In honor of Food Allergy Awareness Week, food allergy author Linda Coss has released her list of the top 10 things that parents of children with life-threatening food allergies want:
#10: Delicious and Easy Recipes - For those who must eliminate multiple and/or common ingredients, cooking can be an enormous challenge.
#9: To Be Able to Easily Dine Out - We understand that it is not easy to prepare allergen-free food in the typical busy restaurant kitchen. But it would be nice if we could easily get correct answers regarding what's in the food.
#8: Nut-Free Flights - Airlines cannot control the food brought on board a flight by their passengers, but why must they serve little bags of peanuts? How about crackers, pretzels, raisins, licorice, tortilla chips, or just about any other popular snack food?
#7: Empowered EMTs - In many parts of the country emergency medical technicians do not carry - and are forbidden from administering - potentially life-saving shots of epinephrine. This is ridiculous.
#6: Appropriate ER Protocols - Because up to 40-50% of severe reactions are biphasic, those who go to the hospital for treatment should always be kept under observation for at least 5 hours. Unfortunately many emergency rooms discharge these patients as soon as they first stabilize.
#5: Understanding - We want the people in our lives to understand that we are not a bunch of paranoid hysterical oddballs who are making all of this up for the purpose of calling attention to ourselves and our children. Life-threatening food allergies are a very real condition. And yes, we really do have to take a lot of precautions to keep our kids safe.
#4: Knowledge - Currently the only treatment for life-threatening food allergies is complete avoidance of the offending allergens. Since food, and food residue, is everywhere, parents want to know exactly how to accomplish this seemingly impossible task. What steps do they need to take? What hidden dangers do they need to avoid?
#3: Clear Labels on Packaged Food Products - If there is a chance that a product may contain an allergen that is not included in the ingredient label, the package should say so. But if not, companies should not put "may contain" verbiage on the package.
#2: Safe School Environments - Our kids are not learning disabled and do not need "special education." But they do need a school environment that is not covered with allergenic food residue, and teachers who are prepared to recognize and treat an allergic reaction.
#1: A Cure - Most of all, we want a cure. A real cure - the type of cure that would result in our children being able to eat whatever they wanted to eat, without any risk of an adverse reaction.
Ms. Coss is the author of "How to Manage Your Child's Life-Threatening Food Allergies," as well as two popular food allergy cookbooks, "What's to Eat?" and "What Else is to Eat?" - both of which provide recipes for cooking without dairy, egg, peanut or tree nut ingredients. All three books are available at http://www.foodallergybooks.com/order.htm, at Amazon.com, and at various retailers nationwide.