22 March 2018

Navigating the legal ins and outs of food allergies



After seeing how many people engaged after a recent social media post on food allergies in the legal system, I thought I'd take a moment to provide some further education. I will say our AllerCoach (TM) program has an entire section on this. It is my least favorite section to teach, because let's face it,  I'm not a lawyer. It's hard to explain how the legal system works, when that's not my profession. I've had to understand it more as a business owner and as a community advocate, however.  So as you read this keep in mind,  this is just from my personal experience and time on this earth.

A few things to keep in mind:

1. There are existing laws related to the safety of those with food allergies.

2. If you want to understand how laws work, first you need to know that every state, county and city have different policies. Just because something is a federal law, doesn't mean it's enforced at the local level. Where do we see this most clearly today? Marijuana laws,  of course.

3. If you want to change the law or create a new law,  I cannot expresses the importance of being involved with your LOCAL political system, because this is where we, as individuals, can make THE BIGGEST impact.

4. Modifying an existing law seems much easier than creating a brand new law.  When I am talking to city council members, policy makers and so on, they all like to have a good example of where it's been done before and then write or adopt a law based on what's already existing.


Existing Laws

United States Federal Laws:  

The 2009 food code revision lists in section 2-102.11 that food establishments must have a manager/owner during all hours of operation onsite that have been trained in food allergens, cross contaminations, and symptoms of allergic reactions. They must also train all staff members in their specific duties about allergens.

This law only applies to states that have adopted the 2009 food code, in establishments that serve the public directly. Most health department inspectors aren't enforcing this law and many establishments are not even aware that this exist. Although the National Restaurant Association has put up a specific Allergy Training program available through ServSafe and many other businesses have been created to train restaurants specifically.

FALCPA has been in place since 2004 and requires that 8 allergens be listed in plain English on packaged food goods that are distributed across state lines. What does this mean for food allergic individuals? Locally produced products may not be required to list major allergens or all ingredients on packaging. Also if you have food allergies outside of diary, eggs, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, fin fish, shellfish or


State Specific Laws: Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, Rhode Island, Virginia, Illinois all have specific laws pertaining to food allergic diners in restaurants. Most of them are about the same. They require restaurants to ask guests if they have food allergies, to keep posters in the kitchen on top 8 food allergens, and have at least one person trained on food allergies. 

Georgia has a law that allows any entity serving food to carry epinephrine at their establishment and releasing any liability the establishment may have if they have to administer the life saving medication in case of an allergic reaction.

City Specific Laws: New York City and St. Paul are two cities that created laws relating to food allergy awareness in restaurants specifically some time ago. It was more adding the phrase, "if you have food allergies, please inform a server." to a menu and keeping a poster on the top 8 allergens available and visible to staff members in the kitchen.


Ongoing training, awareness, frequent food allergy drills with staff, and having food allergy safety specific tools are the the way help keep food allergic diners safe. While not all food allergic reactions are fatal, in any moment, without notice, they could become fatal.  The CDC reports that every 3 seconds someone is sent to the hospital for an allergic reaction. Not all allergic reactions go reported, however. Allergic reactions do have levels. Anaphylaxis is the worst- which is a whole body response. I've had reactions that I just manage but it's uncomfortable and painful. Hives and sour stomach are nothing compared to the long term damage it does to our immune systems.

It's just as much our responsibility as food allergic diners to take accountability though. We have to inform staff (no matter what) that we have food allergies. Even if you think it's impossible. I always carry a food allergy card- that lists all my food allergies and that I carry an epinephrine pen. This should be just as much of a law as making food service professionals take a training. We need to be partners in food allergen management.

If you are interested in changing the laws in your state, I suggest first talking with your state's restaurant association about at least adopting the 2009 or newer federal food code- if they have not done so already. It's easier to adopt something already in place then having to create something from scratch, and there are other benefits to the state in doing so, usually. FARE also has a guide, https://www.foodallergy.org/sites/default/files/2017-08/Restaurant-Toolkit.pdf

On the advocacy and impact side, explaining to local groups in food service management the importance of food allergy education and asking them to update their policies, is almost as important if not more than changing a law. Just because there is law on the books, doesn't mean it will be enforced or even enforced properly. A restaurant receiving a fine or a lawsuit because they killed someone or made someone sick, is not enough. Any establishment responsible for serving food to people should be trained because it's the responsible thing to do. There is a nice way to go about this. It's also more than just kids. Adult onset food allergies also exist. Anyone of their workers is subject to developing an allergy- latex, food or other environmental allergens, and that could impact their ability to work.

For more information on taking a course in food allergen management please contact us.

FARE
FAACT

29 January 2016

Sharing life saving medication- to do or not to do?



I cannot believe we have to ask ourselves this question!

As someone who must carry epinephrine with me at all times in case of an episode of anaphylaxis shock- I would be more than willing to share my medication to save another person's life- because I can't put a price on life. It is in fact what keeps me from remembering to not leave home without it, I figure if I won't do it for myself, what if someone else needed it? 

When my son had his first allergic reaction at 15 years old, I used my medication to save his life. Equally my son has used his rescue inhaler to save my life. Yet a Texas school suspended two girls for doing so. The girl who shared her medication should have been given a medal. The school should be thankful it didn't have to report the death of a child.

The Allergy & Asthma Network shared this story: "Two Texas middle school students shared a quick-relief albuterol inhaler earlier this month, it sparked a debate on whether it’s appropriate for asthma patients to share inhalers as well as how schools should handle similar situations. The students had unknowingly violated a school policy that prohibited sharing prescription medications such as inhalers and both were suspended from school." Read full article


It is my opinion that all life saving medication should be carried in all first aid kits. In fact, unless the medication would kill someone else if used improperly- it should NOT require a prescription. Pain relief is sold OTC but life saving medication is not?  With the rise in medically diagnosed food allergies (not just with kids but adults) this is something we should consider fighting for with legislation. 

While the story is about sharing an inhaler. There is a current petition to make epinephrine an over the counter medication. Click here to view.

Allergic reactions or Asthma attacks can happen anytime, anywhere to anyone without previous notice. Both of these are life threatening illnesses. Although these illnesses may become life long chronic conditions, and people will learn to navigate life differently, it's not something that can be predicted.

As a whole our society needs better training on how to handle episodes of any life threatening chronic illness. A course in public health/safety as a high school requirements that address these issues, may not be a terrible idea.

29 September 2015

Food Health



In May 2015 we traveled to the FARE (Food Allergy Research & Education) conference in Long Beach, CA where we met new CEO, Dr. Jim Baker.  

We learned that one thing we can do to improve our overall health and give us a better chance of fighting food allergies, was to eat a more fiber rich diet. Leading medical researchers spoke at the conference on food allergies. When they were asked about taking probiotics, the researchers claimed there was no probiotic on the market that showed significant value, therefore go with fiber rich diets instead. 
So our research began. Of course instead of taking fiber pills, we are much more interested in food that will fuel our system with appropriate amounts of fiber. As a side note we found that those looking to maintain weight or lose weight have a greater likelihood to do so with high-fiber diets. 
Researchers found overall, eating an extra portion of fruit a day led to a weight loss of 0.24 kg, while eating an extra daily portion of vegetables brought a weight loss of 0.11 kg.
Eggplant is  low in calories, but high in dietary fibers, vitamin C and B-6.  

A one-cup serving of eggplant meets 10% of daily fiber needs, 5% potassium, 3% vitamin C, 5% vitamin B-6, 1% iron and 2% magnesium.

Vitamin B6  is needed for normal brain development and function, and helps the body make the hormones serotonin and norepinephrine, which influence mood, and melatonin, which helps regulate the body clock. 


The average adult 19-50 years old needs about 1.3 mg per day of vitamin B6. 

People who have food allergies, celiac, kidney problems or alcohol dependency have difficulty getting enough vitamin B6 in their diets and may require more B6 rich foods. Click to see children's B6 requirements. 

People almost never get too much vitamin B6 from food. But taking high levels of vitamin B6 from supplements for a year or longer can cause severe nerve damage, leading people to lose control of their bodily movements. Hence we try to avoid supplements. 

What if you don't like Eggplant? 


The first question is- do you know how to prepare and cook eggplant?  Often times we don't like something because it's not been prepared in a way that allows the flavors of the item to be highlighted.

Recently at a private dinner party for some members of  (Nappy Roots), Chef Lara made an eggplant and mushroom cream sauce to go over a pasta dish served with chicken and shrimp. Very few people at the table that evening believed they like eggplant, but everyone's dish was clean that night, no complaints. 

It's very simple to create the sauce. While the skin of an eggplant is rich in antioxidants- it also turns the sauce a little more purple, therefore it's up to each chef to remove the skin or leave it on.

3 cups eggplant cut into small chunks
1/2 cup white mushrooms cut into small pieces
3 cups of rice milk plain
1 tablespoon of salt
2 tablespoons of finely chopped basil
3 tablespoons of garlic
1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper

Place ingredients into a blender and liquify for about 2 minutes.
Place contents into a sauce pan and simmer on low heat stirring occasionally until heated
Pour over spaghetti squash or other noodle of choice.
Garnish with fresh parsley or basil.

Ask us about more great eggplant recipes. The trick is the olive oil, salt and roasting technique often. Grilled eggplant remains nutritionally in tack and flavorful.


Other foods high in Vitamin B6 are potatoes, chicken, fish and non citrus fruits. 


Check out the latest video on potato health, subscribe to the Food Allergy Gal, YouTube Channel

08 June 2015

Balancing Safe and Healthy Foods

By Tami Pyles

Making sure you are eating healthy can be a challenge for anyone, but especially for those who are also dealing with food allergies or celiac disease.  Restricted diets and foods that are off limits can make it seem difficult for both healthy and safe eating, but Food Allergy Gal Dietician, Lisa Musician, explains how it can be done.  I had the privilege of hearing her address this topic recently at the Gluten Free Food Allergy Fest in Columbus, OH.

Musician, a registered and licensed dietitian in Northeastern, Pennsylvania with expertise in the area of food allergies, was one of the shows featured speakers.  She shared simple and effective strategies for maintaining health and safety when eating with food allergies or celiac disease.

Focus on What You Can Eat
When you are dealing with food allergies there is often a tendency to focus on the foods you cannot have.  Musician says by simply shifting your focus to what you can have, your “safe” foods, you realize there are still many options for you to enjoy.  Creating a list of safe foods help you focus on what the possibilities are rather than your restrictions.

Get Back to Basics
Cooking doesn’t have to be fancy to be good.  Musician suggests sticking to simple ingredients- think a protein, starch and fruits and vegetables.  Get creative with preparation to explore new flavors, for example roast your vegetables instead of boiling them.  Build meal plans so you can reference the plan when you are feeling stuck or need some inspiration.  Other great tips include cooking ahead of time and making extras as well as determining your safe staples and making sure they are always on hand in the pantry.

Make Mindful Choices
A visit to the grocery store will reveal that there are many safe convenience foods available for food allergic and celiac diners, but at the end of the day are these choices truly healthy?  Musician says making it yourself is always a better choice.  Processed foods, even those that are safe, often have increased levels of fat, sodium and sugar.  Convenience foods are an easy choice, especially when you tire of cooking so much, but over time there is no doubt that your health will suffer if convenience always wins.

Eating healthy and safe is possible- it just takes some planning and preparation.  The investment in time will pay off both in terms of staying healthy and exploring all the safe options you have available.  

Tami Pyles is an AllerCoach and owner of Thrive On Consulting.  You can follow her blog, Thoughts for Thriving On, by visiting her website thriveonconsulting.net

06 May 2015

Great Finds at the Gluten Free Food Allergy Fest Columbus, OH

By Tami Pyles

On March 24th and 25th the gluten free and food allergy community came together in Columbus, OH for the Gluten Free Food Allergy Fest hosted by Gluten Free and More (formerly Living Without).  It was two wonderful days of sharing, learning, and coming together as a community.  Food allergies can create feelings of isolation as our food crazed culture excludes us, but the GFFAFest provided an opportunity for those with food allergies to come together and provided access to multiple products and resources so we do not have to live without.

GFFA Fest was full of product samples, lectures and cooking demonstrations throughout the two day event. Food Allergy Gal and our team were presenting and scouring the exhibitors to find great products. Numerous companies offered great products, but there were three unique finds we wanted to share with you.



Master’s Hand BBQ
Master’s Hand makes BBQ sauces, rubs, dip mix and BBQ snacks that are all free of gluten, soy, dairy, MSG, smoke flavoring and artificial preservatives.  They also make jerky that is nitrate free.  Steven J. Beers, CEO, is also the creator of the sauce.  He began making the mild sauce 25 years ago and at his daughters urging he founded the company in 2010.  Based in Fort Wayne, IN , you can find their products in 80 regional stores or online at www.mastershandbbq.com.







Soodles Bake Shop
Bakery treats can be difficult for food allergic individuals to eat but Amy McCrea, whose own children have food allergies, has made it possible since her tasty baked goods are all free of  gluten, nuts, tree nuts (except coconut), soy, egg and dairy.  They can also do special order items free of allergens such as corn, rice or coconut. Soodles, based in Columbus, OH with a bakery on Dilmont Dr. and numerous local retail outlets, offers a full array of baked treats as well as breads, mixes crusts.  You can also order their items, including their most popular item the cinnamon coffee cake, online at www.soodlesbakeshop.com





The Soapy Soap Company
Personal care products, such as soap, can be tricky for food allergic individuals as they often contain oils or other allergens.  This company offers a wide array of soaps under their brand Sābūn.  These bars are all gluten free, vegan, halal, free of GMOs and cruelty free.  Started by two college roommates they have established their company in Bloomington, IN and are committed to making high-quality soaps.  Their Body Be Gentle line is made with olive oil and has very few ingredients making it a great choice for food allergic individuals.  Their soaps, and other products such as lip balms and essential oils, can be purchased online at www.soapysoapcompany.com.  When ordering online you can use the code GFOH2015 to receive a free lip balm with your purchase (while supplied last through 7/31/15) .


These, and other vendors, offer great products and resources for managing life with food allergies. To check out the full list of exhibitors at the Columbus GFFAFest click here. We will be writing more about the GFFAFest to continue to share the great information shared at the event.  Our next post about the GFFAFest will provide highlights from the presentation by Food Allergy Gal’s dietitian, Lisa Musician on balancing safe and healthy food choices. The complete list of speakers, can be found by clicking here.


Stay connected to Food Allergy Gal via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or Instagram. Check out our new AllerCoach program.

16 April 2015

Organic vs. Conventional foods


The debate continues on organic vs. conventional grown produce and products:


Which is "better for you?" 

A recent survey of college students in America showed that 114 students thought that just because the label said, "Organic" meant that the product could have less calories and would ultimately help a person to lose weight.

University of Michigan researchers showed 114 students a label from either ordinary Oreos vs. Organic Oreos “made with organic flour and sugar.” Then the researchers asked: “Compared to other cookie brands, do you think that 1 serving of these Oreo cookies (the organic version)  contains fewer calories or more calories?”

Results: Students believed "Organic Oreos" contained fewer calories.

In a second experiment, students were asked about a 20- year-old female named Susie, who was trying to lose weight. “Would it be okay for Susie to skip her usual three-mile run after dinner to spend more time on schoolwork?”

Most students answered “yes” when told that Susie’s dinner (roasted vegetables over brown rice) had finished with a small bowl of organic ice cream or an organic cookie than if the desserts were not described as organic.

An organic food (or its ingredients) is grown without pesticides, antibiotics, or growth hormones. While organic junk may not harm the environment, it can still have the same or more calories and cause the same harm to a body.

How many people buy Organic Newman-O’s when they’d never buy Oreos, Whole Foods 365 Organic Cheese Crackers instead of Cheez-Its, or Nature’s Path Organic Frosted Toaster Pastries but not Pop-Tarts?

"Which is less likely to cause poisonous outbreaks?" 


Research professor, Charles Benbrook states, "Both organic and conventional foods can be a source of poisoning outbreaks. However, in an organic system, there's a much higher level of microbial biodiversity, so there are more naturally beneficial microbes in the system and soil."


“Studies show that when you introduce pathogens into an organic system, they often don’t survive very long because the biologically rich community of organisms that’s naturally there either competes effectively with them or uses them for lunch,” says Benbrook.

“Pesticide use in conventional agriculture tends to reduce microbial biodiversity, both in the soil and on the surfaces of the plant. So when a pathogen does take hold, there’s more of an ecological vacuum there, and the pathogen populations can grow.”

“Most bacteria need nitrogen, and a ready source of nitrogen can fuel spikes in their levels. So in conventional systems that have an excess of nitrogen, there’s extra “gas” that can drive up pathogen levels,” explains Benbrook.

Does organic produce have higher levels of nutrients?

“About 30-35% of the time, there’s no statistical difference. In 5-10% of studies, the nutrient levels are higher in conventional foods. That’s based on studies that compare the same varieties of fruits and vegetables grown in similar locations, which is the ideal way to do these comparisons," says Charles Benbrook research professor at Washington State University’s Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources


11 April 2015

Coming to Columbus: Food Allergy Experts


by Tami Pyles

What's happening in the Food Allergy & Gluten Free Community that's fun, exciting, educational, and inspirational?



Come find out on April 25-26th in Columbus, OH for the Gluten Free Food Allergy Fest sponsored by Gluten Free & More magazine (formerly Living Without).  The event is one of seven being held nationwide this year that includes opportunities to learn from experts, meet exhibitors and sponsors with gluten-free and allergy-friendly products, and network and meet with others who are living well without.


Food Allergy Gal's founder, Lara Holland, will be conducting live demos both days on how to meal plan and invent recipes on the fly with multiple food allergies.  Joining Food Allergy Gal will be Lisa Musician, a licensed nutritionist and certified food allergy manager and Tami Pyles, certified AllerCoach and owner of Thrive On Consulting.  Lisa will also be presenting both days and Tami will be covering media for the event.




Want to join Food Allergy Gal and her team in Columbus?  Visit our Food Allergy Gal's AllerCoach facebook page and enter your name to win a free ticket. If you can’t make it to the event be sure to follow #GFFA tags @FoodAllergyGal or @Pyles_ThriveOn on twitter for live updates throughout the event.



Winners of 1 Free Ticket to this show announced 4-20-2015: 


The Gluten Free Food Allergy Fest is this coming weekend in Columbus, OH!  We are excited to announce that the winners of our ticket give-away are Tiffany Monroe and Nikki Marcum!

Tiffany and Nikki, be sure to have your ID and visit the will call booth at the conference to pick up your tickets.

We look forward to meeting many of you this weekend. If you are unable to attend the event in Columbus you can follow us on Twitter @FoodAllergyGal or @Pyles_ThriveOn for live updates throughout the event using ‪#‎GFFAFEST‬

09 April 2015

Living with IBS and Lactose Intolerance

Living A Happy Lactose-Free Life

by Guest writer Carly Trigg 


What’s the difference between lactose intolerance and a dairy allergy?
Be careful not to confuse an intolerance with an allergy, otherwise you’ll be restricting your diet based upon symptoms which are not your own. So how do your symptoms match up? Here’s the lowdown on what the differences really are…

Lactose intolerance 
This occurs in 168 million people worldwide and is generally acknowledged as the inability to break down the sugars found in dairy products.

If you suffer with a lactose intolerance, you are unable to digest ANY dairy product without a nasty feeling of abdominal discomfort and nausea experience afterwards. This is because the sufferer does not have enough of the enzyme ‘Lactase’ which is needed to break the sugar molecules properly.

Dairy allergies
This is an allergic reaction to the proteins in dairy, most commonly associated with cow’s milk products. Those who suffer with this might feel stomach pain, skin rashes, lip swells or breathing problems immediately after ingesting the dairy. Reaction to this can be much more extreme than those with a lactose intolerance including anaphylaxis shock. Products including butter, creme cheese, sour cream, milk, cheese, whey, casein can all cause dairy allergic individuals allergic reactions.

Click to read more about the difference between food allergy and food intolerance

Can I consume lactose when I have IBS?
It's all about trial and error. As symptoms and trigger-foods differ from IBS sufferer to IBS sufferer, it’s inconsequential to say that all of those with digestive ailments cannot digest lactase. I, personally, can. Considering this, I do have to ensure it is only in small quantities and/or combined with some other food source, such as milk in my porridge, or yoghurt with some berries.
Having said this, IBS and lactose intolerance are completely different problems, and are not to be confused. IBS sufferers are not necessarily sensitive to ALL dairy foods and should also consider whether their problems with digesting lactase is linked to a gastrointestinal infection, food allergy or Coeliac disease before restricting their diet of lactose.

Lactose-free alternatives to try
Going lactose-free is pretty simple nowadays due to the great range of free-from foods you can find in your local supermarket. Instead of cow’s milk, why not try soya or nut milks?

You can also find loads of dairy-free chocolates online, like from MooFree and DandD chocolates.

Other lactose-free foods include lactose-free cheese and lactose-free yoghurts.

There are great varieties available online too, with some of the best sitting pretty on LactoFree.com.




Dairy-free Cupcakes Recipe 
(Email me for US conversions) 

Ingredients 
30ml vegetable oil
2tsp lemon juice
50g caster sugar
100g coconut flour
2tbsp cocoa powder
½ tsp baking soda
120ml soya milk
Icing
100g icing sugar
3tbsp tepid water
1sp cocoa powder (optional)
Food colouring (optional)
Dairy free mini eggs (I used D and D Chocolate’s mini eggs which are dairy, egg and wheat-free)

Preparation 
1. Set the oven to 180c.
2. Mix together the wet ingredients (milk, oil and lemon juice).
3. Stir together the dry ingredients (sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda).
4. Add the wet to the dry and mix quickly so that the lemon juice is completely combined with the baking soda and flour.
5. Distribute the mixture with 1 tablespoon per cupcake case.
6. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown.
7. Whilst these are baking, mix the ingredients for the icing. Add all the icing ingredients together so that it’s thick but no lumpy (it needs to sit atop the cake but not slide off). If you’re looking to jazz it up, add your food colouring at this stage.
8. Once the cupcakes are cooked and have chilled for half an hour, add the icing. Don’t be inclined the spread the icing during this part – it will naturally move around the cake’s exterior and shouldn’t be melded into the sponge any more than it needs to.
9. Top with mini eggs or dairy-free grated chocolate.
10. Enjoy!


Did you enjoy this recipe? Head over to Carly's blog and check out healthy oatmeal raisin cookie recipe – a real favourite amongst the family and everyone in the office!

For more nutritional advice and IBS advice, go to My Well Being Journal (Note: reading the blog may cause irrational hunger pangs) 

Stay connected to Carly on Twitter or Instagram @mwbjournal

05 April 2015

Roasted Okra


Try okra in a whole new way. I like to use fresh okra right from the local urban farm. Try to avoid using frozen as it can get mushy.

Okra is a good source of Protein, Niacin, Iron, Phosphorus, Zinc and Copper, and a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Folate, Calcium, Magnesium, Potassium and Manganese.

What you'll need: 
20 fresh okra pods
Olive Oil
Sea Salt
Black Pepper
Chile Powder
Cookie Sheet
Oven

How to make:
Wash Okra
Place whole pods on cookie sheet
Drizzle with olive oil
Sprinkle Salt, Pepper and Chile Powder over pods
Bake at 425 for 10 to 15 minutes

Want more recipes from Food Allergy Gal?  Click here or contact to get customized meal plans.

27 March 2015

11 year old boy dies due to food allergic reaction because of mislableing

USAToday.com full article: http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2015/03/24/family-sues-publix-wrongful-death/70381282/

An Alabama family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Publix Super Markets Inc. because of their 11-year-old son's death after eating a cookie they say was mislabeled from a store in Clarksville.
Derek "Landon" Wood, 11, of Sterrett, Ala., died of anaphylactic shock on June 3, 2014, after eating a cookie from the local Publix, which the family says had not been marked as containing a food allergen.
At a bakery counter that displayed ready-to-eat desserts such as cookies, brownies, pastries and muffins, there were no signs at or behind-the-counter warning of allergens or cross-contamination with allergens, the lawsuit said.
According to the lawsuit, before purchasing the cookie, Cline was told by a supermarket associate that a chocolate cookie, called a "Chocolate Chew," did not contain any tree nut allergens.
No label on the cookie disclosed the presence of allergens or a list of ingredients, the lawsuit said.
When the family returned home, Cline took a bite of the cookie, saw there were no nuts, and gave the rest to her son. Landon had three bites of the cookie and was sure there was something in it because his mouth was burning, the lawsuit said.
The cookie did contain walnuts.

-------------------------------Our take at Food Allergy Gal----------------------------------------

While Food Allergy Gal is not in favor of starting lawsuits for the sake of starting one, this is an area where I feel like we should be doing more in our community. Proper labeling is not only required by the FDA on packaged foods for 8 major allergens, but should just be good common sense practice. 
People aren't taking food allergies seriously and there is no mandated requirement for food service professionals to be properly trained on the consequences of mislabeling or not taking proper precautions in food service. We (the food service industry) all need to be trained from the grower to the restaurant. 
There are over 170 different foods known to cause allergic reactions. Allergic reactions can be deadly within seconds. While epinephrine is a medication that may stop anaphylaxis from finishing it's cycle (which is death), there is not a 100% guarantee. The medication cost over $350 for each dose usually, but is absolutely required for those with food allergies. 
Today in the United States over 15 million people have been diagnosed and reported as having food allergies that can be life threatening. Globally the number soars above 220 million people. 
The biggest trend we are seeing today is adult onset food allergies <---- (yes that is plural). Multiple food allergies are being diagnosed in adults for the very first time in their life. These allergies go way off just what the US deems as the major 8. 
There is a support group with over 300 members (www.FAadults.org) devoted to late onset food allergic adults. These adults ate normally for most of their lives until one day their immune systems decided to go haywire. It can happen to anyone, anywhere, anytime. Anaphylaxis does not discriminate. All ages, ethnicities and genders can face anaphylaxis to any one or multiple foods found in the 170 reported. 
This is where clean labeling of all products becomes essential.  Any product found anywhere that contains any food ingredient should be labeled in plain language. For example, if a soap contains citric acid and avocado, it should clearly state, "Contains citrus and avocado." If a restaurant has a Meatball Sandwich on the menu it should have a separate menu, book or e-menu that defines every ingredient (ex. tomato, beef, veal, parmesan cheese (milk), corn meal, wheat, egg, oregano, basil, salt, pepper, garlic, onion, sugar). The reason why: because someone may have a garlic and dairy allergy and the staff may not be thinking of those "minor" ingredients so they recite something simple and seemingly harmless like, "so you should be fine." 
Customers with food allergies also need to take responsibility and ensure everyone in the process knows they have a food allergy, even if it might not seem like banana would be in that salad, but you just never know what might hiding in the dressing. It's important to triple check though. To save time, just do clean labeling upfront. It can get annoying after the 80th person has walked thru the door and said, "what's in that?" or "does the main dish have ____,_____,____ in it?" So be prepared up front whenever possible.
Trust me it pays off royally in the end. Food Allergic guests, their friends, family members, and co-workers will become loyal patrons if they know they can safely be accommodated in your facility or with your product that's on the shelf that has simple, plain language ingredients listed on them.  -Avoid the lawsuit and especially avoid having death on your hands, where a mistake could have been prevented-.