Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Well, you learn something new everyday
Having a kid with food allergies can be challenging. It seems like I play a lot of guessing games & we learn about "hidden ingredients" the hard way. Like we did last night; I thought our dinner was safe for Logan to eat & it turns out he had his worst reaction yet.

Bill made cheeseburgers with fries & ketchup for dinner last night. It's been a meal that we've had before since Logan's allergy diagnosis & he's never had a reaction. I've made sure to read labels on everything to make sure there isn't egg or garlic in anything we eat. In being diligent about this, I've discovered that garlic is in a whole lot of foods we eat, like chicken bullion. I made sure to read the ketchup label & garlic was not listed as an ingredient. This is why I was shocked when Logan, (being great at dinner & finishing all of his food with very little of it going on the floor) began to breakout in hives & rashes an hour later.

He was playing around in the living room shirtless (because he smeared ketchup all over himself), racing cars & running around like a wild banshee. I began to notice hives popping up all over his stomach, chest & back. Then he started breaking out in rashes on his stomach, cheeks & chin. When it was time to get him ready for bed, his face was bright red & he was itchy all over, scratching mostly on his face & stomach. We gave him some Benadryl & I lathered him up with a cooling anti-itch lotion. He went to bed just fine & I made sure to check on him often (unintentionally waking him up every time). This is one of the first times I was really worried because it was the most serious food reaction he's had to date.

Bill swore up & down that it was probably a reaction to the cat because Logan was playing without a shirt & wrestling on the couch where Kitty tends to hang out. While I don't doubt that he may be allergic to the cat (& we're waiting for another referral to get him tested for it), I didn't think this was due to our pets. I had no idea what would cause him to have such an intense reaction like this.

After Logan & Bill went to bed, I was up late again (hello insomnia!) & decided to use my hours of time researching ketchup & garlic allergies. I found some pretty interesting stuff. First of all, garlic is an ingredient in Heinz ketchup. I found this little tidbit of information from dietfacts.com:

Tomato concentrate made from red ripe tomatoes, distilled vinegar, high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, salt, spice, onion powder, ("garlic powder" has now been omitted from the ingredient list here), natural flavoring.

Heinz purposely leaves out ingredients on their labels, using only "natural flavoring" to protect their secret recipe. That's great & all, but what if someone is allergic to their secret ingredients?! In order to find out this specific nutritional information (that can be life threatening to some very allergic people) you have to obtain a Doctors note stating the specific allergy & then the company can tell you if it's in the product or not.

Through the wonders of the internet & being able to connect with other moms who have children with garlic allergies, I found out that there are specific labeling laws regarding garlic! Garlic CANNOT be listed a "spice" on ingredient labels, however, garlic oil or garlic extract can be hidden under "natural flavorings". A general rule is, if it's a savory-type food & lists "natural flavorings" on the ingredeints list, avoid it. So, the rule is "spices" are fine, "natural flavorings" are not. Other products that have hidden garlic are chili powders (had no idea) & taco seasoning (we eat this frequently).

If Logan's Allergist told me any of this, we could have been saved a whole lot of hassle. Also, now that I have this very important information, this narrows down the food options by a ton. He's pretty much going to be able to eat what I can cook from scratch. Not that bad of a situation, but wow. Who knew it would get to this.


Ami said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ami said...

I have the same problem with MSG. It can be listed under 'natural ingredients' on the label if it contains less than a certain percentage of the damn stuff. I'm allergic to it. It raises hell with my digestive system, which sucks, but it also triggers migraines, which are utterly horrible. I have to be careful about labels, too. MSG is in sooo many things.

I'm glad your little guy is not having a life threatening reaction to the garlic, at least. We have a child in our after school program who is VERY allergic to peanuts. We have an epi pen for her, and I cross my fingers daily that we never, never have to use it.

the deleted comment was me, I edited for clarity

Liz said...

I can't imagine! And garlic, too. It's everywhere!

(I tagged you for a meme)

Jaime said...

Ugggg! How terrible, I can't even imagine how difficult this must be!