allergy note for Obiefest 2014

Hey friends, as promised here’s my info dump on Jesse’s egg allergy and safe eating. It’s probably too much information, but better too much than too little I think, and I captioned so you can scroll to whatever you feel you need to read.

SCOPE OF ALLERGY

It’s just eggs and anything containing eggs (yolks and whites, egg powder, albumin, anything egg). I don’t consider this to be an “airborne” allergy but a high-sensitivity contact and ingestion allergy. Jesse had an extremely bad reaction to merely being in a class where raw eggs were cracked open. She didn’t ingest or directly touch anything, but she had a solid anaphylactic reaction and follow-up sinus/eye/ear infections. Still, it was preschool so we can safely assume the other kiddies spread that shit all around on their dirty little fingers. On another occasion Jesse worked closely at school with a kid who bragged about making his own eggs that morning, and by the time I picked her up her eyes were swollen almost shut and once again we had weeks of sinus/eye/ear infections. These were one-off exposures that each resulted in a month of follow-on illness, so we remain extremely conservative about constant exposure. Our home and Jesse’s school classrooms are 100% egg-free, which we hope gives her body a better ability to battle the accidental exposures that occur anyway.

We had an accidental test of current conditions a few months ago when Jesse ate a hot dog bun with egg in it. Given how breads are made, my guess is that’s a maximum of a teaspoon of egg in the bun, well-baked. Within about 15 minutes, Jesse was puking all over the yard, which is bad news for such a small exposure to fully cooked egg. Good news is, she puked it all out, zyrtec worked and visible symptoms didn’t progress beyond the day. So we’re feeling pretty good about that. Bottom line: no need to panic if there’s an egg exposure, we just have to deal with it right away.

SYMPTOMS AND RESPONSE

What we’ve seen in past is facial swelling (esp. around the eyes and mouth), red splotchiness all over body, hives (under chin typically), itchiness on face and eyes, vomiting, and severe stomach pain. It won’t necessarily be obvious, except for the vomit.

Here’s our basic protocol for handling things (I’ll post this in the house somewhere, probably kitchen):

1. If Jesse’s having a visible allergic reaction:

-breathing difficulties or other catastrophic reaction = epi-pen and 911. Help Carla not panic.
-otherwise, dose immediately with 1 1/2 tsp liquid zyrtec or liquid benadryl, or 2 benadryl melt-tabs
-remove clothing and inspect body for scope of reaction
-wash hands and face thoroughly with soap, and anyplace else she may have touched egg. If she’s able, rinse out mouth with water.
-if she feels like vomiting, encourage her to go for it.

2. No visible reaction, but Jesse has definitely eaten anything containing eggs:

-rinse out mouth with water
-dose immediately with 1 1/2 tsp liquid zyrtec or liquid benadryl, or 2 benadryl melt-tabs
-have her wash hands and face
-Send her outside and encourage her to puke if she feels like it.

3. No visible reaction, but Jesse definitely touched something containing eggs OR  might  have eaten something containing or contaminated with eggs:

-rinse out mouth with water
-dose with a smaller amount — 1 tsp liquid zyrtec or benadryl, or 1 benadryl melt-tab
-wash hands and face

THE NO LIST

I believe we’ve agreed to keep the following items out of the house entirely:

actual eggs and egg beaters (they’re made of egg whites, not a substitute)
wet batters and doughs made with eggs (e.g., cakes, pancakes/waffles, cookies)
gooey/crumbly baked goods made with eggs (cakes, cookies are the main culprits)
Mayonnaise or anything made with it (like egg salad or chicken salad)
pre-made eggy foods like quiche
egg-containing ice creams (custard, Ben & Jerry’s, Haagen Das are main culprits)
creamy dressings and dips that contain eggs
egg breads (challah, brioche)

Other stuff that comes in with eggs in it will go in one kitchen where Jesse shall not roam.

WHERE EGGS SHOW UP

Just an FYI, some other sources of egg exposures, depending on how the food is prepared:

fresh pasta and filled pastas like ravioli and lasagna, also quick-cook lasagna noodles
meatballs, meatloaf
baked goods with egg washes – e.g. shiny foods like croissants (though some shiny foods are from milk washes)
battered foods like fish sticks and onion rings and fried chicken
foods cooked on same (unwashed) surface as eggs – think diner grill
foods deep fried in same oil as egg-battered foods
something cut with an unwashed knife previously used to cut a sandwich with mayo, or on same cutting board
some chocolates and candies (e.g. nouggat, water taffy)
spa-like face masks

It’s everywhere, so never assume a food or even a beauty/cosmetic product is egg-safe unless it’s something that came straight off a plant or out of the dirt.

In case the littler ones want to know: Jesse isn’t allergic to eggplant, though she reacts like she is if I make her eat it.

PACKAGED/STORE-BOUGHT FOOD AND LABELS

Lots of commonly enjoyed packaged junk foods are totally safe for Jesse, like… marshmallows, Oreos, popsicles, chips and nacho chips, most crackers, chips ahoy cookies, hard pretzels, most chocolates (but not all candy bars, e.g., Snickers and Milky ways contain eggs), sugary candies and fruit leathers, and some ice creams. The lower the quality, the less likely there’s egg in it. Also lots of commonly enjoyed not-so-junky packaged foods are safe, like most breads and things like hummus and guacamole. You just have to read the labels to be sure.

When you’re reading labels for packaged goods, you’ll typically see a summary (after the detailed ingredient list) of common allergens. Don’t rely on the summary, because sometimes it only includes items that aren’t obvious in the main ingredient list. Best to read all the ingredients.

You’ll also often see comments after ingredient list about manufacturing practices. It is perfectly fine to have Jesse around egg-free foods that are manufactured in same facility or on same equipment as eggs. We let Jesse eat food made in the “same facility” as eggs but not on “same equipment” or “shared equipment.”

Final note on packaged food front: I don’t let Jesse eat fresh baked products from local bakeries unless I’ve investigated conditions with the baker. Usually there isn’t enough segregation of eggs for anyone to feel it’s safe. So, for instance, you could bring in a loaf of french bread from the local grocery  and it’s fine to have it all over the house, but I probably won’t let Jesse eat it.

HOUSE PROTOCOLS AND HELPFUL HABITS

If you do eat food containing eggs in the house, the following steps will help minimize risk:

-wipe hands and face on napkins, not clothes. If the eggy food does get smeared on clothes, either wash them off or change.
-Have a nice big drink of something when you’re done eating.
-Wash hands before touching things, especially shared surfaces like game controllers, remotes, board games, door knobs, etc. (sanitizer doesn’t cut it – it kills germs but doesn’t remove allergens)
-clean dirty counter surfaces with disposable paper towel or wipe, not a sponge or towel that’ll remain in kitchen.
-Wash dishes and utensils right away, and then put them away in the “egg kitchen.”

For Jesse’s food:

-she should only eat stuff coming out of the egg-free kitchen
-Children don’t get to say that a questionable food is safe for her, no matter how old they are and no matter how well they can read labels. Only an adult.
-When in doubt about whether a food is safe, the answer is no unless Carla or Anthony says yes.
-if there’s space, perhaps we can designate an “egg-free” table or counter zone so there’s always a safe place for Jesse to hunker down for a snack or meal.

EGG REPLACERS 

So many options! Here are a few I use:

EnerG or Bob’s Mill egg replacer. It’s a powder, you can use it in a variety of baking. I’ll bring some.
Ground flaxseed + water. Perfect for ruddy foods like pancakes.
vegetable Oil. Good in cakes.
Apple sauce or bananas. Good for healthy people.
Tofu (usually silken in baked goods).
vegan mayo – main available brand is vegennaise. Tastes exactly the same to my dull palate.

RECIPES AND SUCH

I do a lot of baking from scratch to make safe treats for Jesse and her friends/classmates, so I can provide recipes (or do the actual labor) for all manner of fresh bread, breakfast and quick breads, scones, pancakes, cakes, cookies, sweet treats, bars, puddings, mousse, pies, etc. etc. If there’s anything you really want, let me know and I’ll make sure I bring a good recipe.

 

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4 thoughts on “allergy note for Obiefest 2014

  1. I thought I sent this already but somehow it didn’t go through: Any objections to us cooking eggy stuff (e.g. pancakes) on the outdoor grill? We can be careful to use disposable plates and utensils and eat outside. Of course we would observe “house protocols” as you listed. Whaddya think?

    • Here’s unedited dump of my reactions. Not so much objections, but the plain reality is it’ll add an extra layer of vigilance and stress for me, which is ok if the pancakes are important. where would u mix the batter and wash mixing bowl and pan? How would eggshells be disposed? How will you prevent batter from dripping on grill which will be used for other meals or on patio surfaces? I would probably just use our camp stove then to cook grilled foods for Jesse separately, which may happen anyway depending on what gets put on the grill. Can u tolerate egg-free pancakes? egg replacers like flaxseed work really well in them except the egg’s protein/nutrition content is lost.

      If it’s essential for ur fam then u obviously have to do it. if you warn me before, P-Cs can skip out of house for breakfast when you do it and skip any stress, as well as avoiding the inevitable anxiety and exclusion Jesse and Nick will feel if everyone else is enjoying ‘cakes.

  2. how about keeping the eggy items off the common cooking areas like the outdoor grill and just doing what had been previously discussed which was to designate one of the two kitchens as an “egg” kitchen and the other as the “non-egg” kitchen?

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