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Monday, December 5, 2011

It's the Most Dangerous Time of The Year

I'm not talking about my waistline, although that's true. Nor am I talking about New Years' Day traffic accidents. Here at Chez Gamers' Babes, it's all about the allergens.

I'm mildly allergic to cows' milk. This is not lactose intolerance - although I have that too - but an actual sniffly-sneezy-itchy allergy to whey, the primary protein in milk. Sheep or goat, fine. Cow or buffalo, notsomuch. I can usually manage a serving a day (provided there are no other allergens in my system, such as dog dander, alder pollen, or spider venom) without ill effect. And I'm - y'know - an adult, so I can swallow a Benadryl and take my chances. I have a pretty good handle on it.

And then there's Abby and the Nut Allergy of Doom. She is anaphylactic to cashews and pistachios (we discovered the allergy with a can of mixed nuts; she ate the cashew and bang! Hospital time). She gets sniffles and itchy skin to the point of scratching it all off with all other "true tree nuts" and with mangoes. That's almonds, hazelnuts/filberts, walnuts, pecans, brazil nuts, macadamia, and pine nuts. Coconut and other palm-based nuts are not truly nuts, (nor are peanuts), but we tend to avoid them for her because they're often cross-contaminated. She did manage a fun-size butterfinger (peanut) this halloween with no ill effects, but she didn't like it well enough to take the cross-contamination risk again. We thought she was having a reaction to the "may contain traces of tree nuts..." in candy corn, but it turned out to be traces of almonds in her chocolate soy milk (safeway.com no longer carries the Silk light, and the regular "may contain...". I have an email in to Silk). So we're very careful. And vigilant; things like a knife used to cut pumpkin pie after it's used on pecan can invite disaster, and unless one is aware of it, one has no way to know. Abby herself is pretty good about it (she even taught her Brownie troop when and how to use an epi-pen), but she is only not-quite-nine after all.

Enter Tiffany, mother of Abby's future husband Greg (if Abby and Greg have their way; they are only nine), and allergen-aware Fudge Confectionery Chef. She makes fudge every year (assorted flavors, all gluten-free (even the Cookies-n-Cream!) and all but Peanut Butter nut-free as well) and this year she's selling some (click this link!). And she is so conscious of the cross-contamination potential that she makes the Peanut Butter last of all, after the rest are packaged safely out of the way. This is huge - even the professionals aren't usually that careful.

We're ordering three pounds. Which gets back to the waistline issue. But that's a separate post.

ETA: I just got off the phone with the White Wave people - who make the Silk products.They test the equipment and the products before, during, and after production, and they destroy any product that is contaminated.

But of course there's always human error.

And they saw that if she ever has any reaction - no matter how mild - to any of their products again, to please call them and they will take down numbers and have their quality control people check that batch.

So they take it very seriously.

I heart them.