Tag Archives: Allergy

Living Creatively with Food Allergies

I’ve spoken on here a lot about my food allergies, and the creative living that the food-allergic community must partake in.  One of those creative (read: out-of-the-norm) strategies is calling companies.  Often.

This week’s challenge for me is finding safe vitamins.  I’m taking January to try to get healthy and take control of my life.  I’m somewhat of a realist, so “eat better,” “go to the gym,” and “lose weight” really aren’t on my resolution list.  Instead, I’m trying to listen to my body and do more yoga this year.  I also want to choose foods more intentionally based on problems I’m having, to try to work with my body naturally.  So, January has me hitting up all my doctors for the proper check-ups.  (At 26, I have more than the norm of the “regular doctors”… for me this includes an eye doctor I see several times a year and a rheumatologist).  I’m also looking for vitamins.  I have a pretty healthy diet, but this goes back to trying to be intentional about solving some minor issues naturally.

I know that some vitamin manufacturers use facilities where peanuts and tree nuts are present.  And that this is complicated by the fact that the FDA considers coconut to be a tree nut (whereas FAAN and Canadian food authorities consider it to be a fruit).  I’ve found several threads online with discussions of nut-free kids’ vitamins.  But what about adults?

After an initial phone call to CVS, I found out that their vitamins are made in a facility without peanuts, but some may be processed with tree nuts.  I now have an inquiry in with them regarding 5 specific vitamin products, which they will be calling back about to see if these specific vitamins are produced in a facility with tree nuts, and if this means coconut or a “real” tree nut.

In part to find vitamins, in part out of frustration, outrage and curiosity– I made a list at night of Vitamin brand phone numbers and called them all the next day.  For whatever it’s worth, here’s what I found out.

1.  Walgreens- [Spoke to a very helpful woman who herself has severe peanut and tree nut allergies.]  Received email back that specific items are needed to get an answer.

2.  CVS- Facilities are peanut-free; not all facilities are tree nut free.  Awaiting call back regarding 5 specific products I inquired about.

3. Nature’s Bounty: Would not speak to me about general questions; requires specific product info.

4.  Nature Made: No peanut/tree nut derivatives.  No food products made in facility (vitamins only).  No eating/food allowed near product assembly lines.  [She was very confident, but something about her tone made me feel uneasy about this answer… perhaps she was just less-than-empathetic to my concerns.]

*A note about Nature Made: A quick Google search found a thread from 2001 where outraged customers found that Nature Made vitamins (including prenatals) contained peanut oil!  It seems one person was told that the company did understand the implications of this, and was changing their formula.  A 2011 thread confirmed that Nature Made products are all “nut free” based on a consumer’s call to the company.  I’m not sure if that includes facility as the comment did not specify if this was a “nut free facility” or just “nut free products.”

5.  Harmon- Still waiting for response.

6.  Windmill- Called me back.  Peanut and Tree Nut Free Facility.

7.  Twinlab- No peanut/tree nut in facility

8.  Sundown- Some products produced with tree nuts.  Differentiated by lot number, must call back with specific products.  (I believe they said no peanuts, but don’t fully remember).

9.  Target brand (Up & Up)- Target rep gave me phone number of vitamin manufacturer.  May have nuts in facility.  Customer rep was very nice.  I asked if I might get further info if I was calling about a specific product and she said that, honestly, I would probably get the same response.

10.  Freeda- Emailed them as an afterthought.  Received a quick reply that, “We manufacture our supplements in our own facility and there are no peanuts or tree nuts in our supplements.”

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Food Allergy Awareness Week

I am convinced that no one leads more creative lives than the allergic.

Really.

Ask any mom faced with cake-baking without eggs (or milk, or wheat flour!).  Ask any girl who needs to accessorize with a bag that can fit her epi-pen.  Ask the parents, teachers, and school administrators who try to keep our children safe from (potentially fatal) allergens.  Ask any boy or girl who needs to explain to their new date how to keep them safe when kissing them by avoiding allergic foods.

I’m almost convinced that food allergies are starting to develop a culture all their own.  Cultures have food, art, and traditions.
The food-allergic have “nut free” and “gluten free” products, books like those about “Alexander the Allergic Elephant” and music by Kyle Dine, and things they share in common like reading food labels and developing close relationships with their local restaurants.

In honor of Food Allergy Awareness Week, here’s some links I hope you’ll find helpful or fun– whether you have food allergies, know someone who does, or not!

http://www.foodallergy.org/  Lots of info on awareness, research, and practical tips.

http://nut-freemom.blogspot.com/  Just found her a few weeks ago– her facebook updates are great as well!

http://www.vermontnutfree.com/ Amazing Nut Free Chocolate!  Worth a try even if you don’t have allergies– there’s never a bad reason to eat chocolate anyway (Whole Foods often carries their chocolate bars– but there’s so much more online, including holiday candy and jelly beans!)

http://www.kyledine.com/  Music about food allergies!! Great activist.

http://www.enjoylifefoods.com/  Goodies free of all 8 top food allergens! (I like their Boom-Choco-Boom bars! I find them in Shoprite and Whole Foods as well as online).

http://www.divvies.com/ While I haven’t tried them yet, I’m looking forward to it! Chocolate, baked goods, candy, and popcorn!

Finally, http://www.peanutfreesweettooth.com/ .  Just saw this on the Nut-Free Mom’s blog.  Looks like one-stop shopping for safe goodies!

Enjoy!  And feel free to comment if you have questions or comments about the topic of food allergies– or a site, tips, or safe food to share!

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