Food Allergy Living Blog Tagged Results


Elimination Diets and ADHD

Posted 4.12.11 | Christine Graham-Garo

In light of a recent New York Times article highlighting the link between artificial dyes and ADHD in children, we felt we should further explain how this debate originally started. A couple of days ago there was a spark in the news about the government reevaluating the safety of food dyes found in many everyday foods we all have in our pantries. The evaluation came when select studies were suggesting a link between food dyes and ADHD in children. In the end, the FDA did not find a link between food dyes and ADHD as the results of the studies were not substantial enough to make that claim.

Are elimination diets effective in helping with ADHD?

There is a recent article from February that confirmed an elimination diet that was made up of only rice, meat, vegetables, pears, and water was found to improve behavior in hyperactive children. As a caveat, 36% of the participants did not respond to the diet at all.

In the 1970’s, Dr. Benjamin Feingold, a pediatric allergist from California, had success treating the symptoms of hyperactivity in some children by prescribing an elimination diet. The doctor even came up with his own diet, The Feingold Diet or Program. The Feingold Program eliminates these additives from your diet:

  • Artificial (synthetic) coloring
  • Artificial (synthetic) flavoring
  • Aspartame (NutraSweet, an artificial sweetener)
  • Artificial (synthetic) preservatives BHA, BHT, TBHQ (these preservatives are found in most foods on the market)

So all-in-all, I would say strive to use foods that are low or contain no artificial color or dyes. It is already hard enough just restricting milk or soy from your child’s diet to have to worry about dyes as well! If you are concerned about the possibility that your child could have ADHD, speak to a Registered Dietitian about possibly starting an elimination diet. Remember, you must ensure your little one is still getting the nutrition he or she needs with these special diets. Another option you have is to use an allergen-free supplement, for example Neocate Junior Unflavored with Prebiotics (which is also free of food colorings and flavors) to help ensure that their individual nutrition needs are being met.

Have you looked into an elimination diet before? Do you know anyone who started one and has had success? We would like to hear about it. Please tell us your story in the comment section below.


What does Hypoallergenic Mean?

Posted 3.30.17 | Nutrition Specialist

Most consumers today believe that a product labeled as hypoallergenic will not cause an allergic reaction, but is this really true?

Let’s start with the basics. The technical definition of “hypoallergenic” is that a product is less likely to cause an allergic reaction, or will cause fewer allergic reactions. There are few federal standards that regulate the use of this term for consumer goods. For many products, like cosmetics, the term “hypoallergenic” may be used without ANY evidence or support. Some companies will use certain tests for a product to support that it’s hypoallergenic.

For infant formulas, however, you can rest assured that the term “hypoallergenic” can ONLY be used when certain criteria are met.

What is a Hypoallergenic Infant Formula?

When it comes to infant formulas, based on calls our nutrition specialists receive on a regular basis, many people think the term hypoallergenic means the product is totally void of any and all things that could trigger an allergic reaction. The reality is a bit more complex.

For an infant formula to claim hypoallergenicity it needs to go through study in a clinical trial. The requirements have been based on recommendations by the According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). According to the AAP, a hypoallergenic infant formula must:

  • Be studied in a clinical trial
  • Be studied in patients with documented cow milk allergy
  • Have been shown to be tolerated by at least 90% of the patients

“Tolerated” means that the formula did not cause an allergic reaction, or that those with cow milk allergy did not have defined symptoms, such as hives, anaphylaxis, or other symptoms of a food allergy.  Only infant formulas made with free amino acids – like Neocate – or extensively hydrolyzed protein, also called peptides, have met the necessary criteria in these studies and can be classified as hypoallergenic. 

Other infant formulas are NOT hypoallergenic. These include formulas made with whole dairy protein, formulas made with soy protein, and formulas made with partially hydrolyzed protein. (Hydrolyzed protein comes from dairy protein, but partially hydrolyzed protein is not broken down as much as extensively hydrolyzed protein.)

Difference Between a Hydrolyzed Formula and Amino Acid-Based Formula

Hydrolyzed formulas are made using protein from dairy, but the milk proteins in those formulas have been broken down into smaller fragments. The body’s immune system may not detect the smaller protein fragments as being an allergen. In some patients with a cow milk allergy, the body still reacts to the protein fragments in extensively hydrolyzed formula, resulting in allergic reactions.

Amino acid-based formulas, which used to be called elemental formulas, use only amino acids as the source of protein. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein, and are too small for the body to recognize as being foreign. They are the least allergenic form of protein.

To help you visualize the difference between these two types of formulas, picture a pearl necklace. In this example our necklace represents the strand of amino acids that make a protein.  If you take the necklace and break it into smaller length strands where several pearls are connected, this would look like the peptides used in partially-hydrolyzed formulas. Even shorter strands of a few pearls will look like the smaller peptides used in an extensively hydrolyzed formula.

If you start with individual pearls, then you have a visual example of an amino acid-based formula. In an amino acid-based formula like Neocate, none of the amino acids are attached to each other. In Neocate, the amino acids are NOT derived from dairy protein. The amino acids in Neocate are synthetic, meaning they’re not derived from meat. Most of them are made from plant sugars, and some are completely synthetic.

Here’s another way to look at infant formulas and their potential for triggering an allergic reaction:

Can a Child React to a Hypoallergenic Infant Formula?

It is possible for a child with food allergies react to formulas made with hydrolyzed protein, or peptides. Amino acid-based formulas, on the other hand, are the least allergenic type of formula, meaning they’re least likely to cause a food allergy reaction.

While two types of infant formulas can claim to be hypoallergenic, based on the information above you can see that the term alone doesn’t guarantee that there will NOT be an allergic reaction. It’s important to look at your child’s individual case and discuss with your healthcare professional the type of hypoallergenic formula – amino acid-based or extensively hydrolyzed - that would best fit your needs.

Here are some additional resources that can be helpful if you are currently evaluating various formula types

The Latest on BPA

Posted 4.6.10 | Sarah O'Brien

We’ve posted before about concerns over the effects of bisphenol-A or BPA, chemical used to make many plastics. In case you haven’t heard, some recent research suggests that BPA can leach into liquids packaged in bottles and cans made of polycarbonate plastics and could be unsafe for infants and young children.

The FDA is conducting more research on the safety of BPA, but in the meantime we wanted to share some recent articles we’ve read that help shed some light on what it is, why the government is concerned and why you may want to limit your family’s exposure to it. (If your child is taking Neocate, no need to worry – we have already taken the extra step to protect your little ones and all of our powdered formulas now come in cans with a BPA-Free lining.)

The FDA recently revised its guidelines for BPA, recommending that parents take precautions to minimize infants’ exposure while they carry out more tests. This article has some good tips on how to limit exposure at home.

The FDA isn’t the only government agency concerned about BPA – the EPA recently announced that they will also be investigating its possible environmental and health impacts.

As scientists get better at detecting the levels of chemicals like BPA in our bodies, they are discovering the potentially serious impact of even a small quantity on our health. Be sure to check out the full list of “household toxins” that accompanies the article.

States like California and Minnesota have banned BPA from food and drink containers, especially ones for children. See if your state has any legislation in the works.

We hope you find these articles helpful. We will be sure to keep you posted on the latest happenings and research findings on BPA. More information about BPA, including frequently asked questions and resources, is available on our website as well. Have you taken any steps to avoid BPA? If you have any tips, be sure to share in the comments!

- Sarah

Reading Food Labels: Taking a Closer Looking into Ingredients

Posted 3.9.10 | Sarah O'Brien

Back in our vitamin series we often referenced the ingredient list on formula & food labels and helped identify some of those long words as vitamins. This sparked us to think about ingredients in general and the importance of understanding ingredients when dealing with food allergies.

There is so much more to ingredients then what’s listed on the label. So, of course, we decided to blog about it! Understanding fats, carbohydrates and proteins will be the topic of our next series. Within the next few months we hope to cover some common inquiries such as types of fat, healthy vs. unhealthy fats, types of carbohydrate including corn, identify sugars, and hidden allergens such as dairy, and explain the building blocks of protein.

A few things to keep in mind while reading those labels and looking at ingredient lists:

  • The FDA requires all manufacturers to list all ingredients in the food on the label.
  • Based on the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004, manufacturers are required to list the top eight foods which account for the most food allergies in commonly used terms. This does not include allergens accidentally introduced during manufacturing or packaging through cross-contamination.
  • Ingredients are listed in order of predominance. The ingredient used in the greatest amount is listed first, followed by those in smaller amounts listed next, in descending order.
  • There are several different types of ingredients such as:
    • Preservatives (ascorbic acid, citric acid) to prevent food from spoiling
    • Emulsifiers (soy lecithin, mono-and diglycderides) which allow smooth mixing and prevent separation
    • Sweeteners (saccharin, aspartame, acesulfame potassium) to add sweetness with or without the extra calories
    • Color Additives (citrus red no. 2, beta-carotene) which offsets color loss due to exposure to light, air, temperature extremes or moisture

Don’t forget to check back with us next week as we kick-off our ingredient series with the topic of fats. Do you have any questions on what’s listed in the ingredients on food labels?

- Sarah

Deciphering Allergy Advisory Labels

Posted 10.9.09 | Christine Graham-Garo

Grocery shopping can be a daunting task for parent of kids with food allergies, and inconsistent labeling terms doesn’t make it any easier. There are currently more than 30 different labeling types! While the FDA mandates that foods containing the top 8 allergens are labeled, there is no law mandating “accidental-allergy warnings” in case a food in cross contaminated during production. And it’s not always clear exactly what the terms/statements on labels really means for your child.

Here are some of the most common terms on food labels, and what each of them means. If there are any more you’re curious about, let us know.

Dairy Free: Food that is labeled as “Dairy Free” may still contain casein, whey or other milk products. It is important to check the ingredient lists of these products for hidden dairy. has a great list of hidden dairy in a variety of products.

Gluten-Free: According to CNN, “The FDA has recently issued standards for foods to be labeled "gluten free." Currently, the "gluten free" label is voluntary — that is, it's up to the manufacturer whether to include it. Many foods are naturally gluten-free and may or may not be labeled as such.” Products with this designation shouldn’t contain gluten, which is a main component of wheat, however some studies have shown low levels. A great resource is, which has a list of safe foods.

Manufactured on the Same Line As/Made in Same Factory As: This means that while the food may not contain the allergen directly, it was manufactured on machinery used to make other products containing potential allergens like peanuts.

May Contain: Even though there are no allergens in the product, they could be cross-contaminated (for example if they share a production facility that manufactures a product containing allergens). Proceed with caution!

Do you have any other tips for navigating the aisles of your grocery store?


Faster Food-Safety Alerts

Posted 9.15.09 | Christine Graham-Garo

We have written about the dangers of food contamination for allergic children before, and last week the FDA implemented a new system to help identify potential problems much faster.

Companies will now be required to use an electronic food registry to alert the FDA within 24 hours of finding good contamination that could cause people to become severely ill or die. This is a huge improvement over the past, when the FDA was only notified of contamination when people became ill. If a company fails to report potential food-borne outbreaks within 24 hours they will face an injunction, fines or other punishment.

Luckily for parents, the makers of infant formula are already required to report contamination problems to the FDA through a separate electronic system. However, it is nice to know that now ALL of our food will be subject to more intense scrutiny.


Safer Food is Just Around the Corner

Posted 8.19.09 | Mallory West

Great news! The House of Representatives recently approved a food-safety bill that aims to improve safety standards on food production in the U.S.

Although the bill wasn’t aimed at allergies specifically, it tackles some big problems that have arisen in recent months due to contamination and lax safety procedures. The author of the bill, Representative John D. Dingell, says it “will fundamentally change the way in which we ensure the safety of our food supply.”

The most important part of this bill? It gives the FDA a lot more power to recall food if the manufacturers haven’t followed safety procedures. This should help parents of food allergic children, who have to worry about food contamination even more than the rest of the general public. The bill also aims to prevent contamination problems before food is distributed, which means people won’t have to get sick to prompt a recall and inspection.

Now more than ever it is important to bring policy matters related to food allergies to the attention of lawmakers. The Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Management Act (FAAMA) has been reintroduced to Congress. To find out how you can ask your representatives and senators to help, please visit the Food Allergy Awareness Network Web site.

What other food allergy-related issues do you hope Congress addresses soon?


Food Allergies Still Top Priority for FDA

Posted 4.28.09 | Christine Graham-Garo

Good news — According to the latest issue of FDA Week, precautionary allergen statements on food packages are still a top priority of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN) met with the FDA in March to discuss concerns that the FDA’s food safety priorities might have changed because of the peanut contamination issues. However, the FDA assured FAAN that food allergy labeling is still of the upmost importance to the agency.

Back in September, my fellow blogger wrote an entry on the allergy labeling public hearings that occurred. Anne Munoz-Furlong, FAAN Founder, said the FDA is currently reviewing the public comments they received before, during and after that meeting.

Any food allergy label updates on your end?

- Christine

“Food Safety, One Pistachio at a Time”

Posted 4.16.09 | Nutrition Specialist

The recent peanut butter and pistachio scares have got me thinking more about food safety lately. Of course, I’m always very cautious of food labels and safety because of the families I work with who are dealing with food allergies on a regular basis. However, it’s easy to forget that food safety is something that affects everyone, and we all need to be careful about checking labels, expiration dates and watching for product recalls.

I came across an interesting editorial the other day in the New York Times. The article, “Food Safety, One Pistachio at a Time,” discusses what the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has done recently with food warnings - and what they still need to work on. As soon as the pistachio contamination was found, the FDA advised consumers to store or throw out all pistachios while they determine what items are truly contaminated. They’re goal they said was to try and stop people from getting sick in the first place, as opposed to waiting until someone is sick or dead before taking action.

While this is good news, the writer points out that for consumers to truly be safe, at a minimum Congress needs to increase the FDA’s staff and recall authority and in the long term, the federal government should establish one agency to coordinate and enforce food regulations.

To read the entire editorial, just click here.

For a food allergy safety update, check out the entry I recently wrote on this topic.

How do you feel about the recent food scandals and regulation issues?

- Nita

Food Allergy Safety Update

Posted 3.18.09 | Nutrition Specialist

I’ve been following the food allergy labeling debate for awhile now. Back in September, we blogged about a hearing held by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to develop a long-term strategy to clear up accidental-allergy warnings that are misleading consumers. According to a study released this weekend at the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology’s annual meeting, this is still a safety concern for all food allergy parents.

The study found that a small number of food products with the “may contain” label actually do contain allergens. 5.3 percent of randomly selected grocery store food items with this label contained detectable levels of egg, milk or peanut and 2 percent of food products with no such warning also contained allergens. In all, 399 products were tested.

To read the entire US News & World Report article on the study, click here.

The Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004 required new labels for packaged foods containing major allergens, but the “may contain” labels were not covered in this Act.

As we’ve said before, be very vigilant when purchasing food products for your little ones that you have not made yourself. Unfortunately, potential allergens may still be in a food product, even if it’s not on the label.

On a positive note, President Obama has vowed to help with food safety in his recent weekly address. He announced his appointments to the FDA and covered the recent salmonella scare in the Georgia peanut plan. Click here to check out a Wall Street Journal article on the topic.

Any questions or comments? I’d love to hear them.

- Nita

Breaking News: Cadbury Chocolate Contains Milk!

Posted 1.29.09 | Christine Graham-Garo

I know, I know. This is not a big surprise, especially since the brand name contains the word ‘milk,’ and there is an image of milk on the wrapper. However, to comply with labeling laws, Cadbury announced that it is adding warnings to its Dairy Milk Chocolate wrappers and to its Dairy Milk Whole Nut bars.

If you’re not familiar with the story, check out this clip from

The company is adding a warning “to inform milk-allergic potential customers” that its products contain milk.

While this might be obvious, we all know food labels can be tricky and I personally think this is a step in the right direction for food allergy labeling. And with the FDA still in the process of developing a long-term labeling strategy, it’s nice to see companies already responding to their food-allergic children and their parents. Click here to read an entry I wrote a few months ago on this topic.

As an allergy parent, how do you feel about Cadbury’s labels? I’d love to know!

- Christine

Follow-Up: FDA Food Label Hearing…Your Voice Can Still Be Heard

Posted 9.30.08 | Christine Graham-Garo

On Tuesday, September 16, 2008, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) held a hearing in College Park, Maryland to develop a long-term strategy to clear up accidental-allergy warnings that are misleading consumers. In case you missed it, here is my entry on this topic from a few weeks ago.

If you couldn’t make the meeting, you can still have your food allergy opinion known! The public can submit written comments to the FDA regarding this hearing until January 14, 2009.

Comments can be submitted to: Division of Dockets Management (HFA-305)Food and Drug Administration5630 Fishers Lane, rm. 1061Rockville, MD 20852. Or online at:

I encourage all of you to submit a comment!

The FDA, according to their Web site, “is developing a long-term strategy to assist manufacturers in using allergen advisory labeling that is truthful and not misleading, conveys a clear and uniform message, and adequately informs food-allergic consumers and their caregivers.”

For more information on what was covered at the hearing, click here.

- Christine

FDA Issues Another Warning…

Posted 9.23.08 | Nutrition Specialist

I know it might seem like we write about formula fraud quite often, but we just want to make sure your little ones are safe! Here’s another warning from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) about avoiding infant formulas imported from China.

To see the official FDA warning, click here.

The warning does not affect any of the six companies regulated by the FDA that have been approved to distribute formula in the U.S. (Abbott Nutrition, Mead Johnson Nutritionals, Nestle USA, PBM Nutritionals, Solus Products and Nutricia) so don’t be too alarmed! I would suggest, however, avoiding any formula not made by these six FDA approved manufacturers.

To make sure you are getting the safe and appropriate formula for your little one, check out these reminders:

Know where your formula comes from;
- Be aware of online formula scams;
- Be wary of borrowing or buying formula from a friend; and
- Check the expiration dates.

It might seem OK to borrow some formula from a friend or buy it from a Web site like eBay; however, you can never know if it was stored properly or exactly where it came from. It’s always better to err on the side of caution and purchase a formula from the proper Web site, store or pharmacy.

If you have any questions, shoot them on over!

- Nita

FDA Food Label Hearing – Today!

Posted 9.16.08 | Christine Graham-Garo

How many times have you been to a grocery store or a restaurant, and read a vague warning note that says, “This product may contain peanuts?” As an allergy parent, I’m sure you’ve noticed these not so direct labels quite a bit.

Recently, there has been a lot of coverage over the confusion that allergy labeling is causing. And I know this is frustrating! All you want to know is, can my child eat this, yes or no? Lucky for you, and for all allergy parents out there, the FDA is holding a hearing today, September 16, to discuss setting allergy labeling standards (right now, allergy warnings are voluntary).

This hearing could not have come at a better time. Parents are so befuddled that many of them are just ignoring food labels altogether. It seems that most allergy parents hold the opinion these days that the safest thing you can do for your allergy prone little one is to cook everything at home from scratch. However, this is not feasible or practical for many busy families.

Here are a few tips on avoiding the confusion:
- Do your research at home – find a list of products you KNOW are allergen free.

- Air on the side of caution – if a product says, “Made in a factory with milk,” and your child has a milk protein allergy, stay away from it. You are better off buying a product made in a 100% dairy free environment, like Neocate.

- Have one “homemade” food item on hand for an easy meal – that way you won’t pick up a product that “may” contain an allergen because you are in a hurry.

Today’s FDA hearing is the beginning of a long process to clear up accidental-allergy warnings that are misleading consumers. This will be the FDA’s first step in developing a “long-term strategy.”

The hearing, being held in College Park, Maryland, is open to the public. For more information on attending the hearing, click here.

And for more information on the current food allergy standards, click here.

How do you feel about food allergy labels? I’d love to know!

- Christine

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.