Food Allergy Living Blog

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Halloween “Switch Witch”

Posted 10.29.14 | Rob McCandlish, RDN

We’ve heard loads of ideas from parents whose children with food allergies still want to go trick-or-treating for Halloween. With so many treats containing dairy, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, and wheat, it can be scary to face a full sack of candy at the end of the night. We really love the idea for the teal pumpkin project that FARE has rolled out this year! But we have another idea we wanted to share – the Switch Witch. 

We heard about the Switch Witch from dietitian presenting at a conference recently, so we can’t take any credit! Some families have been friends with her for a while, and it looks like a few have started a great partnership with her at After the trick-or-treating is over on Halloween night, children put their candy out for the Switch Witch. The Switch Witch visits the house overnight (or she may have come earlier in October for a longer visit) and takes the candy, leaving a gift in its place. (We have no idea what the Switch Witch does with all of that candy!) Some families of children who don’t have food allergies have also become friends with the Switch Witch, maybe keeping just a handful of candy for themselves.

What ideas have you found helpful to keep food allergic little ones engaged and involved at Halloween?


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food allergies  |  food allergy  |  milk allergy  |  holidays  |  Halloween  |  halloween tips  |  FARE

Everything You Need to Know About Neocate Nutra

Posted 10.17.14 | Nutrition Specialist

Our latest Neocate product video features everything parents and caregivers need to know about Neocate Nutra.


Click on the image below to watch the full video.


To learn more about Neocate Nutra, use the following resources:

Everything You Need to Know About Neocate Infant DHA/ARA

Posted 10.8.14 | Nutrition Specialist

At Nutricia we are dedicated to providing families and caregivers with products that offer the most nutritional while managing their little ones' food allergies. We are continuing our series of product videos, which highlights the nutritional and dietetic value of our Neocate products.

Below is our product video on Neocate Infant DHA/ARA. Click the image to play the video.

To learn more about Neocate Infant DHA/ARA please visit the following links:


Food Allergy Challenges - Be Prepared!

Posted 10.2.14 | Rob McCandlish, RDN

If you're a parent or caregiver to a child with food allergies, you know that visits to the doctor for food allergy challenges can be overwhelming and time-consuming. If you're new to these visits though, many parents end up at these visits feeling underprepared and unaware that the visit can sometimes last 3 to 4 hours. One food allergy parent we spoke with recently said she was caught off guard and unprepared for how long the visit was. Parents to small children know how difficult it can be to entertain them for 15 minutes, much less several hours!

If you're taking your little one in for food allergy challenges, make sure that you bring some items to entertain them, such as books, crafts, or a handheld game device. This can help you and them to pass the time, as you wait to see if there are any reactions to different amounts of the food being challenged.

For some great additional tips on how to prepare your child for the visit, things you need to do in advance, and topics you might want to discuss with the healthcare team beforehand, see this very helpful guide put out by Kids with Food Allergies.

What have you found helpful in preparing for food allergy challenges?


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Everything You Need to Know About Neocate E028 Splash

Posted 9.17.14 | Nutrition Specialist

At Nutricia we are dedicated to providing families and caregivers with products that offer the most nutritional while managing their little ones' food allergies. We know that many of you often have questions about the Neocate family of products, so we've created videos explaining each of the products' ingredients and nutritional value. You can watch our first video on Neocate Junior with Prebiotics, here.

Below is our product video on Neocate Splash E028. Click the image to play the video.



To learn more about Neocate E028 Splash please visit the following links:

If you have questions feel free to give our medical team a call at 1-800-365-7354. You can also follow us on Twitter @Neocate or like our Facebook page

KFA Mall Walk 2014

Posted 9.5.14 | Nutrition Specialist

On Sunday, September 7, Neocate will be participating in the Kids with Food Allergies (KFA) Strides for Safe Kids Mall Walk. The Mall Walk is an annual fundraising event created to bring awareness to food allergies while working towards finding a cure. This year's walk will take place at Plymouth Meeting Mall in Plymouth Meeting, PA. The Neocate team will be onsite providing free taste samples of Neocate Junior, Strawberry as well as talking with families about their specific food allergy needs and concerns. This year's fundraising is $50,000 and KFA is more than halfway there! With your support, we can help KFA meet their goal.

If you are in the Plymouth Meeting area, we encourage you to attend this great event. There will be exhibitions and free samples.

To learn more about the event and Mall Walks near you please visit,

We hope to see you there!

Read about our experience at previous Mall Walks here.


National Preparedness Month: How to Manage Food Allergies in an Emergency

Posted 9.2.14 | Nutrition Specialist

September marks National Preparedness Month, a time when families develop safety plans in the event of a natural disaster or emergency. At Nutricia, we've been thinking about our Neocate famililies and what it means to be prepared in light of having food allergies and facing a natural disaster. To help we have outlined a list of tips and resources for families to refer to as a tool to help manage food allergies in the event of an emergency.

1. Have a Sufficient Supply of Bottled Water: In the wake of disaster or an emergency, one of the first things to be impacted is the water supply. Families managing food allergies should be sure to keep a sufficient supply of bottled water for hygiene (hand washing, toliet flushing and teeth brushing) as well as food preparation. The Red Cross recommends having at least one gallon of water per person in a household. For example, if you have a family of three, you are encouraged to store away three gallons of bottled water.

2. Have a Sufficient Supply of Safe Foods: Managing food allergies can be challenging under normal circumstances. This becomes even more true when there is an emergency. FEMA suggests keeping three days worth of non-perishable safe foods to have as an eating supply during a natural disaster. Families using Neocate should remember that Neocate mixed formula is good up to four hours at room temperature.

3. Have a Sufficient Amount of Medical Supplies: During an emergency it is possible injuries may occur. To help alleviate the potential of growing injuries, be sure to have at least seven days worth of medical supplies on hand. This includes having an Epi-Pen in case of an anaphylatic attack.

With these tips, families will be more prepared in the wake of disaster. For more information on National Preparedness Month please visit: And for more tips on creating emergency plans visit



Tips for Going Back to School with Food Allergies

Posted 8.28.14 | Mallory West

It’s hard to believe that summer is over and the kids are heading back to school. When your child has food allergies, a new school year can be a little more complicated. In today’s post, we’ll share some tips and resources for a smooth transition back to school.

First and foremost, it’s essential to educate the new teacher and classroom aides about managing your child’s food allergies in the classroom since this is where your child will spend the most time. You also need to educate the school nurse and cafeteria staff. If possible, arrange a meeting with the new teacher, school nurse, and the head of the cafeteria staff prior to the beginning of school to discuss what is required to keep your child safe. Even if the staff has not changed from the previous school year, after 3 months away, it’s still a good idea to refresh them about your child’s needs.

If you don’t already have one in place, develop a food allergy action plan and ensure that everyone who cares for your child during the school day is aware of it. This includes not only teachers, nurses, and cafeteria staff, but also bus drivers, after-school caregivers, etc. Food Allergy Research & Education provides a template form that is very useful. If you already have an action plan in place, be sure to notify everyone about any changes or updates since last year.

If your child requires an Epi-pen, make sure to provide one to the school nurse, along with any other medications that may be required. Be sure to check the expiration date on the Epi-pen.

For more tips and resources on going back to school with food allergies, visit these links:

School planning for food allergic children

Safe@School™ with Food Allergies: Back to School Guide for Parents

Food Allergies 101: Back-to-School Safety  

Tips for keeping your food-allergic child safe in the classroom

Back-to-School is the Best Time to Get Allergy Ready


We hope everyone has a happy & healthy school year!




Photo: Flickr

Hypoallergenic Peanuts: What are they and what does it mean for parents of allergic children

Posted 8.19.14 | Mallory West

You may have seen recent reports in the news about newly-developed “hypoallergenic peanuts”. In today’s post, we’ll talk about this new technology and what it means to parents of children with peanut allergies.

An estimated 2.8 million Americans suffer from peanut allergies. For those with peanut allergies, peanuts can cause severe allergic reactions, including anaphylaxis.

Researchers at North Carolina A&T University developed a first of its kind food processing system that reduces the allergenicity of regular peanuts. Regular peanuts are treated with special enzymes, which the researchers have found reduces the levels of allergens in the peanuts by up to 98%!

At this point, only the science has been discovered, so you won’t find allergy-friendly peanuts and peanut products in the grocery stores just yet. However, North Carolina A&T State University researchers have teamed up with a company that hopes to commercialize the new technology, so you may see such products in the years to come.  

Although the idea of hypoallergenic peanut butter is exciting for those with peanut allergies, it’s important to remember that hypoallergenic does not mean non-allergenic. Although the special processing reduces the allergens in peanuts, it is still possible to have an allergic reaction to a less allergenic peanut because it only takes a trace amount of an allergen to trigger a reaction in very allergic individuals. When these products become commercially available, it’s important to consult with your child’s allergist before trying them. If you decide to trial them, be sure to do so under close medical supervision in case an allergic reaction occurs.  



What Do Allergen Advisory Labels Mean?

Posted 8.12.14 | Rob McCandlish, RDN

Have you ever picked up a packaged food item and seen one of the following statements?

  • Made on shared equipment with peanuts
  • Made in a facility that also processes wheat and dairy
  • May contain tree nuts
  • May contain traces of egg

Confusing, right? I always wonder if manufacturers use such statements just to cover their behinds. Any one of these statements is completely voluntary and unregulated. These types of precautionary labels cannot be used to assess the risk of an allergic reaction. In fact, research conducted in 2007 found that many individuals with peanut allergy ignore these advisory statements.(1) The researchers tested 200 products with a peanut advisory statement and found that most (90%) did not contain detectable peanut protein. Of the 10% that did contain detectable levels, 65% had a "clinically significant" amount of peanut protein. This translates to ~7% of the 200 tested products (all carried a peanut advisory label) being found to have a detectable amount of peanut protein that would likely pose a risk to most peanut-allergic individuals, and about 4% with a detectable level that was deemed "not clinically significant."

Because these advisory statements aren't regulated, an expert panel has recommended avoiding any foods labeled with a precautionary statement related to your food allergens.(2) If you or a family member has a food allergy, you should ask your healthcare team whether you need to rely on these advisory statements. When in doubt, it can help to contact the manufacturer to ask what they mean by the statement they use. It is also wise to err on the side of caution and contact the manufacturer even if the product doesn't have an advisory label related to your food allergen, just to be safe.

For an even more in-depth discussion, please turn to one of our trusted resources, Kids with Food Allergies. They have a great article here that does a better job of explaining this topic than we could! Sharon Wong also offers an explanation on a page of her website, geared toward peanut-free recipes.

What sort of food allergen statements have you seen during your recent grocery trips?


1. Hefle SL, et al. Consumer attitudes and risks associated with packaged foods having advisory labeling regarding the presence of peanutsJ Allergy Clin Immunol. 2007

2. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases - Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Food Allergy in the United States. 2007.



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About Us

Food Allergy Living is a resource for parents of children with food allergies, brought to you by Nutricia, the makers of Neocate. For more in-depth information about our purpose & authors, see our About Food Allergy Living page.