I was in Vancouver yesterday demonstrating Nonuttin’ products for the various chefs, caterers and suppliers who will be very busy during the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics and Paralympics next February and March. Few of these professionals will actually be feeding the athletes at the games as the majority will be taking care of the vast business surrounding the games: sponsors, corporate guests, media, governments, visitors, etc.
Talking to the executive chefs at many of the top hotels in Vancouver, I saw that there is a keen understanding of special dietary needs for all meals of the day although we were focusing on Nonuttin’ products as an option for breakfast and snacks. Some smaller caterers that I talked to though, felt that the the requests that they got for various food allergies and gluten intolerances were too overwhelming. Add in the concerns about cross contamination and they’ve thrown up their hands in despair. Instead, they’d prefer to indicate to their patrons that nothing they produce for different catering events are safe for any of those with Celiac or food allergies.
I do think that things will change. Take vegetarian meals for instance. At one point, no caterer would offer a vegetarian entree, but now we see (at least here on the West Coast) at least one vegetarian and perhaps even vegan options offered at every catered event.
Running a manufacturing company, I do understand that the controls required can be overwhelming but I don’t think that they are insurmountable. I’d rather see the fear taken out of the equation and some education to occur from our regional health inspectors so that caterers can see that offering at least some options for specialty diets is doable. And given the increase in food allergies, Celiac disease, cultural and religious dietary needs, any caterer who doesn’t keep up may find themselves with few clients left to serve.
The CBC ( Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) had a really informative documentary recently on their Passionate Eye program called Allergy Planet. Unfortunately, I wasn’t aware that the documentary was on and I only caught the last half hour.
What I did see was fascinating. What I thought was really interesting was that scientistis believe the antibody Immunoglobulin E (IgE) was created in the body to fight parasites. Since our bodies generally no longer fight parasites, the IgE has turned on what should be innocuous substances such as food, creating a surge in food allergies but also in other immune diseases such as asthma. This gives further credence to the Hygiene Theory.
I saw a small part of the program that followed a woman who believed she had allergies and sensitivities to essentially everything from the car steering wheel to her fridge and wore gloves and used oxygen constantly. While scientific studies hadn’t been able to bear out all of those allergies, she felt she couldn’t cope in the outside world and had isolated herself to get some relief.
One portion of the program dealt with scientific studies of Barbados due to the significant increase in asthma and allergies there over the last several decades. So far, the studies have shown that the air pollution is non-existent on the island due to its isolation. Conclusions drawn from the studies so far seem to indicate that modernization (including better hygiene) and genetics seem to be creating the perfect storm for asthma and allergies to explode. See http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/7766656.stm for further information on this particular issue.
Overall, the portion of the documentary I saw was very well done and I’ll try to keep an eye on when it might be on again. You can also watch the schedule for your own interest at: http://www.cbc.ca/documentaries/passionateeyemonday/2009/allergyplanet/.
I’m on a lot of different news lists and have been absolutely inundated over the last 10 days or so with research, interviews and more coming from the allergy world. Here are some links that may be of interest to you:
Black male children have a 4 times greater possibility of developing food allergies: http://www.nydailynews.com/lifestyle/health/2009/03/18/2009-03-18_black_male_children_are_four_times_more_.html
Parents of Australian food allergic children found to lack food allergy awareness in a recent study: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2009-03/ra-cpl031609.php
Kids found to be misdiagnosed with food allergies on a regular basis and that skin and blood tests aren’t reliable on their own: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=101944263
Finally! After many months of contemplation, the Nonuttin’ blog has begun.
For those of you who follow our enewsletter, you’ll know that I’m never short of words but it would be really nice to have the enewsletters be shorter with the introduction of the Nonuttin’ Notes. But don’t unsubscribe from your enewsletter just yet!
Following the enewsletter is still a must because there will be exclusive enewsletter deals along with product and allergy/gluten free world information but the blog will give the ability for us here at Nonuttin’ to keep you informed on an ongoing basis. Enjoy!
Our family just got back yesterday from Tofino where we took the Manitoba in-laws for their first look at the Pacific Rim National Park, gray whales, sea otters, rain, rain, rain and…snow. Ah, nothing like spring on the west coast of Canada!
Like many allergy families, we got a kitchenette and dragged all of our own food along so that we wouldn’t have to eat out. Despite all of the careful attention to detail, I had a bit of anxiety when it came time to bedtime. While the suite slept 8, 2 of those 8 were on a pullout and we had planned to have our allergic child there so us parents could have a little privacy.
But, I just couldn’t put her on the pullout when so many people sit and eat on the sofa. We ate at the sofa while we were there since there wasn’t quite enough room at the table. While we weren’t eating nuts, how many people had sat there before us? How many people would come later that have allergies to wheat from our breadcrumbs? In the end, I ended up sleeping with said allergic child in a bed while our oldest daughter was alone on the pullout.
My husband thought I was going a bit overboard but in the end, I managed to sleep (somewhat, given her elbow in my throat), knowing that we were sleeping in the room farthest from the kitchen.