Food Allergy Living Blog

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Top 5 Food Allergy Apps

Posted 4.15.15 | Nutrition Specialist

It wouldn’t be wrong to say that we live in an ‘Appy World’ with several mobile applications available to manage our day-to-day activities. With rapidly evolving technology, managing food allergies has become easier. There are several apps that tell you what is in your food, show you how to administer epinephrine, and identify safe food options when you’re traveling or away from home. Here are our top five picks for the best food allergy apps:

·    Sometimes it’s difficult to search for an ‘allergy-friendly’ restaurant while you’re travelling across the US. Download Allergy Eats, it offers a database of restaurants organized by city, zip code, or your current GPS location. With this app you can also review peer-ratings of the restaurants’ allergy-friendliness, and post your own ratings. This app is available in the iPhone and Android store for free. 

·         My Food Facts allows you to shop for groceries and identify food allergens in a product by simply scanning its barcode. All you have to do is create a personal profile that summarizes your food allergies. The app sends alerts to the shopper if food allergens are present in the scanned product, taking out the guess work. 

·        The My EpiPlan app includes everything from management to tips. It also has information on step-by-step use of an EpiPen. The app helps you keep track of which allergens you and your family need to avoid, and where your EpiPen (epinephrine) Auto‑Injectors are located and when they expire. The app is available in the iPhone and Android store for free.

·         iAvoid Food Allergy is a simple and user-friendly app designed for the food allergy community that helps to identify and avoid products and ingredients responsible for the eight most-common food allergies.

·         Allergy Journal allows you to track your food allergy symptoms and log what foods you are eating. The journal allows you to quickly scroll through all of the entries you’ve created, showing foods and symptoms in different colors for easy identification.

We would like to hear from you about the apps you use to manage your family’s food allergies. Do you have an app you love more than these? Please share it in the comments. 

Corn Allergy 101

Posted 4.9.15 | Nutrition Specialist

As a Nutrition Specialist here at Nutricia North America, I spend a lot of time talking to patients, parents, and health care professionals. Some of the questions I receive most often are “Do Neocate products contain any ingredients derived from corn?” and “Are Neocate products safe for an individual with a corn allergy?” Before we delve into these questions, let’s discuss the basics of a corn allergy.

Allergic reactions to corn are rare and often difficult to diagnose using standard skin or blood tests. Because a corn allergy can be difficult to diagnose through traditional methods, your allergist may recommend a food elimination diet in which you avoid corn and any derivatives of corn, for a specific period of time (normally two to four weeks). During this time, symptoms will be monitored, specifically to determine if there is an improvement in symptoms while corn is eliminated from the diet, and if symptoms reoccur when corn is reintroduced. If a corn allergy is identified by the allergist, treatment would involve avoidance of corn and ingredients derived from corn.

Corn is not among the top eight food allergens in the United States, for which special label information is required by the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004. Because corn is not required to be called out on the label, it is important for an individual with a diagnosed corn allergy to become familiar with ingredients that are derived from corn. Some common sources of corn are:

  • Corn starch
  • Corn syrup
  • Maltodextrin
  • Vegetable oil
  • Cellulose
  • Caramel

Please note, these are just a few examples and not a comprehensive list of ingredients derived from corn. If you are ever unsure as to whether an ingredient is derived from corn, it is best to contact the manufacturer.

Now that we have a basic understanding of a corn allergy, let’s address these frequently asked questions as mentioned earlier. The primary carbohydrate source in each of our Neocate products is derived from corn: The primary carbohydrate source in powdered Neocate products is corn syrup solids, while the primary carbohydrate source in liquid Neocate products is maltodextrin. Corn syrup solids are derived from corn starch, and maltodextrin is structurally similar to corn syrup solids. These ingredients are often used in nutritional formulas as a carbohydrate source because they offer a blend of simple and complex carbohydrates. In Neocate products, they are used in proportion with amino acids and fat to provide a balanced nutritional profile. No Neocate products are completely free of corn-derived ingredients.

That being said, the carbohydrates used in all Neocate products undergo extensive refinement in a multi-step process that includes purification, distillation and drying. This process is designed to remove impurities, including protein and fat that are naturally present in corn. As proteins are what the body responds to in a typical allergic reaction, this removes the trigger for patients with a corn protein allergy. With that said, we cannot make the claim that our Neocate products are completely “corn protein free”. In order to make such a claim, each and every batch would need to be tested for the presence of corn protein, which we do not do.

We cannot say with certainty that Neocate is “safe” for anyone – that’s a question for your healthcare team. It is important to note that leaders in food allergy diagnosis and management, such as those at the Jaffe Food Allergy Institute at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, find a majority of patients with corn protein allergies tolerate refined corn syrup solids with no allergy symptoms. In practice they do not restrict corn syrup solids in the diets of patients who are allergic to corn. If you have questions about the safety of the corn syrup solids or maltodextrin in Neocate, it would be best to discuss this with your healthcare team, especially the allergist, to see if they recommend a supervised trial or other testing to see if Neocate is appropriate.

Since we’re on the topic of corn, I figured I would mention two facts that are of importance to many Neocate families. The corn from which Neocate's carbohydrate ingredients are sourced is certified by the suppliers not to be genetically modified. In addition, the corn syrup solids used in Neocate products would not be expected to contain fructose and are not the same as “high fructose corn syrup” or “HFCS”. HFCS is produced from corn starch in which about half of the glucose molecules have been chemically converted to fructose. Many consumers prefer to avoid HFCS for a number of reasons, and we do not use this ingredient in Neocate products.

-Kendra Valle, RDN


Image source: Liz West


Dry-roasted Peanut Allergy Research

Posted 4.7.15 | Nutrition Specialist

In research shared at the end of last year, a team from Oxford University shared research that suggested that dry-roasted peanuts may be more likely to provoke a peanut allergy than peanuts exposed to lower levels of heat in mice. You can read part of their findings, which were shared in a Letter to the Editor in the well-known Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. The team exposed two groups of mice without a peanut allergy to different types of peanut protein. One group got protein from raw peanuts and the other group got protein from dry-roasted peanuts. The mice that got protein from dry-roasted peanuts were much more likely to develop a peanut allergy. You can read the lead researcher’s press release here.

The Oxford team proposed that the higher temperatures seem to make the proteins in peanuts change in a way that makes them more likely to influence the mouse immune system. This may be different from the way other common food allergens behave when heated. For instance milk and egg proteins are broken down by exposure to heat, such as in baked goods. That’s why some allergy research teams are studying how small amounts of baked goods that contain milk or eggs can help some people with those food allergies better tolerate those foods over time. (Make sure you ask your allergy team about this if you’re curious – DON’T try it on your own!)

What’s the key take-away message? At this time, the findings from this research only tell us about mice. However, the research in mice suggests that dry-roasted peanuts may play some role in humans developing a peanut allergy. There are many other factors that influence development of food allergies. More research needs to happen before we’ll know whether dry-roasted peanuts and their products play a role in developing allergies and whether it would help anyone to avoid them.

- Rob

Image c/o Daniella Segura

Allergy-Friendly Easter Egg Hunts

Posted 4.2.15 | Nutrition Specialist

Easter egg hunts put the fun into Easter Sunday and are a great way to engage kids in physical activity. We LOVE egg hunts!  Here are great tips to plan your own allergy-friendly Easter egg hunt this weekend:

1.      A win-win-win trade in:  Have the kids participating in the egg hunt exchange plastic eggs for prizes of their choice.  Prizes can be anything! This way you don’t have to worry about food allergies, stuffing individual eggs and it’s a healthier option because it deducts excessive sugar.

2.      Let the clue come to you:Older kids can enjoy finding eggs filled with clues for a grand prize at the end of the hunt. The grand prize can be a basket with goodies like cool school supplies, small tech prizes or gift cards.

3.      Safe for all: It’s always better to be safe than sorry. If you plan to stuff the Easter eggs, make them all safe. Little ones can get shy while talking to adults who are not their parents. Keeping this in mind, keep all the stuffing allergy-friendly.

4.      Think beyond food treats: Non-food prizes can make great gifts inside or outside the Easter eggs. There is a wide variety of gifts for kids which include: mechanical pencils, tattoos, coloring books, boxes of crayons and cool erasers which you can distribute worry-free. These treats keep the little ones occupied and engaged in the egg hunt.

5.      Pre-planning for candy options: There are many allergy-friendly candy options available in the market for your little guests with food allergies. You can research on these options before hand by getting in touch with the parents of invitees for the egg hunt. Share the final list with all the parents to make sure all the candies listed are safe for all.

6.      Healthy finger foods:It doesn’t harm to have a few food items for the egg hunt. Fresh and thin cut veggies like carrots, celery and roasted peppers are safe and healthy.

With numerous special occasions and festivals each year, we are sure that kids with food allergies have learnt to advocate for themselves. Keep preparing your kids the same way. Neocate wishes its community a delicious allergy-friendly Easter! 

Find a Pharmacy: New Zip Code Search

Posted 3.31.15 | Nutrition Specialist

At Neocate we are always looking new ways to improve our community experience. It is critical that the families who rely on Neocate have access to the most accurate and reliable information. This includes knowing where to find Neocate. 

To ensure the search is seamless, we have created a new zip code search tool on our website. The zip code search will allow parents and caregivers to enter their zip code and locate the closest pharmacy carrying Neocate.


With this new tool, families can spend less time worrying about where to find Neocate and more time enjoying precious moments with their families.

You can access the new tool here. If you have any questions about Neocate our customer support center is always ready to help. Give us a call at 1-800-365-7354.

Food allergies, food allergies go Away!

Posted 3.26.15 | Nutrition Specialist

Thumb-sucking, diapers, and baby talk are outgrown at some point by most children. So what about outgrowing food allergies?

Allergies are the result of the immune system gone awry, when the body mistakenly believes a food to be dangerous and overreacts to protect itself. Food allergies can be short-lived or can last a lifetime. Today, there are more kids with food allergies, fewer kids are outgrowing them, and for those who do outgrow them, it’s happening later in life. Food allergies that are outgrown may even resurface later in life. It would be great if food allergies were like a Houdini act and we could make them disappear! Sometimes food allergies are a guessing game, but we know of a number of factors that we think influence food allergy longevity and when a child outgrows them. Here are just a few standouts.

Influencing factors

  1. The Food Culprits
       There seems to be a pecking order to outgrowing food allergies. Milk, eggs and soy tend to be outgrown more easily and earlier than allergies to nuts and seafood. Research findings point to the easy breakdown of milk and egg proteins in food preparation, especially in baking as the dry heat is able to break down the proteins. Other food proteins are built tougher, are more resistant to breakdown, and are thus more allergenic even after cooking.
  2. Mean Genes
       Ethnicity, gender, and genetics may impact whether and when you see diminishing or disappearing food allergies. Odds are stacked against African American children, females, children with multiple food allergies, those with more severe food allergic reactions, and those with food allergy that develops later in life.
  3. Location, location, location!
       Where you live may play a role in your allergy profile too. This may be associated with different environments and eating habits of your home and neighborhood. Southern living in America may find you more prone to developing allergies than your Northern countrymen, and urban dwellers may be more prone to allergy than their rural counterparts.

Treatment, testing and tolerance

Approaches abound for tolerance testing and even inducing tolerances to certain allergies. Following are a few of the trending tests and tolerance inducing approaches. These should always be conducted under medical supervision, as potential for severe reactions is possible.

  1. Under the tongue
       Known as sublingual or oral immunotherapy (SLIT or OIT), this is a method associated with allergy testing and may also be effective in building tolerance to certain foods. A small amount of offending food is placed under the tongue or in the mouth and reaction monitored. Ask your allergy care team if this is an option for you.

  2. Bites of baked goods
       Sometimes called the baked good challenge, children are given samples of pancakes, muffins and other baked goods with incremental increases in the portion size offered when positive tolerance is demonstrated.

  3. Early Exposure
       Recent research has suggested that offering foods that are common allergens to infants when they are ready to start solid foods may actually help prevent the risk of developing food allergies for some. This is counter to the still common approach of waiting until later ages (1 to 2 years old) to introduce these foods, which may actually increase the risk of developing a food allergy for some individuals, especially those deemed at high risk for food allergies.

Efforts continue to explore the science behind the basis of food allergies as many mysteries remain. Still hard to explain is the who, what, when, why, and where of allergies. As it is, there is no magic pill, potion, or trick that can make food allergies go away. Yes, some children will have their food allergies diminish and disappear and some children will outgrow them. While waiting for Houdini to make them go away for good, there are support and resources that can help.

Consider the following organizations:

What has your family’s experience been with outgrowing food allergies?

-Jody L. Benitz, MS, RDN


Painter K. Food allergies outgrown by more than one in four kids. USA Today website. Accessed March 23, 2015.

NIAID-Sponsored Expert Panel, Boyce JA, Assa’ad A, et al. Guidelines for the diagnosis and management of food allergy in the United States: report of the NIAID-sponsored expert panel. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2010;126(6 Suppl):S1-S58.

Gupta RS, Springston EE, Warrier MR, et al. The prevalence, severity, and distribution of childhood food allergy in the United States. Pediatrics. 2011;128(1):e9-e17.

Food Allergy Sensitization — New Study Finds Geography Plays a Role. By Sherry Coleman Collins, MS, RDN, LD.Today’s Dietitian, July 2014, Vol. 16 No. 7 P. 12.

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Eosinophilic Esophagitis and Adults

Posted 3.25.15 | Nutrition Specialist

I thought eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE) was only a medical problem for children!

We write a lot about children, but adults can have food allergy-associated disorders as well.  One such medical problem that can occur in adults, as well as children, is eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE), which is now more frequently diagnosed as a disease in adults.  EoE may affect up to one in 1,000 people.

What is EoE?

EoE defines a specific inflammatory disease of the esophagus (the tube from your mouth to your stomach) that is characterized by the infiltration of a large number of eosinophils, a type of white blood cell, in the lining of the esophagus. Eosinophils aren’t normally found there!

These are digital pictures of stained eosinophils from an electron microscope.  The top two pictures are eosinophils from circulating human blood (where eosinophils are normally found).  The bottom two pictures are eosinophils in mouse bone marrow and culture.

Eosinophils travel to various structures of the body, primarily the digestive tract, and function to help fight different types of infections. However, eosinophils are not normally found in the esophagus.  When they are present, this is an indication of inflammation, which may be due to food allergens (e.g. milk, soy, egg) and perhaps environmental allergens. 

What are the symptoms of EoE?

EoE symptoms can vary between individuals and can be similar to other conditions, such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) (acid reflux) and other conditions. 

These symptoms may include:

  • Nausea and/or vomiting 
  • Heartburn or acid reflux that does not improve after taking appropriate medications
  • Chest and/or abdominal pain
  • Dysphagia (difficulty and/or pain with swallowing)
  • Feeling that food is stuck in the throat or chest
  • Food impaction (food that gets stuck in the throat)

When should I visit the doctor if I think I have problems with my esophagus?

Always see your doctor sooner vs later, if you think you have any medical problems.  Medical problems can worsen over time or increase your risk for other diseases.

One of the major complications of EoE is stricture formation (extreme narrowing) of the esophagus.  One study of about 350 patients found that a longer delay in EoE diagnosis was linked to the occurrence of esophageal strictures.  Thus the risk of developing esophageal strictures is significantly associated with the length the time period from appearance of first symptoms to establishment of EoE diagnosis.

How is EoE diagnosed?

In order for your doctor make a diagnosis, a thorough history will need to be taken to determine potential causes for your symptoms.  The most reliable test for EoE is made by endoscopy and biopsy.

An endoscopy is a medical procedure that allows your doctor to look inside the digestive tract. A thin, flexible, lighted tube called an endoscope is guided into the mouth and throat, then into the esophagus, stomach and duodenum (start of the small intestine). The endoscope allows your doctor to view the inside of this area of the body, as well as to insert instruments through a scope for the removal of small tissue samples called biopsies.  A pathologist reviews the biopsies to determine the quantity of eosinophils and signs of tissue damage.  A high level of eosinophils could indicate that you have EoE.

If you are diagnosed with EoE, you will probably be tested for food allergies.  In some situations, avoiding certain food allergens will be an effective treatment for EoE.

How is EoE nutritionally or medically managed?

Diet changes and/or medications can help with the EoE symptoms and prevent further damage to the esophagus.

Nutrition management of EoE is helpful for many people.  Healthcare professionals may recommend a “food elimination diet” that removes between four and eight of the most common allergenic foods, which includes milk, soybeans (soy), eggs, tree nuts (e.g., almonds, walnuts, pecans), peanuts, wheat, fish (e.g., bass, flounder, cod) and crustacean shellfish (e.g., crab, lobster, shrimp).  A Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) can be of great help with the “elimination diet” and nutrition management of EoE.  Some healthcare professionals eliminate the foods that tested positive through allergy tests.

In some cases, an elemental diet is required; this diet does not contain any whole or partial proteins for the body to react to.  An elemental diet is usually a liquid formula that contains amino acids (the building blocks of proteins), fats, sugars, vitamins and minerals.  Elemental formulas are developed to meet all or most individual’s nutritional needs; the amount of formula recommended is based on your specific nutritional requirements.  These elemental formulas include products such as Neocate® Junior, Neocate® Junior with Prebiotics and Neocate® Splash or E028 Splash. Neocate® Nutra is an amino acid-based semi-solid food that allows people on an elemental diet to keep some variety in the diet.

If there are improvements of symptoms and/or decreased eosinophils in the esophagus after the elimination diet or elemental diet, food trials with reintroduction of individual foods begins.

Some individuals do not respond fully to nutrition management, so medications are an option.  Although the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had not approved any medications for management of EoE, doctors have found that certain types of steroids can help decrease the esophageal inflammation.  Drugs, such as budesonide or fluticasone propionate, are swallowed so that the drug directly touches the esophagus to help decrease the inflammation.  Some individuals find that EoE symptoms completely resolve, but if the drug is discontinued the symptoms return.

What other questions do you have about EoE?

-Kathleen Smith, RDN, LDN



National Institute of Health, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease. Food Allergy.  Available from Accessed March 19, 2015.

National Institute of Health, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease.  Eosinophilic Gastrointestinal Disorders.  Available from Accessed March 19, 2015

Schoepfer AM, Safroneeva E, Bussmann C, Kuchen T, Protmann S, UweSimon H, Straumann A.  The Delay in Diagnosis of Eosinophilic Esophagitis Increases Risk for Stricture Formation in a Time-Dependent Manner.  Gastroenterology 2013 Dec; 145 (6): 1230-1236.e2.  Published Online: August 15, 2013 DOI: Accessed March 19, 2015

Liacouras CA, Furuta GT, Hirano I, Atkins D, Attwood SE, Bonis, PA, et al. Eosinophilic esophagitis: Updated consensus recommendations for children and adults.  Journal of  Allergy and Clinical Immunology 2011;128:3-20.e6.

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Do You Know the Signs? Understanding Cow Milk Allergy

Posted 3.23.15 | Nutrition Specialist

With the rise in food allergies among children, it is increasingly important for parents and caregivers to recognize the signs and symptoms of food allergies. Among foods that are common allergens, cow milk allergy (CMA) remains the most prevalent in infants and children. 

In the following video, "8 Signs of a Cow Milk Allergy," our nutrition specialists Rob, RDN and Mallory break down eight of the most common signs of CMA, which were provided by a pediatric allergist.


Click the image below for the video:



For more information on cow milk allergy, check out the following resources:

Overcoming Feeding Tube Fear: A Parent’s Perspective

Posted 3.12.15 | Guest Blogger

Hillary Savoie, PhD is the Chief Communications Maman at the Feeding Tube Awareness Foundation(FTAF). She is also the founder and director of the Cute Syndrome Foundation(TCSF). Her daughter Esmé, who has two rare genetic disorders PCDH19 Epilepsy and SCN8A, is four years old and the inspiration for her work with FTAF and TCSF. This post has been adapted from a post on The Cute SyndromeHillary’s blog about life with her Esmé.

Hillary Savoie









Photo credit: Tracey Buyce Photography, Photo courtesy of The Cute Syndrome Foundation

My daughter Esmé has never had an uncomplicated relationship with food. Her very low tone and poor swallowing reflex makes it extraordinarily difficult for her to eat or drink by mouth easily or safely. So, at 3 ½ months-old Esmé had a feeding tube (G-tube) surgically placed in her abdomen. In the four years since then she has consumed virtually all of her calories, water, and medications this way.

I wish I could tell you that I was welcoming of this change, that I was proud of Esmé’s tube from the day it was placed. But I wasn’t. It is embarrassing for me to say, given how I now feel about my daughter’s feeding tube, but I was very resistant to tube-feeding at first.

It took months before I was able to realize that tube-feeding Esmé wasn't a parenting failure. It was a parenting triumph.

And the thing is, my love for the tube now seems so simple to me: My daughter’s feeding tube gave her a chance at life, a chance she would not have otherwise had. What is less simple, however, is why it would take me so long to learn to be proud of the small plastic device that helps keep my daughter alive, thriving, and safe. When I stop to think about it, I believe that my initial fears about tube-feeding had so much to do with my ignorance of feeding tubes.

Like many people I didn't really know much about feeding tubes—until I was faced with the prospect of Esmé having one.

The only experience I had with a feeding tube prior to having Esmé was one that I only understand now that I mother a child who has a tube. I went to Kindergarten with a little boy who I knew had some kind of health challenges. He wore a bandage on his stomach every day. I recall that we knew to be gentle with him—that there was something different about his body—but no one ever really talked to us about how or why.

It was a mystery to me. He and I were friends in the manner of many little kids—he chased me on the playground and tried to kiss me. I could outrun him, but I didn’t. I can still remember playing with him one day at the swing set. He lifted his arms up and as his shirt rose, I could see the large piece of gauze stretched across his belly. I was curious, so I asked him about it. He tried to explain something to me about how he ate, lifting up his shirt so I could see more, but before he could show me he was herded away by some well-intentioned adult. I felt ashamed, certain I had done something wrong. I’m quite sure he did as well.

It makes perfect sense to me now. He must have had a feeding tube, and he was not supposed to show it or talk about it. I have thought about that moment hundreds of times since Esmé's tube was placed. I have thought about how, if he had been allowed to explain, to show the phenomenal device that helped keep him able to chase me, that years later I might have understood sooner that this same tube could help my daughter have a fuller life.

I might have agonized less if I had known more.

The Feeding Tube Awareness Foundation

I joined the Feeding Tube Awareness Foundation staff two years ago. I am so proud of the work that we do helping parents of children who are tube-fed share their knowledge with each other and with medical professionals. We help to establish a positive image of feeding tubes, to spread knowledge about life with feeding tubes, and to support families to help feel empowered to care and advocate for their children who are tube-fed. I feel confident that, as a direct result of that work, if I were a little girl on the playground today being chased by an adorable little boy with a feeding tube, my question about his tummy would more likely be met with an open dialogue about the miracle that is tube feeding—that he would have been able to proudly display the little device that kept him thriving.

And then, we'd have gone back to playing.



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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.