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PostPosted: Tue Apr 27, 2010 12:52 pm 
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Joined: Mon Sep 05, 2005 12:53 am
Posts: 373
Location: Alberta
This Saturday's is our big baseball season Opening Day, and traditionally we have a "Cake Walk", where each family donates a baked good. In the past, some home-baked goods have been labelled with all ingredients, by well-meaning parents who are trying to accomodate kids with allergies.

So the co-ordinator of the whole thing sends out an e-mail to team managers (me) to communicate to the families that donated food should be "allergy aware". I have no idea what she means by this, so I send her this e-mail:

I'm managing 2 teams for this Saturday, and wondering what you mean by "allergy aware" baked goods. We're having team meetings in the next few days, so I want to be prepared to handle that one. Considering priority allergens include milk, egg, tree nut, peanut, soy, wheat & sesame, I'm not sure there is anything that will be considered "allergy aware". It might be best just to declare all items off-limits for children with allergies, unless they consume the item that their own parent contributes. While most parents have the best of intentions, there's just no way to guarantee that all surfaces used to prepare the food is free from cross-contamination, nor can people guarantee that all ingredients were free from "may contain" warnings. (Can you guess that one of my kids has anaphylactic food allergies??!! And I guarantee that he won't be able to eat a single thing on that table!) Even if it were just "nut-free", it's still much to dangerous to trust. Believe me, we've made that mistake ... and learned that lesson the hard way. I'd hate for a child to have a reaction...

I get this reply this morning, and it appears I have offended...

The 'allergy aware' comment was intended to make allergies a consideration (ie label item, nut free,...) for parents bringing baked goods to Opening Day. There is always the balance to strike for safety of those that have allergies and those bringing baking. Just trying to do our best.

This woman also happens to be a local School Board Trustee, and wields alot of power. I'm disappointed in her reply, so I sent this back to her this moning:

I'm sorry if my message came off in a negative way, that wasn't my intention. Believe me - we have several mutual friends who would assure you of that!

I'm actually the local trainer for the AAIA (Allergy/Asthma Information Association), so when someone asks the AAIA for help, I'm the person who goes into the schools / community groups etc to do the teaching. The AAIA is the group that helped the Ministry of Education put together the training kits that went out to all schools a few years back, so I guess I'm always referring back what those materials advise when it comes to food at public events, with the basic rule being that allergic children should never eat food that has not been sent from home, or approved by the parent. Baked goods are a special category in that they should never be allowed due to the huge potential for accidental cross-contamination. Some parents of allergic kids still don’t follow this basic rule, and that is why kids are still having reactions. So I'm sometimes concerned when I see home-baked goods declared nut-free, or milk-free, which creates a false sense of security as truly, it just may not be. Example ... Teacher brings home made rice Krispie squares so my son can enjoy them with the rest of the class. She says they are milk-free ... But then after I asked her, she stated they were made with butter! She felt horrible, but admitted that it never occurred to her that his milk allergy meant ALL foods that contain milk. My son's 1st episode of anaphylaxis came after a single bite of a hot dog, which had no milk in it. But it was prepared at a public event, so we'll never know where that contamination came from.

I know everyone wants to help, and it is appreciated! However, not everyone "gets it". For example, while part of a parent committee organizing a pancake breakfast, we were debating what other foods to offer with the pancakes. When scrambled eggs were suggested, a fellow parent (who is also a health care professional) shot that idea down due to egg allergies. I kind of chuckled to myself, wondering if she realized that pancakes are made from eggs? She had the best of intentions!

Anyway, I apologize for getting on my soap box, I really only did want to clarify what you meant by "allergy aware". There is just such a lack of understanding out there about allergies, I can't help myself sometimes when I see an opportunity to help. I will tell my teams that whatever they bring, is should be clearly marked with ingredients.


Communication is not my strength .... my husband seems to understand what I'm trying to say, but given that we're a smallish town, I don't want to antagonize this lady either, given her position and the potential I might have with the School Board if I won her over. Am I being too paranoid in my e-mails? Should I just let things be? What would you have done? I have attempted meetings with School Board officials, but get politely told that they have policies in place, and all schools are "Nut Free". :banghead I have our principal won over, but she has no time right now to deal with allergy issues. It's time to aim higher..

I have to admit, though, I get a little peeved with what I call "lip-service" at events like these. By making the request that baked goods are "allergy-aware", it makes the organizers feel good, but in fact, could put kids in danger.


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 27, 2010 2:31 pm 
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Joined: Fri Oct 10, 2008 9:40 pm
Posts: 2034
Location: ottawa
mumtobunches, I think you said it perfectly. I wouldn't have changed a thing and nothing you said should have put her on the defensive...in fact....didn't she come to you for advise regarding allergies!! :wink:
There is such a HUGE misconseption over what is allergy free. Some people roll their eyes when I say NO to them offering our son a treat...their response is that it is peanut free. I have to explain over and over again that peanut free doesn't mean allergy free. I think you are absolutely correct that saying 'allergy free' in regards to a bake sale is not possible in any way shape or form. One, as you said people can be allergic to just about anything, and cross contamination from a dozens of peoples homes would just about guarantee disaster.
I think you communicated very well. The intentions on their side are good but as we all have said before, unless people deal personally with allergies....they just don't seem to 'get it'. One option....bought baked goods only, sealed with ingredient labels. That is the closest you could get to allergy 'controlled'. Anything home made, wouldn't be safe in my eyes.

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DD 12 yrs -no allergies
4 yr old DS - asthma/eczema Anaphylactic to Peanuts, all tree nuts, sesame , all pea/lentil legumes, gelatin.
Allergic to trees, grass,ragweed, feathers, dander, mold and dust.
Outgrew eggs, fish, shellfish


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 28, 2010 11:59 pm 
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Joined: Mon Sep 05, 2005 12:53 am
Posts: 373
Location: Alberta
Thanks for your feedback BC2007, makes me feel better. :thanksign

What doesn't make me feel better is that 1 1/2 days later, she has still not responded. I'm always paranoid that people think that we're such "freaks" about allergies. I mean, this is a very, very well-educated and well-connected woman, so you'd think she'd be open to discussion on something as important as this?


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 29, 2010 5:20 pm 
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Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2005 11:17 pm
Posts: 6429
Location: Ottawa
I don't think you'll get a response. I skimmed through your e-mails and form what I saw, she clairified ""allergy aware" baked goods". Your second e-mail explained your position but I didn't see another question that requires a response. I think she'll just sort of hope you go away (no offense intended) :roll: . She doesn't know us very well does she? 8)

God luck opening day!

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Daughter: asthma, allergies to egg, milk, peanuts, tree nuts, most legumes (not soy) & penicillin. Developing hayfever type allergies.
Husband: no allergies
Me: allergies to some tree that flowers in May
Cat: allergic to beef, pork and lamb


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PostPosted: Sat May 01, 2010 7:21 am 
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Joined: Fri Oct 10, 2008 9:40 pm
Posts: 2034
Location: ottawa
Mumtobunches, I think that as long as you have explained to them they can't advertise as allergy safe you did your everything you needed to do. I would hope all allergy sufferers and all allergy parents already understand the risks in eating bake sale items and would have no intention to buy anything regardless how the sale was advertised.
Good luck with the fundraiser this morning, I hope baseball season is lots of fun with sunny weather.

_________________
DD 12 yrs -no allergies
4 yr old DS - asthma/eczema Anaphylactic to Peanuts, all tree nuts, sesame , all pea/lentil legumes, gelatin.
Allergic to trees, grass,ragweed, feathers, dander, mold and dust.
Outgrew eggs, fish, shellfish


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 15, 2010 6:56 pm 
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Joined: Sun Nov 30, 2008 11:00 am
Posts: 1115
I do know a couple of people who say they do not have to worry about may contains so they probably would eat something from a bake sale.

I have had that discussion with people saying that they are wasting their time labelling at bake sales because anyone with anaphylactic food allergies would not be buying from a bake sale!

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me: allergic to crustaceans plus environmental
teenager: allergic to hazelnuts, some other foods and environmental


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