of course, I was filling him with something he was allergic to and that’s why he was sick.

But what if you do suspect your child has an allergy, specifically to cow’s milk protein, which is hard to avoid in the early years? Cows’ milk protein allergy is actually the most common childhood food allergy, affecting between 2-7% of babies under one year of age.  With a wide variety of symptoms, many of which can be similar to other conditions, having a child with cows’ milk protein allergy can be very worrying for parents.

Allergy UK, the national organisation supporting people with allergies in the UK, is running a survey to share the experiences of parents or carers who have a baby with cows’ milk protein allergy, or suspect their baby may have the condition.  The survey asks 30 questions (although some are quite long) about your experiences with a cow’s milk protein allergy, or suspected allergy, and if you complete the survey you could be in with a chance to win one of 30 £30 vouchers from Mamas & Papas.  The survey is available from http://www.allergyuk.org/news_cowsmilksurvey.aspx.

AllergyUK have also partnered with infant nutrition brand Aptamil (who produce a formula suitable for allergic babies) for to create a range of actually helpful resources to help support parents and help them to understand this condition http://www.aptamil.co.uk/allergies.

If your child does have an allergy, or you suspect as much, do go and see your healthcare provider, because managing the nutritional needs of your small child can be difficult and you need to demand all the help and support you can get. Small boy was 3 when his allergies were diagnosed, and he is also allergic to soya, so has to make do with rice and oats milks. Fortunately, the growing awareness means that alternative milks are more readily available than they once were.

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Free From Food Awards 2012- Judging getting nearer…

I may have previously mentioned that I have been invited to judge some of the categories in this year’s Free From Food Awards. Judging day is getting closer, my train ticket is booked and my tastebuds are at the ready.

I am sure all the entrants in all the categories will be fantastic, but I asked the Free From Food Awards HQ for an update on why this year’s awards are going to be the best EVER.

Michelle told me she is “very excited about the ready meals category which has always been a bit sparse in previous years but this year is bulging with entrants – real reflection of what is happening in the free from market.”

HQ are also very excited about the new raw food and superfood category. They have had some great entries, including  raw chocolate, mesquite flour, ‘flax dippers’, kale chips, beet juice and cheesecakes to name but a few. Interestingly traditional categories, such as bread, are now part of the main stream (a great reflection of the expanding free from market) so there are fewer entries this year – although, of course, cakes  are still holding up *cue collective sigh of relief from judges*

Still, the most popular judging category still remains the alcoholic variety, where judges can even sample some Free From nettle beer.

Can’t wait 🙂

Naming and shaming- Ramada Penns Hall

If you have allergies, you will know that it is difficult to eat out. However, when you have spoken to the eatery in question and have been assured that your allergies can be catered for, to be told 15 minutes before your booking that actually, they can’t is a bit off. But that is exactly what the Ramada Penns Hall Hotel, Sutton Coldfield did to me yesterday.

The event was a pantomine and dine, a three course carvery followed by a pantomime. Together with some other mums from my children’s school, we arranged to go. I did the organising and spoke to the events team before booking to ask if I could bring my own food for my son. I was told that this wasn’t usual and if I did this under no circumstances would I expect to pay any less for no food than for someone having three courses. This was, of course, discriminatory against allergy sufferers, but I was advised that the kitchen would be able to accommodate our needs on the day. I then rang up to book- the final number of attendees was 22. Again I was advised that the kitchen would be able to accommodate my son’s allergies.

So, six weeks later, the day of the meal arrived. Everything was paid four weeks in advance, but having a sixth sense about this, I rang the hotel as we were on our way just to check 100% that the allergy friendly food would be available. There was some discussion on the phone before they advised us that actually, they could not guarantee anything leaving the kitchen would be nut free. At 12.45pm before a 1pm booking.

I went home to take a packed lunch for my son- we couldn’t let everyone down at that late point- but I was angry. My son rarely gets to feel ‘normal’ and to be dumped back into his allergy box at this late stage was soul-destroying. If they had advised me at the time of booking I could have prepared him and made alternative arrangements. Perhaps we would not have booked, which is presumably why they did not tell me then- why lose 22 people’s bookings when you can just ruin one small boy’s day and charge him £11 for some hot water.

The Ramada Sutton Coldfield Hotel, run by BDL Hotels Ltd will not be getting my custom again, and I will be investigating whether I can challenge their refusal to cater for, or offer alternative prices for allergy sufferers under anti-discriminatory legislation.

Free From Food Awards

If you are here, on a site about managing food allergies, you have probably already heard of the FreeFrom Food Awards 2012 “The industry’s only award for excellence for freefrom food – raising the profile of freefrom within the industry and with the consumer”.

Manufacturers of free from products were asked to submot their products for consideration in up to 17 categories, as follows:

1. The Innovation award:
The innovation category is open to any product which successfully pushes the boundaries of freefrom in terms of concept, ingredients and/or manufacture.

Categories:

2. Dairy and/or lactose-free animal milk, butter, yogurt and ice cream
Sponsored for 2012 by Swedish Glace

3. Plant (soya, rice, oat, nut, potato, hemp, millet, coconut etc) ‘milk’, spread, yogurt, ‘cheese’ and ice cream
Sponsored for 2012 by Pure

4. FreeFrom breakfast cereals
Sponsored for 2012 by Fria Gluten Free

5. FreeFrom breads and bread mixes
Sponsored for 2012 by Genius Gluten Free

6. FreeFrom pasta and pizza bases/mixes
Sponsored for 2012 by Tesco

7. FreeFrom foods manufactured for food service
Sponsored for 2012 by Livwell

8. FreeFrom ingredients, pastry/pastry mixes, sauces, flour, stock, marinades, sweeteners etc
Sponsored for 2012 by Juvela

9. • NEW • Raw foods and superfoods
Sponsored for 2012 by Asda

10. FreeFrom pizzas, savoury pies, flans, sausages and ready meals
Sponsored for 2012 by Delamere Dairy

11. FreeFrom savoury biscuits and snacks
Sponsored for 2012 by Genon Laboratories

12. FreeFrom scones, sweet tarts, Bakewells, sweet biscuits and cookies
Sponsored for 2012 by Tesco

13. FreeFrom cakes, cake mixes, muffins, brownies, cup cakes, cake bars and Eccles cakes
Sponsored for 2012 by Mrs Crimbles

14. Freefrom puddings, sweet pies, cheesecakes and desserts
Sponsored for 2012 by Hale & Hearty

15. FreeFrom chocolate, snack bars and petit fours
Sponsored for 2012 by Tesco

16. FreeFrom Christmas foods
Sponsored for 2012 by Produced in Italy

17. Gluten-free beer
Sponsored for 2012 by Asda

Although the entires are now in, there is now a very important job to be done. In early February 2012, a select group of people will be undertaking the hard task of judging each category, before selecting a winner and two runners up. I am delighted to announce that Food Allergy Kitchen was invited to be on the judging panel and will be deliberating at a secret location very soon.

Although I cannot reveal the categories I am judging, nor make you privy to highly confidential judging discussions, an update on the awards will be posted after the judging has taken place. Please note that I do not accept bribes…

The shortlist will be published on or around the 1st March 2012, before the awards are presented in April 2012. The Awards will also be showcased at the Allergy & Freefrom Show at Olympia in May.

Are allergies linked to GM foods?

I came across this link to a TED talk by Robyn O’Brien on the link between GM Foods and allergies. What do you think? Certainly answers the questions why children didn’t used to have so many allergies and why less developed countries don’t seem to suffer…

 

Update- competition winners

I completely forgot I didn’t announce the competition winners from Food Allergy Week!

The winner of the MedicAlert bracelet was Marzena

The winner of the TidyTray was Sonia Thorpe

 

Congratulations both, and commiserations to those who weren’t lucky this time.

Food Allergy Week- Win with TidyTrays!

As if it weren’t enough that the lovely Kerri from TidyTrays is sponsoring me to go to Cybermummy (see mumazing for more details), she has also offered Food Allergy Kitchen readers the chance to win a Tidy Tray!

Kerri found Tidy Trays in North America after despairing at trying to find something in the UK to help protect her child when eating away from home. Clearly, when you have a child who suffers from an allergy, making sure there is no cross contamination becomes even more important.

Tidy Trays create a clean, safe eating surface for your child guarding them against germs and bacteria. They fit on every restaurant highchair, food court tray, daycare highchair and residential highchair tested in North America and the UK. Tidy Trays are easy to clean and machine washable and the built-in sippy cup holder can be used for easy fold away storage.

From a personal point of view, we have been caught by cross contamination with small boy more times than we would care to mention. We check every ingredient, down to the oil things are fried in, but things still get through. Being able to isolate at least some of the allergens would have been great, especially when he was (even) smaller.

Tidy Trays come in pink or blue and to WIN a lovely Tidy Tray of your very own, simply leave a comment below telling us why you should win a TidyTray, and you could be our next lucky winner!

Competition closes at 12pm on Monday 7th February 2011. Now get commenting!

What if something bad happens? Win with MedicAlert

As you know, small boy has multiple allergies, with differing levels of reaction if he accidentally ingests something he shouldn’t. His most severe allergy, and the one to which he has instant and scary reactions is his peanut allergy, and because of this, he has to carry an epi-pen in case of anaphylaxis.

Small boy is only 5, so doesn’t really go anywhere without me or his Dad, except school, who have his picture and allergy information plastered in several places around the school. But what about if he was going somewhere without me? He is very good with his allergies and can tell people about them all, but what if he couldn’t speak, passed out or was choking?

Founded in 1956, with more than 50 years experience, The MedicAlert Foundation is the only registered charity that provides a life-saving identification system for people with hidden medical conditions and allergies.

As a MedicAlert Member, you wear a bracelet or necklet (known as an Emblem) engraved with a personal identification number, main medical condition(s) and an emergency telephone number. Each tailor made Emblem bears the internationally recognised symbol of the medical profession.

In an emergency, medical personnel have immediate access to vital information on the back of the MedicAlert disc. By phoning the emergency number, they can also gain further medical and personal information such as your name and address, doctor’s details, current drug therapy and next of kin details. A translation service is also available in more than 100 languages.

Currently supporting more than 300,000 members, MedicAlert Members include those with allergies, diabetes, epilepsy, cardiac conditions and a host of less common conditions.

Membership to the service – including a tailor-made Emblem starts at £19.95 plus the first year’s membership at £25- you can find out more and join by calling Freephone 0800 581 420 or visiting www.medicalert.org.uk

 

Exclusive Competition!

The lovely people at MedicAlert would like to offer Food Allergy Kitchen readers the chance to win an Annual Subscription to MedicAlert plus a stainless steel or wooden beaded emblem- a fantastic prize worth a whopping £44.95.

To enter, all you need to do is answer the following question and email your answer (please type MedicAlert in the subject line) to sam@samthewlis.co.uk by 12pm Friday 4th February 2011 and a winner will be chosen at random from the correct entries received.

In which year was MedicAlert founded?

Next week is Food Allergy Week

And we will be posting every day to try and help increase awareness and offer support to those affected by food allergies.

We also have some fab competitions and giveaways, from MedicAlert, Tidy Trays and more

See you next week!

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Cow’s milk allergies- less common than you think?

I came across this article today written by Greg Laden, as part of scienceblogs.com

Interesting reading for anyone who has ever thought their child may have a dairy allergy. Having said that, I never suspected small boy of having a dairy allergy, I just thought he threw up a lot. Oops.

 

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