Saturday, November 08, 2008

Accommodations May Not Be Enough for Peanut Allergy

I was reading Peanut Free Mama and she excerpted and linked an excellent post on Rocks In My Dryer. The author of the post has her own blog, Gravity of Motion. Her post expresses a lot of my concerns and feelings.

Jane Anne addresses a concern I've had recently when she writes:

I appreciate efforts by friends and family to keep David safe. There are times when I know that people have tried to avoid peanut products but I still don’t feel comfortable letting David eat the food. Without knowing the ingredients first-hand, I cannot trust that an item does not contain nuts or contain a product that has a peanut warning. I am gracious and appreciative but I cannot take any chances.

I've recently come to realize that the sincere accomodations made for my daughter may not be enough - especially in the case of cake or other baked goods. For instance, I recently learned (by reading the bag) that Nestle Toll House Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels are made in a facility that also processes peanuts. My daughter can't have them, it's not worth the risk. Hershey's also makes semi-sweet chips and they say "In instances where we have a concern about possible crossover by an allergen we take the added precaution of including an allergy information statement on the label." Well, I'm not sure I'm willing to take that risk and common sense tells me that they also make the Reese's Peanut Butter chips, so there could be a potential mistake on the line or an accidental failure to label (FAAN sends allergy alerts all the time for accidental content, I haven't seen one for Hershey's but I see it as a potential risk that is not worth it given the severity of my daughter's allergy. Other moms might make a different decision). So, we'll have to pass on anything with chocolate chips. I recently purchased several packages of chocolate chips from Vermont Nut-Free because of this concern but I certainly don't expect anyone else to go to that level of planning, expense, or trouble.

I'm also aware that until I became aware of my daughter's allergies (and for some time even after that), I was clueless about cross-contamination issues. I've read plenty of stories since then about knives that were wiped clean after making peanut butter sandwiches and then later used to cut apart "peanut-free" items (or dipped into jelly jars). It can happen, but I'm not sure a parent whose child doesn't have food allergies would even think of it (I wouldn't have). My daughter's last allergic reaction (which landed her in the ER for several hours) was to a bakery cookie. So even if I'm told that a baked good contains no peanuts, I'm still probably not going to allow my daughter to eat it.

I share Jane Anne's plea as she writes:

Please be understanding if you try to make something allergen free and the allergic person is still not comfortable eating the item. Above all, an allergic person has to be safe and cannot take risks.

I want you to understand that we do not want to inconvenience anyone; we only want to protect our child.

My thoughts exactly. I don't want to insult anyone, but it boils down to the simplicity of NOT eating an item verses risking that my daughter will have an anaphylatic reaction. It might seem sad that she cannot partake, but it would be much sadder for her to have to leave the party, vomitting constantly, get a shot in the leg, and go to the ER, where she will have to stay for 4 hours so they can be sure her reaction is not biphasic (and that's the best case scenario on her reaction. I've read enough worst case scenarios to not want to discuss it).

Dr. Wood shares his own story about breaking his "no cookie rule" which resulted in a severe allergic reaction.

1 comment:

Jane Anne said...

Thank you for your words. It has been so encouraging to see the response to my post. It is also encouraging to know that I am not alone in my struggles and feelings.

Another Chocolate Chip option is Guittard Chocolate chips. They sell them at Safeway and their website states their facility is peanut free.