Dr Oetker Dr Schmoetker

SINCE cake-making unexpectedly entered my culinary lexicon with the horrifying realisation I couldn’t just go out and buy one, I’ve relied happily on Dr Oetker for icing. The supermarket own brand fondants all seem to be ‘may contain nuts’ so it was a blessed relief to have a ready-to-roll  I could easily track down in most stores.

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Until now. If you’ve come across Dr Oetker Regal-Ice lately you will no doubt have noticed ‘may contain nuts’ has arrived there, too. All of a sudden I’ve realised we have another birthday on the horizon and I need to find out exactly what the risk is – and possibly hunt me down a safe alternative elsewhere. Continue reading “Dr Oetker Dr Schmoetker”

Top 10 allergy friendly places to eat (2014)

IMG_9028SO, here it is – my run-down of our top allergy friendly meals out in 2014. A bit late, but timely in the aftermath of the ‘100 chefs rant against EU allergy laws’ thing. I’ve been tweeting my thoughts on this for a week, and am frankly bored of the moaning. Compelling caterers to declare which allergens are in their dishes doesn’t make anywhere more able, or likely, to cater for us, but it’s a first step on the road to greater understanding. It means that at least we have the right to ask, and to be told. I think that’s fair enough.

Anyway, enough about that. From never having the confidence to allow anyone bar family to cook for Sidney, in this past year we’ve managed to find a clutch of places happy, willing and able to cater for his multiple allergies. They are living proof that it is possible and, for that, I love them longtime.

So, in no particular order, here we go: Continue reading “Top 10 allergy friendly places to eat (2014)”

Eating out with allergies: the ‘rules’

IMG_1611THERE I WAS, poised to press ‘publish’ on my next post: our top 10 allergy friendly places to eat from 2014. Finding safe spots is never easy, but over the past year we’ve clocked up a few favourites.

Then I realised I should probably preface this post with The Rules. They are the steps we take, and the key things we consider, whenever we eat out. I’m sure others will have more to add, but this is simply how we go about things. Here goes:

* I always ring and email in advance to check the manager and chef are aware, and in some cases we pre-order our meal. It starts as a sussing-out call – do they sound as if they know what they’re doing? If not, forget it. If they do, I’ll go into greater detail, stress that we need the food to be prepped free from cross-contamination, and find out what dishes are likely to be safe for Sidney to eat. I’ll usually summarise the allergies and what we’ve mutually agreed in an email before our booking date. If nothing else, it’s only fair to give a place advance warning where possible and to explain fully what we’re after. Continue reading “Eating out with allergies: the ‘rules’”

Preventing allergies – a Twitter essay

Unknown-1RIGHT NOW, as I type, many of the world’s top and absolutely bestest allergists and allergy experts are gathered in Houston for the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology annual meeting. Later tonight, the UK’s Professor Gideon Lack will reveal the data from the long-awaited LEAP (Learning Early About Peanut Allergy) study into how best to prevent peanut allergy in young children.

In the run-up, I have been following the tweets from the great and the good gathered at the conference and the most amazingly informative string of posts has just come through from Canadian allergist Dr David Fischer. He calls it a Twitter essay on LEAP. Genius, and I felt it was worth sharing so I’ve pasted it below. (If you want to follow Dr Fischer on Twitter he’s @IgECPD and if you want to follow the conference tweets search the hashtag #AAAAI15.)

‘How we got to the leap study and what’s at stake’: A Twitter Essay by David Fischer, MD

1. There are 2 known ways of inducing tolerance (ie preventing allergy) in children: high zone tolerance and low zone tolerance

2. The concept of low zone tolerance is that if you’re not exposed to something you can’t become sensitized/allergic to it

3. Concept explains why North Americans become allergic to animals they’re exposed to (cats/dogs) but not, say, Tasmanian Devils 

4. Original theory behind strict avoidance of food allergy introduction until older ages in children based on low dose tolerance theory

5. High zone tolerance is when large early exposures induce tolerance. This is the plan of the LEAP study

6. The problem with the low zone tolerance idea in the West is that the strict avoidance of these foods is impossible 

7. Most patients reacting to peanut have with 1st exposure, but it’s not their 1st. Traces in packaged food & skin exposure in homes problem

8. A few Physician groups put out warnings based on Strict Avoidance/Delayed Introduction. That timed with increase in food allergy rate

9. These Guidelines were reversed years ago, allowing for earlier introduction of foods to children…with the hope of it being preventative

10. An Aussie study has already shown that introducing cooked egg between 4-6 months of age appears to prevent sensitization to egg 

11. Dr Lack (LEAP study author) has already noted that the rate of peanut allergy in Israel (where peanut is 1 of the 1st foods) is lower

12. Lack feels it’s a race against time to induce oral tolerance to peanut before intermittent trace exposures (esp skin) induce allergy

13. What we find out today is whether we can literally PREVENT peanut allergies through early peanut introduction. Stay tuned

Note: I asked him if he would mind clarifying ‘intermittent’ in this context and he replied: “From a food perspective I would mean small exposures such as feeding a child foods that have ‘traces of nuts’ instead of nuts.”

So there you have it. Now waiting on that LEAP* data.

The LEAP trial took 640 children aged between four months and 11 months of age who were identified as high risk for peanut allergy (based on an existing egg allergy and/or severe eczema). They were randomly split into two groups – consumption or avoidance. Those in the consumption group were to consume a peanut-containing snack with three or more meals per week; those in the avoidance group were not to ingest peanut-containing foods, both until the age of five. Here is more on LEAP from the BSACI and the Anaphylaxis Campaign.

**UPDATE** And here we have it – feeding peanuts to young infants with heightened allergy risk dramatically reduces the odds that a peanut allergy will develop. Follow the links to the study findings in the New England Journal of Medicine, an article in the New England Journal of Medicine blog here, the Allergic Living report here and The Telegraph here. Worth noting that Professor Lack has stressed that infants showing early signs of peanut allergy (those with skin prick test reactions greater than 4mm) were excluded from the study and effects of peanut consumption in this group remain unknown. But this is properly groundbreaking stuff…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brave new world & breadsticks

DSC_0456NEWS that a posho West End restaurant has been forced to close its doors wouldn’t usually fill me with glumness. But, oh, how I am bemoaning the loss – temporary or not – of Locanda Locatelli.

The celebrated Portman Square hangout has been left homeless following a gas explosion in the five-star Hyatt Regency Churchill hotel that houses it.

And now its chef-patron, Giorgio Locatelli, says he may abandon the site and try to re-open elsewhere.

So why my gloom? Well, because a visit to Locanda Locatelli last year marked the beginning of a brave new world for us as a family. It’s where we ate our first meal out, fully catered for Sidney. Continue reading “Brave new world & breadsticks”