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food allergies travel

Summertime with Food Allergies

Posted 6.4.09 | Christine Graham-Garo

Your beginning to pull out the tank tops and shorts, the local park is getting crowded and the neighborhood pool is about to open. All of this must mean…it’s summertime! Many allergy parents breathe a sigh of relief when the school year is over. Not only does life slow down for a bit, but you also don’t have to fret about what your child’s friend brought for lunch or what type of cake is being used for the class birthday party.

However, the summer brings a whole new set of worries -- travel. It can often be difficult to be away from home for a long period of time with a baby or child with food allergies. You aren’t able to cook your normal meals and you don’t have the unlimited formula supply at your fingertips. But, with the right preparation, your trip will be allergy-free and will go off without a hitch.

Here are a few things I recommend:

  • Call ahead: Before you arrive at your hotel, call them to make sure the room is allergy-free -- including the mini-bar. Also, if you use a formula or you need to bring snacks that need to be refrigerated, see if that can be arranged.
  • Bring extra supplies: You never know when something unexpected might happen (i.e., hitting a bad patch of traffic or arriving at a location that doesn’t have your baby’s formula or allergy-prone child’s favorite allergy-free treat). Always pack an extra amount of food and formula.
  • Be happy: There’s nothing like a family vacation. Be vigilant of any potential allergens, but make sure to relax enough to enjoy this time with your family.

And for tips on how to fly with a baby that needs formula or medical foods, click here for a blog entry on the topic.

- Christine


Food Allergy Travel Tips: You Can Take It With You

Posted 11.4.08 | Guest Blogger

Here is a great guest blog entry for all of your upcoming holiday travels! 

Gina Clowes is the founder of AllergyMoms.com. We would like to thank her for guest blogging for us and sharing her family's allergy story.

Note: This article was originally written for Health Central: My AllergyNetwork.com. To view the article there, click here.

When you or a loved one have food allergies, it can be tough to avoid allergic reactions on the road. Here are five tips for managing food allergies while traveling (and they ensure that you have fun!).

After my son was diagnosed with food allergies, our traveling days came to an abrupt halt. To get back in the swing of things, we started slowly getting our feet wet by staying at the homes of close relatives . Gradually, we ventured out to hotels and condos. Today, we could probably camp out overnight with the contents of my purse! Traveling with food allergies does take more preparation but it’s worth it! If you’re feeling timid about taking food allergies on the road, here are a few tips to nudge you on your way.

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

A lot of allergy moms shy away from plane travel but if you fly first thing in the morning, and carry on your child’s food and drink, it can be quicker and easier than driving. Check out the airline’s policy on peanut or other allergens and always make your reservation over the phone. You can explain your child’s allergies in detail. Bring your own meals, snacks and wet wipes, so that you will reduce the risk of an allergic reaction. Make sure that your child’s Epi-Pen or Twinject is with you in its original packaging along with a letter from your doctor. We’ve never had anyone question my son’s medications, however, we did have the TSA agents confiscate several bottles of water that I had with us right after the restrictions on liquids went into effect.

Hotels and Condos and Relatives, Oh My!

If your child has multiple allergies, a hotel (or relative) with a kitchen is a must. I’ve heard of allergy moms making due with a refrigerator and a hot plate but I don’t recommend it. Vacation home condos are wonderful but often pricey. “Home-away-from-home” hotels, like the Residence Inn, are everywhere and most come with a full kitchen. Other hotels offer in-room refrigerators for a nominal charge or will store your cold or frozen foods if need be. We always request a non-smoking room, with foam pillows and no bedspreads on the bed. Several hotel chains offer “pure rooms” that are even more allergy friendly.

Happy Meals

If you do plan to venture out for meals, it pays to do the legwork ahead of time. Get a good guide book or research restaurants online. Several restaurant chains, like Outback Steak house, specifically address food allergies on their websites along with their menu. I always ask to speak with a manager or chef when ordering as we’ve found that many times the wait staff is unsure about specific ingredients. Many moms I know swear by a chef’s card as another layer of communication. And when in doubt, bring a few extras with you just in case. Safe bread, margarine, salad dressing and a treat for dessert will save the day in a pinch.

In the Bag

There is no getting around it; we don’t travel lightly. So first of all, type out a list of everything that you and your family need for traveling. Print out the list and cross off the items as they’re packed.

Your child’s special needs should be at the top of the list. Things like latex-free goggles, sunscreen, special soap, shampoos, Epi-Pen and other medicines, are not easily replaced so make sure you have what you need. Keep your child’s allergist’s number handy in the even that you have questions or need a refill while you’re on the road.

You can ship a box of staples directly to the hotel from home or from Amazon.com. Your rice milk, pasta, breads, cookies and crackers will all be there waiting for you. We always bring a cooler of frozen foods: safe hotdogs, casseroles, gluten-free, casein-free chicken tenders etc. If we fly, we simply duct tape the lid of the cooler shut and check it with our other baggage.

If you run out of room in your suitcases, cut back on the clothes you bring and throw in a load of laundry or two while you’re away. If you use a special detergent, pour enough for two loads into an empty bottle and wrap it with Glad Press n’ Seal.

Are we there yet?

Now, it’s time to relax right? Well, as my sister says “It’s not vacation, it’s relocation.” All the same stuff in a different place. Preparing to travel can seem like more work than planning a small wedding but you and your family deserve to travel and have fun. The memories of all of the extra packing and cooking will be gone in a few days while the memories of your kids playing on the beach or on their first airplane ride will be with you for ever.

- Gina Clowes


Airlines + Food Allergies = Stress?

Posted 6.4.08 | Sarah O'Brien

Let’s face it. Traveling with children at anytime can be a little stressful. The planning, packing and pricing is hard! Add a child with allergies, and even the coolest, most collected supermom can get a little stressed.

Of course, stories like this one don’t help:

“Tehmina Haque did take the necessary precautions before taking a flight from New York to Los Angeles with her 4-year-old son who is allergic to peanuts. For months, she was assured peanuts would not be served on the American Airlines flight, but on the day of, the flight attendants changed their mind and served the peanuts anyway. Tehmina is now suing the airline company.”

For the full story, click here.

I know this is a frustrating and scary article for food allergy parents. Even Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT), Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Subcommittee on Children and Families, deals with these food allergy issues. His daughter has a peanut allergy, and he recently spoke at a hearing to examine the impact of food allergies on children and families, and said:

“(W)e fly a lot, obviously, going back and forth to Connecticut a lot, and without naming any particular airlines, the difficulty sometimes of getting them to understand that peanuts — calling ahead of time, stopping at the gate before you get in, getting on the plane, invariably the flight attendants have not been told by anybody, so they then look at you with annoyance.”

But there are steps you can take to make airline travel easier with your allergy prone little one. Check out About.com for a checklist to prepare for flight travel. I really like the idea of taking an early morning flight because the flights are cleaned overnight, removing much of the allergens from the day before.

And for all you medical food/formula parents out there -- With all of the strict rules about carrying liquids onto planes, here are a few extra tips regarding bringing formula like Neocate on a plane:

  • You can still carry baby formula (and breast milk) in carry-on baggage, as long as you’re traveling with a baby or toddler;
  • Security officers will not taste the formula;
  • Juice and all other liquids are prohibited;

Overall, bring only as much formula as you need to get your little one to your final destination. Pack the rest (in powder form) in your checked luggage. This should help minimize the stress!

-Sarah


Video: How Neocate Spent Summer Vacation

Posted 5.17.12 | Nutrition Specialist

Planning a summer vacation?  Taking Neocate with you?  We want to come along!  Mallory, one of our nutrition specialists created this great video explaining how you can share with us all the fun places Neocate visits this summer: 

To recap, while on vacation this summer take a picture of you and your Neocate can or Splash box while out having fun or at any landmarks your family visits.  Then, once you’ve taken your picture post it on our Facebook wall with a caption telling us where you are.  This way we’ll get to see all of the fun places Neocate visits this summer!

 So, where are you and Neocate spending summer vacation?  Let us know by posting a comment in the comment section!  

 


Neocate Mixing & Storage Questions Answered – Round 2

Posted 4.28.16 | Nutrition Specialist

When it comes to mixing and storing formula, we’ve heard every question, usually more than once! A few months ago, we answered questions about mixing and storing Neocate products. This post was so popular that it helped spark additional questions from our Facebook followers as well as comments posted on our blog.

So here we go, Round 2!

Once Neocate formulas are prepared, how long until they go bad? Can I keep them longer in the fridge?

The important thing to remember is that our recommendations help to make sure that Neocate stays fresh and that it doesn’t have time to “go bad.” (Good Neocate is a nice guy; Bad Neocate is just plain mean!) “Going bad” is a nice way of saying that a food or formula sat around too long, and bacteria showed up and multiplied! This can make food or formula taste bad, smell bad, and possibly make you sick. Here’s a breakdown of the times we recommend:

24 hours – This is the amount of time that prepared Neocate powdered formulas can stay in the fridge, IF you put them in right after mixing. This also applies to Neocate Splash that’s been opened, but not if anyone has taken a drink directly from the container! If Neocate has been in the fridge longer than 24 hours, we recommend throwing it out.

4 hours – This is the amount of time that prepared Neocate powdered formulas (or opened or poured Neocate Splash) can sit out at room temperature. This can be either after being freshly mixed, or after being removed from the fridge. If it’s been on the counter at room temperature longer than 4 hours, throw it out!

1 hour – This is the amount of time that Neocate can be kept after someone starts to drink it. Like it or not, our mouths are full of bacteria that just love nutrient-rich formulas like Neocate. Once your baby, child, or you take a drink, start the clock and throw out what’s left after 1 hour. Safety first!

Can I make Neocate in advance and use it at a later time?

Sure! As long as you follow the rules above for storage times, you can prepare Neocate formulas in advance. We always recommend that freshly prepared formula is best, but we know it’s not always easy to mix it exactly when you need it. For further guidance, check with your healthcare team!

Note: We don’t recommend preparing Neocate Nutra - our hypoallergenic semi-solid - in advance, because the texture will actually become thicker over time AND thicker with refrigeration. However, the storage instructions for Neocate Nutra would be the same as for the Neocate formulas if your healthcare team is okay with the thicker texture.

 

Once I’ve mixed Neocate to store for later, do I put it straight into the fridge or do I need to cool it down first?

It’s best to cool the prepared Neocate quickly to get it below the “danger zone” at which bacteria grow best. Straight into the fridge for a bottle is fine, regardless of the water temperature used. That’s because small items will cool quickly in a fridge. However, if you mix a large volume of Neocate, such as for a full day, and store it in a large container, it will cool pretty slowly in the fridge. Here are two options:

  1. Use cold water to prepare the Neocate, so it doesn’t have much cooling to do.
  2. If you prepare the Neocate formula with warm or room temperature water, start by pouring it into the container you’ll store it in. Put the lid on. Then fill a large bowl or pot with ice water. Nestle the container with Neocate in the ice water. Rotate it every few minutes. This will cool it down quicker than the cold air in the refrigerator would. After about 20-30 minutes, it should be plenty cold, and you can move it to the fridge.

It’s important to note not to use hot water when mixing your formula.
(See what temperature water should be when used to mix Neocate formulas.)

What temperature should the fridge be when storing Neocate?

Ooh, good question! We actually don’t get this one very often. For storing anything perishable (food, leftovers, prepared Neocate, you name it), a refrigerator should maintain a temperature below 40° F (4° C).

Did you know that some spots in your refrigerator are colder than others? It’s true! In general, the door is the warmest part of the fridge. The coldest parts can vary based on the layout of the fridge (i.e. where the freezer and icemaker are).

Want a surefire way to know if your fridge is cold enough? Take it’s temperature! Place a cup of water in the fridge, add a thermometer, and wait a few hours. You can even move it around to different parts of the fridge to see the differences – just make sure you give the water a few hours to adjust to the new “climate.”

What is the best temperature for storing Neocate Splash? Can Neocate Splash drink boxes be stored in the refrigerator?

The best temperature for storing unopened Neocate Splash long term is room temperature. That’s because some nutrients don’t hold up well under heat, and some don’t do well in cold. So keep Neocate Splash away from sunny windows, air vents, hot appliances, and cold, drafty spaces. That goes for unopened cans of other Neocate products, too!

That said, you can put unopened Neocate Splash in the refrigerator ahead of time to cool down, such as for tomorrow’s lunch box. If it hasn’t been opened, we suggest you can keep it refrigerated for up to a week. This is because we just don’t know the effects that cold (but not freezing) temperatures over extended periods of time might have on levels of some nutrients. Remember though: If the drink box is open, it can only be refrigerated for up to 24 hours, but no more. And if someone has already taken a drink from the box, you’ve got 1 hour!

How should I prepare Neocate when going on a trip?

Ooh, you’re going on a trip? Where? Can we come? No, seriously, you don’t have to bring us with you, but feel free to share a picture of you traveling with Neocate on our Facebook or Instagram!

When you are going on a trip with prepared Neocate formula, follow these rules:

  • Mix no more Neocate formula than you need in 24 hours - otherwise you’ll have to toss what's left!
  • Keep it cold – below 40° F (4° C) – and store it for no more than 24 hours. That means you’ll need a well-insulated cooler and plenty of cold freezer packs or bags of ice.
  • If you use powdered Neocate formula, take extra cans, just in case.
  • If you use Neocate Splash, take extra drink boxes, just in case.
  • If you use Neocate Splash, keep unopened drink boxes away from extreme temperatures. That means don’t throw it in the trunk in the extreme heat of summer or bitter cold of winter for long periods of time, like road trips.
  • Check out post about flying with Neocate for more helpful tips.

Can you store Neocate frozen?

We don’t recommend it. Why, you ask? Plenty of other foods can be kept safely in the freezer longer than they can in the fridge, so why not Neocate? The short answer to this question is: we don’t know. Okay, that’s not a very fair answer, and it’s not the whole truth! The mid-range answer is that freezing temperatures can affect Neocate’s quality in ways we can’t predict. Still want more information, or don’t believe us? Here goes…

Freezing temperatures (below 32° F, or 0° C) can affect some nutrient levels. Some vitamins just don’t hold up well under really cold temperatures, and home freezers can actually get very cold! Also, frozen Neocate that thaws may discolor and/or separate into different layers. Gray Neocate in layers is not appealing! We cannot guarantee nutrient content or quality of Neocate products when frozen, which is why we don’t recommend it.

That said, some recipes that call for Neocate products are frozen, and frozen treats can be downright delicious. Ask your healthcare team for advice before you prepare Neocate in any of these recipes, or any way other than as directed on the packaging or as we suggest above. Find more information about cooking with Neocate.

Can I still use Neocate past the expiration date?

Nope! We absolutely don’t budge on this one. If you don’t like this simple, straightforward answer, you can read this post that spells out in detail why we can’t recommend using Neocate past the expiration date.

How do I ensure Neocate dissolves properly?

Like any powdered formulas, sometimes clogged nipples happen. Following these steps can help ensure that Neocate formulas dissolve well:

  • In general, the warmer the water, the better the vitamins, minerals, and amino acids in Neocate powders will dissolve.
  • The warmest water you should use is 122° F (50° C) to ensure the nutrient levels are not affected. (Water that temperature is pretty warm, but not uncomfortbly hot is our best description without pulling out a thermometer)
  • DO NOT use boiling water to prepare Neocate powders. While Neocate powders dissolve REALLY well in boiling water, it destroys a lot of important nutrients.
  • Stir or shake vigorously for the best solubility.
  • You can try allowing formula freshly mixed to "rest" for a few minutes and then give it another vigorous stir or shake.
  • If you still have trouble after trying the above tips, give us a call at 800.Neocate to let us know!

Again, if we didn’t answer your question, check this post with other common questions to see if we cover it there. If not, we’re happy to help in the comments section below! What other questions do you have about mixing, preparing, serving, or storing Neocate?

-Rob

You can trust me! I've worked at Nutricia as part of the Medical Affairs team since 2010! My job is answering Neocate questions, and if I don't know the answer to your question, I know where to get it! I'm also a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist.


3 Tips to Prepare for Summer Camp with Food Allergies

Posted 7.25.17 | Nutrition Specialist

Step #1: Research

Planning is always the key to success and essential when your little one has food allergies. Let’s discuss some tips and resources to help you research summer camps for your little one to be sure both your child and the camp are properly equipped to successfully manage their food allergies.

Questions that will need answers:

  • What is the camp menu and options for allergy friendly alternatives?
  • Is there a dedicated place for allergy friendly food or snacks to be stored?
  • Is there a dedicated place to store epinephrine at camp?
  • Is your child allowed to bring packed lunches/snacks? What about potential allergens from the other campers that will be attending camp with your little one?
  • Is there a food allergy management plan for the camp?
  • Is there a designated area for little ones with food allergies to eat?
  • What kind of camp staff are available for your child? Is there a healthcare professional on site?
    • If so, what are the healthcare professional’s credentials, responsibilities or capabilities?
    • If not, who is available to assist your child with any medical issues or medications?
  • What is the procedure for emergencies? Where is the nearest hospital or medical center?
  • What activities are offered that might elevate the allergen exposure for your child?

Resources to help you in your research:

Another good resource is the following recording of a webinar featuring Dr. Pistiner and Ms. Polmear-Swendris answering questions about how to choose a camp, what questions to ask of summer camp staff, how to store epinephrine at camp, and a review of basic food allergy management.

Step #2: Advocate

Now that you have done your research, it is time to start advocating for your child. Even if the camp you have chosen is well ahead of the food allergy game, your child is unique and truly one of a kind. It is your job to advocate for your child and make sure everyone is educated and prepared to provide the needed care for your little one specifically. The camp will need education regarding the details of your child’s food allergies, any signs or symptoms they need to be on the lookout for, as well as, what to do if an exposure is either suspected and/or confirmed. Here are the ABC’s of how to advocate for your camper:

  1. Notify everyone possible about your child’s food allergies. This might include:
    • The camp director
    • Staff assigned to work or interact with your child
    • All healthcare professionals available to your child while at camp
    • Anyone assisting in transportation
    • Staff working with food or staffing mealtimes
    • The camp lifeguard
    • And even any camp volunteers, special event or course instructors, or staff subs is that is possible.
  2. If there is no food allergy policy already in place, make sure to outline one that is tailored to your little one’s needs. If a policy exists, then you should still make sure and outline the details of how it will apply to your little one in particular
  3. Prepare an Emergency Care plan and Food Allergy Cards for reference to all who will need this information. Need some guidance to prepare these documents. Check out these resources:

Step #3: Educate

Now that the camp staff are prepared with the knowledge and tools they will need, time to be sure your camper knows how to advocate and care for themselves. After all, your child will be the best and first line of defense to prevent accidental exposure to allergens. If you need assistance, here is a Neocate blog with 3 Easy Steps for Success when Explaining Food Allergies to your Toddler.

Here are some quick items you may want to cover when educating your child to be ready for their summer camp adventure:

  • Discuss their red light and green light foods (or safe and unsafe) and what they can expect while at summer camp
  • Perhaps some reminders for rules when eating, such as not to share food with other campers
  • Their symptoms or reactions to food allergens
  • Who and to whom to tell if they feel funny, or what to do in certain camp situations
    • Not to go off alone if they are not feeling well
    • Where they can receive medical attention if needed
    • Where their important allergy documents are located
    • How to administer their medications, or epinephrine if needed
  • How to read a food label if possible, or who to ask for questions about the food options when at summer camp. Perhaps where their food allergy friendly snacks will be stored

     

  • If interested, this might be a wonderful time to get your little one a medical alert bracelet. There are many options available, including water proof ones that are perfect for summer!

Time for Summer Camp Fun

Keep in mind, getting ready for camp can be similar to how you get ready for a new school year or traveling. If you need additional tips on how to specifically travel this summer with Neocate, make sure to check-out Helpful Tips and Resources when Traveling with Food Allergies.

Now it is time for your little camper to get out and enjoy the summer camp fun. You have done your research, advocated for your little camper with staff, and educated your little one on how to have fun and stay safe while at camp. Time for the fun to begin.

Do you have any tips or suggestions to share? We would love to hear how you prepare for summer camp with food allergies, and especially how your little Neocate camper did at their summer camp. Please share in the comments below.

-Kristin Crosby MS, RDN, LDN



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.