hospital visit this morning

Lucas' breathing has been very rapid, shallow, and laboured since yesterday. he didn't sleep well either, coughing all night and in some level of discomfort/distress even with his asthma inhaler every 4 hours. (by extension, we didn't sleep well either but you surely didn't come here for news about us.) Arrived at Carleton Place & District Hospital around 8am, and within 30 minutes we were triaged, registered, seen, discharged, and on our way to the pharmacy with a prescription. (We skipped the normally-free first dose on-site, since the hospital pharmacist couldn't confirm the ingredients.)

Anyway, turned out Lucas' breathing difficulty was/is due to asthma, possibly triggered by a food allergy (either the Harveys fries (see earlier post) or, less conveniently, something we're still feeding him at home), compounded by a cold virus and physical activity in cold weather. Oral steroids are supposed to be pretty effective. If not, it might also be something called RSV - some respiratory virus. If it's that, it might put our Disney plans at risk, which we're not willing to contemplate yet.

How's he doing now? He's in fine spirits and ate supper with his regular gusto tonight. The little comedian even discovered that he can call mom from downstairs by simply speaking through the baby monitor... we'll see where that goes!

coconut oil

Submitted to a coconut oil importer/distributor:
Is your 100% pure coconut oil (250mL / 8.5fl.oz, UPC 66033 70041) suitable for consumption by somebody with the following allergies:
-peanut (even trace amounts);
-lamb; and
I understand the ingredients are 100% coconut oil; I just want to know if there might be any contamination from other products in the facility (e.g., airborne peanut dust or from shared processing equipment)?
PS. Response received a few days later was satisfactory. So far so good.


Harveys inquiry

we gave lucas a few fries from harveys yesterday. not only did I find them stale, they caused an allergic reaction (must have been a small dose because it only triggered eczema, cramps (which appeared to be quite painful), and uhm, "loose" stools.

I later gave Harveys.ca the following feedback:
Thank you for making your Allergy Guide readily available online and in-store. As the parent of an active 2-year old with multiple food allergies, allow me to request an improvement: PLEASE give the "may contain" warnings AS MUCH VISIBILITY as the regular warnings - the tiny asterisk directing us to the minuscule statement that states "All fried foods may contain one or all of the following: milk, soy, wheat and fish" just isn't clear enough when you are trying to order and pay while looking after the kid in a crowded food court.
Thankfully we noticed the warning after he'd had only three or four fries. His only reaction was an eczema flare-up within minutes, followed by painful cramping and diarrhea a few hours later. He's had a runny nose all day today and tonight he is still wheezing a bit from the congestion.

I understand your need for efficiency in the kitchens, but your cross-contamination carelessness forces me to take my family elsewhere.

With regrets,
A former patron.


Butterball boneless turkey breast

Product: Butterball boneless turkey breast
Contacted: http://www.butterball.ca/english/products.html#roasts
Phone Number printed? NO

Reason: suspect ingredients (artificial flavour, spice)
Website information: "ALLERGEN ALERT: CONTAINS SOY"

Conclusion: NOT SAFE, give away.

Mastro Capicollo

Product: Mastro Capicollo
Contacted: Santa Maria Foods Corp.
Telephone: 800-663-8695
Number printed? NO

Reason: suspect ingredient ("spices") and no "may contain" statement.
Spoke to Receptionist -> Cust.Svc -> QA dept
Initial response: "QA Mgr will c/b"
Final respose: (QA, not the mgr) "None of the allergens are in the added ingredients, but capicollo is processed in the same facility as pistachios (in the mortadella) and dairy (they are isolated so there isn't any cross-contamination)."

Separate ventilation system? No
Separate equipment? Yes, isolated (in other part of plant).

Conclusion: will proceed with caution.


allergist visit no.2

For a while now we were suspecting Lucas was allergic to onions and garlic - he'd break into hives, and/or scratch his neck, and/or his eyes would puff, and/or he'd throw up. We stopped all those things completely for a week, and he was great! Then we challenged him with onion/garlic soup, and he stayed great. Which is good, but we still didn't know what he was reacting to, so we went to the allergist again today.
He confirmed very highly allergic to EGGS and DAIRY, and not onions or garlic. He also noted a medium reaction to legumes. His conclusion? Most (if not all) the reactions were most probably due to hidden dairy and/or egg ingredients, or other hidden sources such as contamination on food preparation surfaces and equipment.
Oh and apparently Kosher certification is NOT a reliable indicator for hidden allergens.
It's difficult for us to diagnose allergies because it is a hit-and-miss process: a combination of history, skin tests and blood tests, none of which is highly reliable. What makes it even more difficult for us is that "his system is so primed for an allergic response he might react even when there is no trigger at all."


allergies - confirmed

Lucas was seen by an allergist today. His arms did indeed light up like a xmas tree.
TOTALLY AVOID PEANUTS. ANAPHYLAXIS IS POSSIBLE. USE EPIPEN AT FIRST SIGN OF ANY ALLERGIC REACTION ON EATING OR SUSPECTED EATING, EVEN IF REACTION IS ONLY MINOR, AND PROCEED IMMEDIATELY TO NEAREST HOSPITAL. AVOID ALL FOODS LABELLED "MAY CONTAIN (TRACES OF) PEANUTS" and "PROCESSED IN A PLANT THAT ALSO PROCESSES PEANUTS." Contaminated foods are just as dangerous: this could be as innocent as jam jars if a knife was ever used in the PB jar, PB cookie crumbs in an old cookie tin, PB caked onto a utensil after the dishwasher, etc.

TOTALLY AVOID ALL DAIRY, EGG YOLK, EGG WHITE, GELATIN, JELLO, SOY, LAMB, and prolonged contact with CATS. ANAPHYLAXIS IS LESS LIKELY, BUT POSSIBLE depending on amount eaten. Use Benadryl if a minor allergic reaction happens on eating these foods accidentally. USE EPIPEN IF THE REACTION WORSENS OR IS SEVERE (e.g., body hives, facial swelling, trouble breathing, etc) and proceed to nearest hospital.

Avoid these foods as a precaution: NUTS, SHELLFISH, FISH.

These foods are unlikely to cause an allergic reaction, but if it occurs, stop the food: Flax, sesame and other seeds, beef, veal, wheat, barley, canned tuna, canned salmon, soy oil, soy lecithin, and soy sauce.

So, at least now we know (exactly) what we're dealing with, and we also know what we don't have to deal with: strawberries, capsicum (green peppers), corn and beef are all ok, as are dogs and rabbits. Nothing to report on environmental issues, like dust mites, spores and such either.

Luckily, there are a few decent recipe sites like http://www.fastq.com/%7Ejbpratt/recipes/allergiesintol/desserts.html that can help us find safe alternatives to everyday foods. It'll be hard on us though, when he'll ask why he can't have what other kids are all having...


Since we stopped giving him milk and soy products, his eczema has cleared up completely. There are other foods that we have to be very careful with, though, since he broke out in hives all over after a vaccine (which contained albumen, so we are assuming he's severely allergic to eggs) and had an anaphylactic reaction after another vaccine (which was supposed to be non-allergenic). We've also completely refrained from introducing any wheat products, honey and all peanuts/tree nuts, just in case. You can imagine that doing the groceries is a little challenging, but we found some interesting everything-free things today. Wouldn't you know it, though, he started getting hives and vomited a pile of mucous, which he hasn't had since we figured out what he was allergic to. So, either he's allergic to something previously considered safe, or he accidentally ingested something "bad" (either from the floor or from our hands contaminated with something). Great. Luckily it was a mild reaction, because we have an allergist appointment tomorrow and can't give him any antihistamine for 48h beforehand so the tests can work. I'm half expecting Lucas to light up like a xmas tree after the testing. Sigh. At least we'll have a better idea.