Talking Allergies

Labels and "traces of nuts"
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Author:  Lily's Mom [ Sun Jun 22, 2008 8:41 pm ]
Post subject:  Labels and "traces of nuts"

Hi there- my husband and I have just been given the diagnoses that our 2yr old has a moderate to severe peanut allergy- she has not been tested for anything else yet and seems to be free and clear of other food allergies based on symptoms only. Our confusion comes from the fact that she has eaten "items that may contain traces of peanuts" since she started eating with no reaction. She has had two skin type reactions- once from peanut butter and once from contact-we think-it was at daycare when it happened. Before her diagnoses we had also shared Vietnamese food containing peanuts with no reaction. Is it possible to have a topical allergy only or is she at risk for the reaction getting worse with every exposure. We are from a small community and the professional is only available every three months. Our questions are building up and this seems like a great resource. Thank you so much. Kelly and Kevin

Author:  ~Lisa~ [ Sun Jun 22, 2008 9:28 pm ]
Post subject: 

Hmmm, was her very first reaction from touching peanuts or eating them? Has she ever had a reaction by eating them? My instinct is telling me that because it's peanuts that's involved it would be adviseable not to eat them since she reacts simply by touching them. Hard to say because my first reaction at 3 was from eating peanut butter and that's how we knew. What kind of tests did you do?
As for the labelling...we are working on it!! Companies are getting away with a lot, especially with their "may contain" messages and the Allergic Living community and many others are sending letters to Stephen Harper to demand a change in labelling laws.

Author:  Lily's Mom [ Mon Jun 23, 2008 7:14 am ]
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Thanks for the reply and we are looking forward to hearing from more people- Okay here is the whole story...when she was 1.5 years I gave have the marshmallows from that christmas treat with the peanut butter and marshmallows- no a few days later she had peanut butter on toast for breakfast, thinking we were in the clear... she ended up with hives on her chin. So I asked for the referral to the allergist and we waited. (Took 6 months to get in) Now the second reaction was NOT from eating because we had said NO peanuts until the test. But the othe kids at daycare had some peanut butter, so it may have been on a surface or a face cloth or someone's hands. That reaction was also hives and her eye swell a bit...only one side of her face so it seems it was a contact type reaction. As for the labels, is it just companies covering ther butts or do these" may contain traces of" items actually have peanuts in them? Because like I said before, she has been eating that stuff since the start- we weren't label savy before her test and now it seems ridiculous to cut everything out that she has been enjoying all along. Case in point- raisins! She loves them and eats them almost daily. My husband read the label yesterday and they"may contain". Where so you stop?? Thanks again. Kelly

Author:  ~Lisa~ [ Mon Jun 23, 2008 10:04 am ]
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Ok so from what you are saying the daycare reaction could have been because she put her hand in her mouth after having touched another child's hand or a toy that had been contaminated by peanut butter hands. I say this because she has had a reaction from eating it, not just touching. Also, I think that she might not have reacted the first time because there is something called sensitization where your body gets used to something, or not, the first time you eat it and the next time you eat it is when you might react. I guess not everyone is like this since I reacted the very first time I ever ate peanut butter but maybe this was the case for your daughter. But definitely, get more opinions. Will you be going for more tests or has the allergist already advised you to steer clear? Do you have an epi pen?
As for what to stay away from while you sort this all out, the "may contains" are a big part of my personal frustration and I have spent so much time calling companies when wanting to find out if something was safe or not. Many companies abuse the use of precautionary labelling and do it just to save themselves from a possible lawsuit even though the risk may not even be there. Unfortunately, some companies use it correctly and put it on their labels when there is a risk.
For example, I called an ice cream company a few weeks ago and they said that they wash down their machines thoroughly in between batches and they are sanitzed but they put the label on because they are worried about getting in trouble. In this case, I would eat the product, but still being sure to do a "taste test" first before eating a big bowl. In general, I ate "may contains" for a while until I learned that some companies do put them on because there is no washing in between or some other case where there is risk of greater contamination.
It's very personal, especially depending on the severity of each person's reaction. Recently I have been staying away from them unless I call the company. Perhaps this is something you may want to consider, at least for her favorite foods.
Like I said, the allergy community is really frustrated with the whole labelling issue and we are working on getting an official law passed to protect us. If you are up to it, click on the pink balloon at the top of the page and then click on the blue box that says "food allergen label law, help get it now", and send in a letter.
Anyways, hope this helped a little. I'm sure more people will be posting soon with some other interesting things to say!

Author:  AnnaMarie [ Mon Jun 23, 2008 10:46 am ]
Post subject: 

Lily's Mom wrote:
As for the labels, is it just companies covering ther butts or do these" may contain traces of" items actually have peanuts in them? Because like I said before, she has been eating that stuff since the start- we weren't label savy before her test and now it seems ridiculous to cut everything out that she has been enjoying all along. Case in point- raisins! She loves them and eats them almost daily. My husband read the label yesterday and they"may contain". Where so you stop?? Thanks again. Kelly

They may contain -- or they may not.

A company makes several products on the same machinery. One of those products has peanuts in it. They do a bit of a clean -- but not enough to really remove those oily proteins. Then they run another product -- maybe those raisins. The first *run* of those raisins picks up any remaining peanut oil and therefore contain peanut protein. Then, the machine no longer has the protein, and the next run of raisins is safe.

Which run is your package from?

Are you in Canada? There are safe raisins here -- Jaffa (also sold under other names). In fact, most products there are safe alternatives if peanut/nut is the only thing you have to avoid.

Author:  Lily's Mom [ Mon Jun 23, 2008 4:08 pm ]
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thanks so much ladies-I've been on the computer several times looking for a response-support is good. We do have an epi-pen- hopefully we will never need it. The allergist said he would test her for other allergies before school, but now that the shock has worn off, I will be requesting the test sooner. My husband also wants a controlled challenge test because she has been in contact with no reaction- that scares me a little, but then we would know for sure. The whole thing is overwhelming- I don't want her in a bubble but it is hard not to overreact- I still need to find my balance and my comfort zone- it get easier I know. I have a question- the epi pen is a temporary fix- the instructions say call 911 or go to hospital. Then what happens- what is administered at the hospital- just curious. Thanks Kelly

Author:  AnnaMarie [ Mon Jun 23, 2008 4:29 pm ]
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There are several reasons why it is best to go directly to the hospital. They can monitor your blood pressure. People can see if someone is having difficulty breathing, or is swelling up -- but a sudden drop in blood pressure is not always so obvious.

The shot of epi usually lasts about 20 minutes. If a second shot is needed, it's better to be in the hospital to get it. If you give two shots, the paramedics will not give a third, so don't wait. In the hospital they will often also give a steroid. Sorry, I don't really understand this -- but it makes the epi work better (or faster?). In my case, they also gave me a shot of benedryl.

Epinephrine (the medicine in the epi-pen) is similar to adrenalin. In an allergic reaction your body naturally produces adrenalin, but it doesn't always produce enough. Other times when your body produces adrenalin is when you do a lot of exercise (running) or when you are really scared. When your body produces a lot of adrenalin, your heart beats faster -- the same can happen when you get a shot of epinephrine. So, it is important to get to the hospital so they can monitor your heart. Don't panic about that though. A normal healthy heart will not be harmed by a shot of epinephrine.


Word of advice: If you are alone with your child call 911 -- do not drive your daughter yourself. If she's having a reaction you cannot safely drive a car and watch her at the same time. The last thing you need is to be in an accident at a time like that.

Author:  gem [ Mon Jun 23, 2008 6:46 pm ]
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Hi Lilly's Mom,

We just went through a similar experience 2.5 years ago. My daughter ate all kinds of nuts from about 18 months on. Then one day when she was just over 2 she anaphylaxed on a nut. We had her tested and she was positve to a few nuts but not all. A few months ago, we had our return visit to re-test ( 2 years after initial diagnosis). She tested positive to all nuts AND peanuts ( which she has been eating without incident until about 6 months ago).

I do not give her anything that says "may contain" as she has anaphylaxed on a "may contain" item she had been eating without incident for a few years.

Author:  katec [ Tue Jun 24, 2008 5:11 pm ]
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There was a study done on products with the may contain label. The results were listed in one of the Anaphylaxis newsletters. I don't have time to look it up now but there were a number of products that did contain traces when the label was present. So eating foods with this label is like spinning a roulette wheel in my opinion. I am surprised that the doctor said moderate to severe. Dr. Milton Gold from Sick Kids said that all people diagnosed with a peanut allergy should consider it as severe since there is no way to predict reactions.

Author:  paige H [ Wed Jun 25, 2008 4:52 pm ]
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I had a very bad reaction when I was PG and the hospital gave me two shots of adrenalin... I was worried for the baby (20 weeks gestation) but had no choice they told me that the babies heart would probably beat a little harder. I can only say when you get all the meds while you are having a reaction to that degree nothing feels better. In an instant you feel like things will be O.K.

My experience with may contain is that years ago they never put it on any pkgs and the ing. listed on the pkg. would all check out. One bite in and I could tell no way something is in here that I am allergic to no doubt. At least it is a bit of a warning, though I agree it does seem to be on many products. I do not think that when these one bite happenings took place I always had hives to show for it but the feeling in my mouth and the shiver in my body was my evidence. It is very rare for me to eat anything that is may contain... I find most Items I want I can find a comparable product that I can eat.
Lily's mom I hope you get answers sooner that later, but It sounds like you will have info. soon. You have come to a great spot to get lots of info....

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