Halloween is just around the corner. It's one of the most stressful events for allergy parents. Although there are a lot more companies today that manufacture their products in peanut free facilities, the same cannot be said about other allergens such as dairy and eggs. It's important to understand that there are no hard and fast rules about what is safe when it comes to Halloween candy. This is due to the fact that companies manufacture products at different facilities in different batches. What is safe in Canada may not be safe in the USA because the facilities may have different cleaning protocols for example. Also, what is safe for one child may not be safe for another. A peanut free chocolate bar is safe for someone with just a peanut allergy. However, a child with a severe dairy allergy could get violently ill after consuming a milk chocolate bar. So it's absolutely imperative to check the labels.
The golden rule of thumb when dealing with food allergies is to READ THE LABEL EVERY TIME. Do not take anyone's word that a candy is safe. The picture below illustrates some of the candy that I found that's dairy, egg and peanut free. That doesn't mean that it will be safe for your child. Depending on where you buy it from, it may be packaged in a different facility which could render it unsafe for someone with dairy, egg and peanut allergies. Check the labels on the packages. Check the manufacturer's websites. Take the extra step and call the 1-800 number on the package to find out if the candy is safe for your family.
Note that although the recent precautionary labelling regulations that require manufacturers to list allergens on the label are in effect, they do not guard against cross contamination. It is still completely voluntary to list information about cross contamination and manufacturers are under no obligation to do so. In addition, the type of candy you bought last year or even last month may have changed. Manufacturers can change ingredients without notice. Different sizes of the same candy are processed in different facilities so while individual size bags may be safe, jumbo size bags of the same candy may not be safe.
I believe that all families living with allergies should be able to safely enjoy trick or treating by planning ahead and taking some precautions. Here's an excellent article about Allergy-Safe Halloween Treating
written by Gina Clowes for Allergic Living
Have a safe and happy Halloween!
I know I haven't been updating as frequently as I should so I thought I'd just write a brief summary of what's been going on at school and how the allergy situation is being dealt with. This is not going to be a detailed post. As you can imagine, things are extremely hectic right now. Everyone is exhausted, tired and overworked. I'm stretched pretty thin these days and my schedule is on the verge of imploding any time now. I will be posting in more detail about the entire process of dealing with allergies in our school but that will come later, sometime next month. I want to give the process time to see how things will progress. In the meantime things are looking very good and the future looks promising. I'm starting to sound like a fortune cookie.
I've spoken about how much work teachers put in when my husband and I had a chance to visit the school last summer. Well, this year, I volunteered to help out during the first week of school and boy was it enlightening. I won't go into details, but what I will say is that I think the teachers in this school are doing an amazing job. It's not just Maya's classroom; it's really everyone. All the teachers I've come in contact with are amazing. They work hard and are very patient. Can you keep your sanity when you're asked 29 times "are we going outside?", over and over again? Because these teachers can and they do.
I also want to stress that keeping an allergic child safe at school is not a one man job and does not involve only the teacher. It's a group effort which really only works if everyone comes together to make it happen. There is a transition that takes place from the child to the parents in the home, to the school administration, to the teacher, to the students and so on and so forth. At age 5, it's unreasonable to expect children who do not live with allergies, to understand what it's like for the allergic child. Fortunately, in Maya's class the kids are doing really well with the hand washing and are getting better at it every day.
The process that is set in place to keep our daughter and other allergic children safe is put in place by a number of people. So far the school administration has been extremely accommodating. They are willing to work with us and their concern for Maya's safety is genuine. Specifically, the Vice Principal has been on board with the plan and done her best to make sure that our daughter remains safe at school. She has been very professional and courteous, has not made me feel like I'm a crazy over protective mother, and has kept me in the loop every step of the way. I say this because my family's experience with daycare has been miserable and I am quite surprised and pleased that the attitude I encountered at school is completely different. There is great emphasis on inclusion in this school - not just the students, but the parents as well.
It's very important to note, however, that even though there is a process set it place and certain protocols that are designed to keep allergic children safe, none of it will work if it's not properly implemented in the classroom. This is where the teacher's role comes into play. In our case, we are very lucky to have Maya's teacher. She has been great. She's a real trooper. The effort she puts in to make sure that the classroom is safe and allergen friendly is enormous. No doubt she's exhausted but she has not complained. She's been friendly, accommodating and has worked with us on every request to try and keep Maya safe. Simply put, she's amazing.
Overall, things have been going well. That's not to say that everything's perfect. Every new process has a learning curve and every new system needs to run for a while before all the kinks are ironed out. And we are okay with that. There have been challenges and some minor allergic reactions, but nothing that required the use of the Epipen. Given that we are dealing with more than just peanuts, but eggs and all forms of dairy, it is unreasonable to expect a completely safe environment like our home. In that light, we think that every day the Epipen is not used, is a successful day. The school staff are trying their best and doing a good job. So far, it's only been two weeks, but a promising two weeks. And although things are going well, you know as allergy parents that we can never let our guard down about allergies, can never just relax, and must always remain vigilant for the safety of our children.
Am I losing sleep over this? You bet! Is it as bad as I thought? Definitely not. Besides, at this point, I've accepted the fact that sleep is not required; it's optional. Even if I did sleep, you know I'll still sleep with one eye open, so what's the point?
If you see some poor zombified soul wandering the streets at night it'll be me.
Our little girl will be attending school for the very first time this year. It's a grueling process for most parents but for allergy moms (and dads; let's not forget the dads, they're pretty special too) it is especially nerve racking. Talk about sending your child into a minefield...
We are currently in the process of communicating with the school administration as well as the HRSB and IWK nurse, all for the benefit and safety of our little girl. I must say, once we figured out the proper channels and the right people got involved, everything just sort of clicked. The school, in my opinion, is doing a great job preparing for our daughter's enrollment. Between the principal, vice principal, teacher and other staff, they all seem to get it. I was apprehensive at first, but now both my husband and I feel confident that the school staff understands the severity of our daughter's allergies. In my opinion, they are doing a good job of addressing my concerns and are doing the best they can to accommodate our needs without disrupting the class or endangering our child. And although this may seem simple, let me assure you that it is quite complicated and involves a lot of effort on behalf of everyone - school administration, staff, health professionals and parents. The fact is, it takes an entire community to work together to keep allergic children safe.
For my husband and I, the determining factor was the orientation day. We knew that if that day went without incident, then there is hope that our daughter could safely attend school. Unlike her previous experience in daycare, where she suffered anaphylaxis and landed in the ER shortly after starting her first day, her orientation day at school could not have been more different. I think everything went very well. She did not have an allergic reaction - not even a small hive anywhere. It was a fabulous day for us and her. We learned that there is hope that she can have a normal childhood and interact with other kids. She learned that she can be safe at school; that she can make new friends, be able to learn and play despite having food allergies. For our little family, that's a huge step. After all, we are the family that does not go out to restaurants, the ones who do not get invited to birthdays parties, the ones who are skipped over for family barbecues and the ones who don't get surprise visitors. We often feel isolated, exiled and sometimes even forgotten. The fact that our daughter was able to attend orientation day without even a hitch speaks volumes about the preparedness of the school staff.
We are still in the process of meeting to hash out a few more details. I will post updates on our progress throughout the school year. My goal is to help other families who will be preparing for this next year.
Before I wrap up this post though, I think it's important to mention a few things. Aside from allergies, I think teachers do a lot. No, really. I used to be one of those people who heard other parents complain about their kid's teacher and how she doesn't do this or does too much of that, or whatever. And I used to think, oh yeah, how horrible, because a) I did not have a child in school so I had no idea what they were talking about, and b) I never actually saw a teacher in action (from a parent's perspective). In that regard, I feel that it is absolutely necessary to shed light on the fact that most teachers are saints (or at the very least superheroes). A couple of months ago, I had the opportunity to watch a grade Primary teacher in action, for almost an entire day. I thought Maya was a handful until I saw that one teacher wrangle 26 kids. It was an eye opening experience.
This is what we do, people. We drop off our kids bright and early and hand them off to their teacher, who takes care of them and teaches them all day then we collect them in the afternoon. We feed them, play with them for a couple of hours (or ask our spouse to do it because we're otherwise busy trying to keep ahead of the darn sink that magically fills up with cups and dishes) then bathe them and put them to bed. And then we oddly start complaining about how exhausted we are after herding our kids for 3 hours. Now, compare that to the brave soul who was herding 26 super energetic, clever, sneaky, little critters from 8 in the morning till 2:30 in the afternoon. All without a sheepdog! Do we really have any idea of the amount of energy and work involved in keeping 26 children not only learning but also happy and occupied. It requires supreme strength and patience. So, on top of all that, ask that teacher to also look out for your allergic child. It is a lot to ask which is why I am so appreciative of the effort they put in. Teachers really have their jobs cut out for them.
Stay tuned for updates about our situation.
In the meantime, imagine, for just a second, that you are left in a room with 26 children, all between the ages of 4 and 5, who have various needs; imagine what it must be like to keep them in line for just one hour. What would you have to do? Now, mulitiply that by 6 hours...
I am not that brave.
The winner is Ellen of www.foodallergyparent.com.Congratulations Ellen! Please contact me to receive your free brand new copy of The Bugybops.Thank you everyone for participating. The contest is now closed.
May is Food Allergy Awareness Month in Canada and is a very special time for those living with life threatening food allergies. To help increase awareness of anaphylaxis and in honour of Food Allergy Awareness Month, Allergymom is giving away a brand new copy of The Bugybops: Friends For All Time
, the sequel to The BugaBees: Friends with Food Allergies
, written by Amy Recob. The new book focuses on children who do not have food allergies themselves, but try to help make life just a little bit easier for those who do.
To participate in the contest, post an answer to the following question:What has made YOUR life easier when dealing with food allergies?
It could be anybody or anything that has made your life easier while dealing with food allergies - a book, an organization, a web site, a magazine, or even a person such as a health professional, teacher, or family member. Deadline is May 20, 2012.
The contest is open to US and Canadian residents only. The answer must be provided in the comments section of this blog post. Don't forget to include your email address (which will not be published)
, so Allergymom can contact you. The winner will be selected at random and announced on May 21, 2012.
One of the many things we found frustrating about daycare in general when we tried to enroll our daughter was the lack of any solid policy or even guideline with regards to food allergies and anaphylaxis. The daycare act briefly touched on the subject constituting that no child shall be discriminated against based on disability (though children with food allergies are not even considered disabled under the official definition of disability for many government organizations)
. The daycare act points out that food allergies exist and so daycares may have to accommodate children with food allergies, most likely in reference to peanut & tree nut allergies. In any case, I think daycares in this province are practically ignorant when it comes to other life threatening food allergies. That being said, there are a small number of them who acknowledge the severity of food allergies and refuse to take in children with severe allergies simply because they do not have the means to keep the child safe. I talked about all that in previous posts. So if you are still muddling through the daycare swamp, please feel free to take a look at my family's experience
. I warn you though; it's not pretty and some of the comments are just down right nasty. But you may find some of it helpful.
Moving on to school... perhaps one of the main differences between public school and daycare is the fact that public education is available to everyone. Every child has the right to an education in public school and every child has the right to be safe in school. Unlike daycare, public schools do not have paying customers. They may have strong PTAs and uncooperative parents (that could very easily make your life a living hell if they wish to)
but public schools cannot deny your child the right to an education. Daycare on the other hand, is allowed to tell you that staff "cannot handle your child" or that your child's presence "requires too much work and is inconveniencing everyone". Daycare can also tell you that they have no spot (even when you know the spot is still available because you just talked to a mom who said she got the call two days ago for the same spot, the very same one you got the call about three days ago to tell you it was gone)
and they can simply choose to accept a child based on his/her disability. They accept a child that comes with funding. It sounds like discrimination but unfortunately under the daycare act, it is not. They can choose a child with autism for example, because that child would most likely be getting funding from the province, whereas a child with food allergies is not. But I'm not going to ramble on about daycare. I've ranted about this subject till I turned blue in the face. Today I want to talk about schools, because I have good news.
Last year, something very important (and massive, and huge, and I have no idea why this was not publicized or hyped up)
happened in the public school arena. You probably already knew that the Halifax Regional School Board had long established an anaphylaxis policy, which was not as extensive as school boards in other provinces but at least it was a step in the right direction (or left, or backwards if you actually read the policy)
. The HRSB (aka Halifax Regional School Board. I'm so getting tired of typing the whole name so I'm just gonna use acronyms, k?)
adopted a life threatening allergies policy
that was basically divided into two small sections (and I mean small, as in short, vague, unfocused, non committal and shorter than the word 'short')
It included a policy section, which was one paragraph long and a procedure section that had several sub sections. Each of those sub sections outlined responsibilities of the school principal, classroom teacher, parents/guardians of the allergic child, and the allergic child. The part involving the staff was particularly lacking in identifying the responsibilities of the teacher given that the classroom teacher is possibly the one staff member who will be directly involved with your child and has the most contact with him/her throughout the day. Perhaps someone at the time thought they were doing us a favor by even considering to adopt a life threatening allergies policy. In my opinion, the old policy, in no way shape or form, addressed even the most minor of concerns to parents of food allergic children.
In March 2011, things changed dramatically, and to the better in my opinion. The old policy was revised and an updated version
was created. There's always room for improvement but still, the efforts put forth by the parties involved are commendable and appreciated. The changes to the policy are substantial and include a much more detailed description of the responsibilities of all the different parties involved as well as a clear reference to the policy framework. The entire document is comprised of two sections, policy and procedures, each outlined in further detail with additional sub sections discussing various aspects of the policy. Let me summarize them for you (because I'm that kind of person, giving and sharing in every way, in sickness and in health as they say)
This Policy section is just an intro but it does three very important things. It outlines the main principles of the policy, the framework it's based on, and last but not least, authorizes the development and implementation of procedures that may support the policy. The policy acknowledges that HRSB (and by extension all schools under their jurisdiction)
will maximize the safety of children with life threatening food allergies (i.e. you will no longer be given lame excuses such as "we can't handle your child")
. That acknowledgement by default recognizes that anaphylaxis is a serious condition that poses safety concerns if certain procedures are not put it place to protect the child.
The policy also highlights the holy trinity of allergies and anaphylaxis: information & awareness, avoidance, and emergency response. That means no more contemplating whether to call 911 or "just wait for it to pass" and also means that it is not unreasonable to request a one on one meeting with staff who will be dealing with your child to talk to them about your child's allergies and safety. It also means that the classroom teacher cannot force your child to participate in any activity involving food that may pose a risk to your child's safety. More importantly, it clearly identifies that managing anaphylaxis is a group effort that involves not only parents and caregivers of an allergic child but also school staff, other parents and the entire school community. This is something that was totally absent in the old policy, adopted in 1997. (After 13 years, someone decided that it was time... better late than never!)
The Procedures section is broken out into six different parts. Each outlines in detail the responsibilities of the respective parties and guidelines on what to do in the event of an allergic reaction. One of the key points in this section is the determination to review the entire policy every three years. That is a huge step forward. It indicates that there is an understanding that things change and what may have worked in the past may no longer work in the present. It gives the policy some flexibility to adjust to any number of changing conditions, something that was also missed in the old policy.
The meat of the policy though, is in the outlined responsibilities of all the parties involved. Those include the principal, school staff, parents of the allergic child, and the allergic child him/herself. The principal has the most autonomy and a broad range of authorization to do whatever he/she deems necessary to keep the allergic child safe within the school environment. That means that you no longer have to fight with the teacher to make the classroom food free. Decisions such as having all children eat in the cafeteria as opposed to the classroom for example, are things within the purview of the principal. What's new in the policy is the requirement to post names and pictures of students with an Anaphylaxis Emergency Plan attached to their file. The old policy required that the principal post "allergy alert forms" which is a very general and non specific term. That could be anything - a form with the student's name and allergy on it or just a piece of paper that says peanut allergy in classroom A. The new policy identifies that it is a plan specific to each child who has an allergy and that it must be readily available at the office and staff room in case of emergency. The principal also is required to notify the parents immediately if it is discovered that their child does not have his/her auto-injector.
The staff section was also expanded to include important matters such as ensuring that there are steps in place to protect an allergic child during classroom celebrations and events. Staff also are required to notify parents of the allergic child when classroom activities involve food. The policy also states that staff need to take into account food allergies when purchasing or using supplies and materials for class activities. That means that for a child who is severely allergic to milk, the classroom teacher is going to have to use something other than the famous goldfish crackers (doused in cheese)
to teach students how to count. Even if the child will not be eating the crackers, he/she will still not be able to touch them without risking an allergic reaction or touch any other students who handled the crackers (otherwise known as cross contamination in our fun filled world of allergies)
The section about parent and child responsibilities has also been expanded. Of note is the fact that the old policy stated that the allergic child must know how to use an auto-injector, without stipulating that children under 7 cannot be expected to use the injector properly even if, in theory, they know how. The new policy clearly points out that children under 7 are not expected to inject themselves and so the responsibility falls onto the staff.
In addition, the new policy includes an appendix that lists the definitions of several key words related to allergies and anaphylaxis, such as allergen, epinephrine and auto injector. This is a brilliant idea and it makes total sense. Given the sheer number of people who assume my daughter is simply "lactose intolerant" when I mention that she is allergic to dairy, why on earth would we expect them to know the meaning of the medical terms we commonly use in reference to allergies, especially when we've had to learn all those terms ourselves, out of necessity? Last but not least, the new policy also includes a copy of what the Emergency Anaphylaxis Plan looks like.
In short, the updated policy is more clear and precise about the functions and responsibilities of the parents, child and school. It may not seem like much because it's all on paper but for us, this is huge progress, one that we welcome with open arms.Click here to see the 1997 Life Threatening Allergies Policy (the old policy)Click here for the 2011 Life Threatening Allergies Policy (updated version)
You may also be interested in the Severe Medical Conditions Policy
, which forms part of the framework of the Updated Life Threatening Allergies Policy.
We are still embarking on this school journey/adventure/nightmare and in doing so we will be learning new things which I will make sure to pass along to you. In theory, the policy sounds very good. In practice, the functionality remains to be seen. I'm crossing my fingers and toes!
There is a very good reason why you need to read the label of every product you buy every time, even if you trust the company's labeling practices. The reason is because manufacturers can change the manufacturing process, packaging or facilities without alerting the consumer. Some manufacturers add an allergy warning if they know the product might be cross contaminated with an allergen. This is the case with Kraft Canada Foods, which is why I love to purchase their products, because I feel more comfortable with their labeling practices. It is because I trust their labeling that I read the label every time.
Checking the label is the best way to find out what is in the product or what it may have come in contact with. Reading every label every time is an essential part of living with food allergies. I admit, sometimes I slack off and don't read the label, especially when I'm short on time. I tend to just grab the box off the shelf and throw it in the cart. I know that my husband is going to double check after me but still - it's no excuse.
Today while I was grocery shopping I put two small cans of Fry's Cocoa Powder in the cart without looking twice. I knew that the big cans of Fry's Cocoa have an allergy warning on the label with regards to milk, eggs and nuts. However, the small cans are manufactured in a different facility. I had confirmed it by calling the company and was told that it is manufactured in a different facility that does not process dairy, eggs or nuts. But (and you know there's a but) that was last year. This year it looks like Fry's may have changed facilities. I called the manufacturer today. Currently, some of their small cans, just like the big cans, have an allergy warning on them. I saw it at the grocery store today. It clearly states on the label: MAY CONTAIN MILK. Some of the small containers are manufactured in a facility that does not process milk, eggs or nuts. But some are manufactured in a facility that processes those allergens. Therefore, it is essential to read the label of every can you pick up while grocery shopping as there is no way to know which batch/facility that particular can came from. Despite my disappointment, I have to give the manufacturer credit for labeling. They have done their part; it is my responsibility to read the label every time.
Needless to say, I returned the Fry's Cocoa Powder containers back to the shelf and picked up a different brand - one that is not potentially cross contaminated with dairy, eggs or nuts.
Lesson learned: READ EVERY LABEL EVERY TIME.
I was recently interviewed by the editor of Together Family Magazine, a publication distributed in daycares nationally. The article, "Living Allergic", focused on what it's like to live with food allergies and anaphylaxis. Overall, the interview went very well. It was nice to see our concerns are being taken seriously. I hope this creates more awareness about allergies and anaphylaxis in daycares across the country.
The latest development in our little family's life involves the discovery of some new allergies. Well, we had suspected but it has been confirmed. After living in a constant state of suffering and misery, we have finally figured out what my husband is allergic to: dustmites. It turns out those little buggers were responsible for his hacking cough, lack of breathing, stuffy nose and a head that feels twice as big.
On our second visit to T's allergist, I stepped outside for a minute to take my little girl to the bathroom. When we came back my poor husband had walked out of the doctor's office with one very swollen arm and a face as red as a beet. He was completely stuffed up, eyes watering and very miserable. The little marks on his arm read CRAB, LOBSTER, SHRIMP. I could see some serious hives next to all three, which later on spread and melded into one massive swollen area. It turns out he's allergic to shellfish - severely. What did the doctor call it... "profound reaction"!
He always suspected that he was allergic to lobster, but not shrimp or crab, and not like this. He had always said it was just a mild reaction; he'd get sick after eating lobster. However, after the latest allergy test we have seen the light. And to think, all those times we ate at seafood restaurants and ignored shellfish warnings on labels. Close calls! Despite this recent discovery, we are still living our life unaffected really. Maya does not even like the smell of seafood, and T never liked it anyway. I do not eat lobster or crab; never have, never will. However, I have a lot of respect for people who do. I lack the courage to put those things in my mouth. Crabs especially, very much resemble the facehuggers from Aliens. And lobsters, well, they look like a cockroach on steroids. The only thing I might miss is shrimp, but I'd miss my husband more if he had to spend half the night in the ER because of a reaction to shrimp.
Needless to say, after his profound reaction we promptly picked up an epipen. Ah, all is good in the world. Now, if only I could convince him to carry the darn thing.
Every year, Santa and his elves come to the mall. He sits on his big comfy chair, surrounded by Christmas trees and large stockings full of treats. Families gather around with their kids and people wait in line for hours to take pictures of their children sitting on Santa's lap, talking to him and receiving candy at the end of the visit. Our little girl loved this visit and looked forward to it every year. This year however, she was disappointed, and so were we.
We went to the mall as usual, and Maya was so excited to see Santa, but could not go anywhere near him. Upon arrival to the area, we noticed that there was food everywhere and chocolate smeared on the ground, pillars and the walls. Apparently, the elves were doling out candy and chocolates to the kids while they were waiting in line to visit Santa. Normally, candy was given after the visit so that parents would escort the kids away and the chocolates were eaten elsewhere. This year, kids were hopped up on candy before they even got to Santa. I'm not entirely sure if Santa and his elves came up with that brilliant idea or if upper management at the North Pole issued a corporate wide policy change. In any case, what ensued was a disappointing experience.
What would normally be an exciting time for most families, especially kids, was an absolute nightmare for us and treacherous for Maya. Navigating the mall was like walking into a minefield. Everywhere I turned there was ice cream, chocolate bars, coffee, etc. even in sitting areas that were far away from the food court. I was trying to formulate a thought in my head - how to tell Maya that she cannot visit with Santa this year, because his suit is covered in milk chocolate residue, and his chair has little hand prints of candy stains. It is sad that a child should have to understand this sort of thing at an early age but there was just no way I could put a positive spin on this one. Honey, Santa is contaminated and we can't approach him without hazardous materials suits.
As I stood in front of Santa's house, held Maya's little hand and tried to absorb the magnitude of the danger I had just exposed my child to, I spotted an elf heading our way. But instead of talking to me, he simply smiled at Maya and pulled out a box of Smarties chocolates from the bag. Innocently, Maya put out her hand to grab the seemingly harmless gift and was startled by the loud "NO!" her father and I uttered in the same breath. The whole incident took less than a second. I was holding her hand, and using my other hand to keep kids away from her (with their chocolate covered faces and hands) as well as keep Maya from touching the walls that were also covered in smears of chocolates and coffee cups parked at the corners. In the same moment, my husband dove in to yank the chocolate out of her hand and remind her that she cannot have those because she is allergic to milk. I turned around to tell the elf that she is allergic and cannot have those. We proceeded to walk away when we noticed the elf behind us again and this time he pulled out a candy cane from the bag and gave it to Maya. Again, I took it out of her hand, as she cried, and I put it away and offered her a different kind of candy that is safe while her father tried to console her.
Santa, I know that this time of year you're probably busy getting stuck in chimneys and whatnot but I'm not at all impressed with the new policy, namely giving candy to kids before their visit. I don't want to be "shoulding" all over you but you "should" have considered at the very least, those who are allergic to nuts. And let's not even talk about the logistics of that decision and the repercussions. For example, isn't it a waste of financial resources to give all the kids candy without doing the necessary research first. There is insufficient evidence to prove that all those kids were nice. I'm certain that a small portion of them were naughty and deserved nothing but reindeer droppings (or coal). Not to mention, the lack of understanding we received from your elves (and other parents who rolled their eyes at me when I stated that Maya is allergic - those parents should be receiving droppings as well, perhaps even bear droppings). Even after I told the elf that she was allergic, he proceeded to give her something else that she could be allergic to. He just assumed that she is allergic to peanuts (and she is, but she's also deathly allergic to dairy and eggs) when he could have asked what her allergies are before giving her anything else.
I'm not asking for much, Santa, just for your staff to be a little bit understanding and for upper management to be a little more creative. Santa, why give food at all? Wouldn't a little toy trinket be safer and better for everyone involved? Or simply stickers, Santa; everyone loves stickers, even adults love stickers (when they don't have to peel them off the walls, floors, sinks, and other important areas).
Santa, I have been a loyal customer (and fan) of yours for the past 30 years and I feel that this latest incident has caused me to question your motives and the entire validity of Christmas. Before making any more policy changes, please take into account all your customers, not just a portion of them. My little girl is starting to doubt your existence (she's too young I know, but she's also quite clever - and your latest stunt did not help) and is not sure if you deserve a plate of cookies this year. Please pass my concerns onto the North Pole management team. Thank you for your cooperation and I look forward to seeing you soon with plenty of toys and no food.
Twilight Zone Central
Someone visited my site today and asked a question about cake decorations. I'm compelled to share the information I've collected because so many people have asked the same question and because that's just the type of person I am... collect and distribute, fast and efficient, overworked and underappreciated, but that's a story for another time. Right now we need to focus on those sprinkles. The ones I've been using for the past two years are made by McCormick Canada and are called Cake Mate.
After extensive research, the only brand that seems to be safe for dairy, egg, peanut, and tree nut allergies is Cake Mate. And don't even ask about the conversation I had with Wilton and the overly intelligent service rep who only answered each question after I repeated it twice; suffice to say, Wilton cake decorations are not safe. Okay, back to Cake Mate. Please be advised, Cake Mate made by Signature Brands in the USA is NOT safe. Some of their products contain nuts and eggs. I am not sure how they label their products. However, Cake Mate made by McCormick Canada is safe. A quick phone call this afternoon confirmed that they are still manufacturing their cake decorations, sprinkles and icings in a facility that is completely peanut and tree nut free. Also, eggs and dairy are not even processed on the same lines. In addition, McCormick Canada lists allergens on their products. Some of the Cake Mate decorations have egg allergy warning on them, but according to the McCormick Canada rep they are processed in an entirely different facility. So just make sure that the version of Cake Mate you buy, lists McCormick Canada on the packaging. It will also list Signature Brands because both marks are used under licence, but if it lists only Signature without McCormick, then you may want to call Signature to confirm that the product is safe.
Here is the information for anyone wishing to call McCormick Canada and confirm allergen listing: 1-800-265-2600. Oh and if you get conflicting information please let me know. We're all in this together.
Good luck and happy decorating.
-- Allergy Mom out --