jjandascog Posted 10 Aug 2005 , 3:07pm
post #1 of

Hi. I don't know how many of you decorate cakes as a hobby and how many of you do this as a business but I feel a need to clarify some things. I have read a few posts that tell me there are some serious misconceptions about food allergies out there. My 3 year old daughter has life-threatening allergies to peanuts, milk, and egg whites. So please forgive me if I seem a little tense but for the mother of a small child with food allergies, this a very scary subject.

First of all, lactose intolerance and milk allergy are 2 COMPLETELY different things. Milk allergies can KILL you. If my daughter were to ingest 1tsp! of milk, she would be covered head to toe with hives that spread until they all connect and she looks like one giant hive with her eyes swollen shut, would start projectile vomiting and would go into anaphylactic shock. We have carried an epi-pen since she was 9 months old. There is a list of about 40 ingredients that you have to look for when deciding if something is milk-free. So please don't think something is safe because it says Dairy-free or lactose-free. Butter flavoring and artificial flavoring are 2 of the ingredients on this list. So if you are going to bake a cake for a person with a food allergy, please let them or their mother (if it is a child) read the ingredients list for you before you use anything in their cake. Feeding your child something that wasn't made by you can be the scariest thing in the world for the parents of a child with such allergies.

Also, with the peanut allergy... Many people think if it doesn't have peanuts or peanut butter in it, then it's OK. NOT TRUE!!! Some people have the allergy so bad they will suffer just from breathing in the peanut dust. Luckily my daughter actually has to ingest it to react so we don't have to worry about her just being around peanuts as long as she doesn't touch them or put them in her mouth. What a LOT of people don't realize is that when you use utensils in peanut butter or cookies sheets to make peanut butter cookies, etc. you MUST scrub the equipment with soap and water in the sink and then sterilize in the dishwasher. This is the only way to ensure that you have gotten all of the peanut particles removed. Also, check the labels!! Even if something does not contain peanuts or peanut butter, it may have been processed in the same plant and even on the same equipment and therefore may be contaminated! My daughter can't eat any type of nut because it could have been processed on the same equipment as peanuts. Plain M&M's are unacceptable for a child with peanut allergies because they are processed at the same plant as the Peanut M&M's. By law, the label has to state whether or not it was processed near peanuts. If so, it will be stated on the package usually directly underneath the ingredients list. One example I can think of that you wouldn't think to associate with peanuts...the cookies that come in a McD's Happy Meal. The label states that they may contain traces of peanuts. There are so many things that you wouldn't think of, that I never thought of until I had to start reading EVERY label.

Sorry if I sound intense but I don't want another mother to have to go through what I did with my daughter because of common misconceptions. Rushing my child to the ER when she swelled up and turned blue because she couldn't breathe was the worst horror of my life. We won't buy anything from a bakery because of all of these issues (which is why I started decorating cakes) and our daughter is enrolled in a preschool that has a very strict peanut policy so we don't have to be scared for her life.

So if you agree to make an "allergy cake" for someone, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE take special care because you are talking about someone's life. If you have a question about an ingredient in a cake mix, ask the parent. Don't depend on anyone else's advice unless they ABSOLUTELY KNOW WHAT THEY ARE TALKING ABOUT.

If anyone would like my recipe for a milk free, egg-free cake just let me know. I have a recipe that uses soy margarine for the icing and now that my daughter is starting to outgrow some of her milk allergies, I have a recipe that uses butter-flavored Crisco. Only the person with the allergy can tell you if butter flavoring is safe for them.

Please forgive my ranting, but this is a very touchy (and scary) subject for me.

Ashley

25 replies
KayDay Posted 10 Aug 2005 , 3:11pm
post #2 of

I don't consider it ranting at all! You are passing on some info thats important and very close to your heart! Thanks and I for one made note of it and will be super careful!

alengirl Posted 10 Aug 2005 , 3:15pm
post #3 of

Allergies are VERY SERIOUS! Thank you Ashley for teaching me and I'm sure many others a few things. Everything you noted is very important, so I thank you very much! I have Shellfish Allergies. . . so I can relate.

I would love to have your recipes, you never know when a request like yours will be made. I'll PM you my email address thumbs_up.gif

llj68 Posted 10 Aug 2005 , 3:18pm
post #4 of

I don't consider it ranting, either. I would hope, however, that if someone asked me to do a cake for them, they would tell me if they or someone who would be eating the cake, had allergies to certain things.

Honestly, after reading your post--I don't know that I will do a cake for someone with life-threatening allergies. I would never get over it if something that came out of my kitchen caused someone to be rushed to the ER. Very scary, indeed!!

I know that at my dd's school, they can't even bring peanuts or peanut butter ANYTHING into the school.

(((HUGS)))) to you and your dd for having to live through those scary events. Hopefully she was start to outgrow them even more as she gets older.

Lisa

thecakemaker Posted 10 Aug 2005 , 3:24pm
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You're not ranting at all. I make cakes for a friend who's neice has the deadly peanut allergy. She gets all of her cakes from me because she knows she can trust me. It's scarey as a baker even when reading all of the ingredients and being super careful to turn a cake over knowing someone has an allergy and worrying about missing something on a label. This friend is so comfortable with me making her cakes that she forgot to tell me that her neice was going to be at a party I was making a cake for. I asked her if she was going to be at the party and got an OMG! I forgot all about it from her. It's not an issue to take lightly! We all can use an occasional reminder!

Debbie

SquirrellyCakes Posted 10 Aug 2005 , 3:31pm
post #6 of

You are quite right and it is a timely post!
Some folks are so severely allergic that even scrubbing and washing and rinsing and putting the utensils through the dishwasher will still leave enough traces for them to get violently ill. For folks with nut or shellfish allergies, this can be true.
Some folks with Celiacs Disease cannot have products using gluten in their kitchens. Separate cooking utensils, even cake pans and such, must be used and they can never have been used to make anything with any gluten in it. So it is not enough to use clean pans and utensils and bake gluten free, many folks must keep a gluten free home. This is essential for a lot of infants and small children with the disease. At one time just not ingesting products containing gluten was enough to keep safe. Not anymore, it has been discovered that trace amounts will remain in a kitchen, so kitchens must me absolutely gluten free.
Soap and water doesn't get rid of everything.
If I bake for a person with a peanut allergy, I get rid of anything containing peanuts that is in my home. I wash and scrub and rinse everything down beforehand. And still I warn that person that there have been peanuts in the home, just to be safe.
Your message is a good warning to everyone. Thank you for taking the time to share it with us.
Hugs Squirrelly

bubblezmom Posted 10 Aug 2005 , 3:32pm
post #7 of

I know parents of children with peanut allergies and they do not allow their children to eat food prepared by others moms. It's just not worth endangering the child's life so they can eat a cupcake with the rest of the kids.

I would suggest that anyone decorating cakes for profit should politely decline any requests to make an allergen-free cake. Think of the liability! I knew someone who would react to trace amounts of peanut. Someone in is family made sugar cookies, but the spatula had also been used for the pb cookies. Just the few crumbs from the spatula were enough to cause a nasty reaction.

KayDay Posted 10 Aug 2005 , 3:37pm
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WOW! My heart goes out to those kids and parents dealing with this! My daughters good friend has a lot of food allergies however I dont think they are life threatening. He is a little older (12) and knows what he can and cannot eat he reads the labels himself. I try to remind him to do so when he is @ my house. I tease my daughter about him and tell her her BF is gonna have to becone a Dr. to control his allergies and that I wanted a Dr. for a son-in-law someday anyhow! Of course she "AW MOM'S" me

ntertayneme Posted 10 Aug 2005 , 3:45pm
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jjandascog, thank you so much for sharing this with us .. we really do appreciate all the information you gave us and of course, we do not in any way think your ranting!! This is extremely important and things we should know .. the thought of what you've gone through with your child and their allegeries just must of been so difficult for you and still is... I do hope she someday outgrows these allegeries .. I know how very hard this must be for you to screen every single thing your child eats and to live in fear of her possibly eating something that may trigger her allergies .. my heart goes out to you and thank you so much for sharing this .. it's very helpful and useful information that we all need to know!!

2cakes Posted 10 Aug 2005 , 3:46pm

I do not feel like you are ranting, you definitely have a concern and I am glad that you are sharing this information. It keeps me well informed of the potential of ingredients to add when making cakes or cookies. I always asked the customers or anyone if they have children or anyone that might be allergic to ingredients I add to the baked goods and I also helps when customers or anyone that might be a subject of allergies to certain foods to let the baker know so that the recipes can either be altered or something else can be baked to accomondate the individual/s so that everyone can enjoy the editable goods. I am like you, I check and read labels cause there are certain ingredients that I can not have in my foods and when I go out to eat, I don't mind asking the waitress what ingredients are in a particular foods or desserts, that is just me. I brake out in hives also, but not from foods, but Douglas Fern Trees, I can't even pass near one and when you don't know what they look like, cause they all look the same to me so I have to ask someone before I even pass one so that I can change directions where to walk. Breathing the air is even worse when these types of trees are every where. I can't even go into the forrest anymore, which is not a problem, cause I have already seen one too many. It is not worth the risk. But I really enjoyed reading your post and my prayers are with you, your daughter and family.

Wandootie Posted 10 Aug 2005 , 3:49pm

You are not ranting at all. Thank you for the information!


Wandootie

Sugar Posted 10 Aug 2005 , 3:53pm

I don't understand why if people are this allergic to something, they don't speak up???

If I make a dish and bring it for a party, I expect people to use a little common sense if they have severe allergies to something. I think it's more their responsibility than mine. I mean, you can't protect everyone from everything, or you'd end up serving water! (Which I believe some people are allergic to as well. icon_razz.gif )

jjandascog Posted 10 Aug 2005 , 4:00pm

I just want to thank you all for being so understanding. I have a neighbor who thinks it is crazy to expect public schools to have a peanut policy and she's jumped down my throat a couple of times about how I shouldn't expect Caitlin to get special treatment. I told her where she could go but it is very bothersome when people think you are over-exaggerating something like that. I don't let Caitlin eat anything unless I know every single ingredient. You've heard of "Kiss the Cook"? Well, I "Quiz the Cook!" All of our neighborhood parties, even if I make a cake, I make cupcakes also so Caitlin has something to eat. I go to every single one of her class parties and I make the cupcakes for them. I volunteer to bring as much to her parties as I can so I know she can join in. She is only 3 but she is VERY good about not eating other things. I think I've scared her enough by being very serious and stern with her that she has paid attention. At 2 years, she started telling people on her own "I can't eat dat. I haf go to da mergy room." Now she is speaking a lot more clearly and she pretty much knows things that she can and can't eat and everyone who knows us knows that they don't give her food without asking mom first. They don't even try to ask my husband anymore because every time they did he would just point them over to me.
Again, thank you so much for being understanding about the seriousness of this subject. I appreciate it very much especially after the reception I've gotten from other people.

Sugar Posted 10 Aug 2005 , 4:06pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by jjandascog

I just want to thank you all for being so understanding. I have a neighbor who thinks it is crazy to expect public schools to have a peanut policy and she's jumped down my throat a couple of times about how I shouldn't expect Caitlin to get special treatment. I told her where she could go but it is very bothersome when people think you are over-exaggerating something like that. I don't let Caitlin eat anything unless I know every single ingredient. You've heard of "Kiss the Cook"? Well, I "Quiz the Cook!" All of our neighborhood parties, even if I make a cake, I make cupcakes also so Caitlin has something to eat. I go to every single one of her class parties and I make the cupcakes for them. I volunteer to bring as much to her parties as I can so I know she can join in. She is only 3 but she is VERY good about not eating other things. I think I've scared her enough by being very serious and stern with her that she has paid attention. At 2 years, she started telling people on her own "I can't eat dat. I haf go to da mergy room." Now she is speaking a lot more clearly and she pretty much knows things that she can and can't eat and everyone who knows us knows that they don't give her food without asking mom first. They don't even try to ask my husband anymore because every time they did he would just point them over to me.
Again, thank you so much for being understanding about the seriousness of this subject. I appreciate it very much especially after the reception I've gotten from other people.




I can relate the th frustration! I'm a vegetarian and it can be so frustrating. People will say, it's safe to eat, it's chicken. icon_mad.gif They don't get that chicken, fish, and anything besides steak is an animal too. And then there's the folks that just assume because you don't eat meat there's something wrong with you mentally. lol

jjandascog Posted 10 Aug 2005 , 4:18pm

I agree. I don't think it is anyone's responsibility but my own and I am very careful about my daughter and usually we bring food for her wherever we go. I just wanted to set the record straight on some things because I have seen a few posts where the information was WRONG, Wrong, wrong. Since we are using this website as a help-center and preparing food for other people, I thought it would be important for people to understand that they need to ask the allergic person the information and not expect to receive information from someone who doesn't know for sure. I just want everyone to understand how serious it is especially since in telling people my daughter is allergic to milk, I can't tell you how many times the response has been "Oh, that's too bad. Don't they have medicine for lactose intolerance?" This is much more serious than lactose intolerance and could cost a child their life. I expect adults with these allergies to be responsible enough to take care of themselves. I don't however think it is unreasonable to expect a public school to be peanut-free. These are small children that don't always understand the seriousness of it. I'm trying hard to make sure my daughter understands but you never know. And since even Kindergarteners eat in the cafeteria at my son's school with not much supervision (only 4 teachers have lunchroom duty at a time), obviously a child with a food allergy is not being watched carefully to make sure they don't share food. My neighbor thinks that my daughter should have to eat in the office with the principal or her counselor when she starts school because her son won't eat anything for lunch but peanut butter sandwiches. But yet her son gets special treatment at baseball practice because he has asthma...which my daughter also has, by the way. I just think some people need to learn some compassion, sympathy, and empathy. For people out there who have none, you should try to have more feeling for other people. For the people who do already have those qualities, I thought it might help you to have the facts. Luckily I'm not bad at cake decorating so my daughter gets fantastic-looking birthday cakes...but not all mothers are as talented as the people on this website and could use a little help from an understanding cake decorator so their child can have a normal birthday in spite of their food allergies.

SquirrellyCakes Posted 10 Aug 2005 , 4:46pm

Well you can bet if your neighbour had a child or relative or she, herself had such severe allergies, she would be the first one to try to have these things banned from public places!
My children were lucky, they didn't have these kinds of allergies and what they were allergic to was medicines and such. But regardless, when one child in my daughter's class had severe nut allergies and the parents tried to request that the school be nut-free, I was 100% on their side. A milk allergy is a different thing, milk doesn't get in the air or leave traces, unless someone spills it and then it is pretty obvious. So that is an allergy that you exercise caution with what you eat and such. Peanut allergies are a whole different ballgame. Opening a bag of peanuts on an airplane or in a classroom or cafeteria, can be life threatening if someone with a nut allergy is in the same location. So personally I cannot understand why we cannot be more considerate of the issue and support these bans.
Some allergic reactions can be avoided fairly easily, others cannot and whatever we can do to make the world a safer place for people with these allergies, is what we need to do.
I have known of cases where people were actually foolish enough to try to test whether the allergic person was making up the allergies or not. One friend's mother-in-law thought it was an attention seeking device and actually served her a cake with ground peanuts in it. Well, her throat closed up very quickly and she almost died before anyone knew what was wrong and could seek treatment. Can you imagine?
I had to make a cake recently for a person with a peanut allergy. So I cleared out any peanuts in the house, washed everything down. As I was icing the cake, hubby came into the kitchen behind me and opened up a big bags of peanuts. So I had to start all over again because I wouldn't take a chance with that allergy. Heehee, he got educated about nut allergies in a hurry!
Hugs Squirrelly Cakes

SquirrellyCakes Posted 10 Aug 2005 , 4:53pm

Meant to add, I notice that a lot of folks use almond extract in their cakes or icings. Either switch to artificial almond extract or make certain that you put a warning label on your cake boxes. Whenever I use this extract, I put a warning on the top and sides of the cake box and also warn the customer in person. Almond extract is not always discernible when used in a cake in small quantities. Many folks are almonds and would not realize it was an ingredient. Also, hazelnuts (filberts) is another serious nut allergy so if you are using Nutella, be sure to warn folks.
I find it a good practice to ask customers if any of the folks that will be attending the celebration, have allergies. I often list the ingredients on the box.
I have stopped using anything with peanuts in it, for children's parties, just to be safe.
Hugs Squirrelly Cakes

jjandascog Posted 10 Aug 2005 , 5:00pm

I mentioned the scrubbing everything and then washing in the dishwasher in an earlier post because I've had this argument with my mother-in-law numerous times. She is one of the people who doesn't scrub things before she puts them in the dishwasher and will dump a whole cup of coffee, once even a bowl of salsa, in the dishwasher. I thought that was disgusting even before my daughter's allergy. So she thinks I'm using this as an excuse to get her to stop putting things in my dishwasher like that. You'd think she would just be considerate of my house and my things and do what I ask her to do in my home. I've even said, I'll do the dishes, just put everything in the sink but she sneaks around and tries to get it past me be by running the dishwasher before I can check. I've found casserole dishes in my cabinet with baked-on cheese still stuck to it that she washed and put away while she was babysitting for us. Last time we were at her house, I told her Caitlin could not have bread she bought because it was made in a bakery and then I found her cutting Caitlin an apple on the same cutting board and with the same knife she used for the bread. The next morning, my husband got a knife out of the drawer and told her there was food on it and she waved him off and said it was probably just peanut butter. I had already told her about at least scrubbing her peanut butter knife before putting it in the dishwasher or Caitlin would not be able to eat at her house. Anyway, after the apple incident, Caitlin had a SEVERE asthma attack that I think was really a peanut reaction. We had to give her 3 breathing treatments before she stopped wheezing. And she wonders why we won't let her keep our kids for a week in the summer. We're afraid we'll never see Caitlin alive again! Needless to say, when we all go to visit we don't let Caitlin eat anything at her house or use her dishes anymore. I bring her food and make her eat on a paper towel with her fingers. Luckily they live far away so we don't visit that often.

twindees Posted 10 Aug 2005 , 5:14pm

Thanks for the info

GinaJuarez Posted 10 Aug 2005 , 5:15pm

I had no clue how severe a nut allergy could be!!!! Thank you for the information. That just blows my mind, because I can remember in 5th and 6th grade (about 12 years ago now) that every half day they served peanut butter sandwiches for lunch!

Beebug123 Posted 10 Aug 2005 , 5:46pm

Thanks for posting all of that information. I know how hard it is when you have foods you have to avoid. I have gluten intolerance, not full Celiac's and I have gone through periods of my life eating only gluten free products and it is a chore to do.

A story about nut allergies: My uncle is allergic to peanuts. A few years ago he was at a work party and ate some cookies. He thought they were soo yummy until his throart started to close and he asked around and found out they were PB cookies! He had never been around them before and I guess he had no idea what they looked like. I think that not only is it his responsiblity to ask first, but I would never bring a peanut dish if I were taking food for a party!

mrsfish94 Posted 10 Aug 2005 , 5:47pm

Well, I think you might be referring to my posts...I hope you understand that...I too have a child with serious food allergies. Because of making my posts to long...I have cut out the middle info. My daughter is very allergic to peanuts...she can't even eat something that has been cooked previously with something containing peanuts. I mean the pan has been scrubed and ran through the dishwasher in sanitize mode!!! We never go out to eat...and I have a strict "no peanut" policy at my home. She has Celiac Disease...which is simular to an allergy only it is an auto-immune disease. Eating wheat and products containing wheat...makes her throw up and sends her to the hospital.

By the way...when making a Gluten free cake...you MUST use a pan that has not been used for a wheat containing cake!!!! Gluten gets into the pores of the the metal and NEVER comes out!!!

I totally understand...I don't think you are ranting!!! We all should know this information. And I applaud you for informing all of us!!!! thumbs_up.gif

I will say this...I didn't know about the butter flavor!!! icon_redface.gif I now know and will keep an eye on it.

Thank you agian!!!!

SquirrellyCakes Posted 10 Aug 2005 , 5:52pm

jjandascog
Geesh, I don't know what to say, but boy, her attitude makes it even worse, doesn't it?
I find that a lot of older folks who grew up when allergies were unheard of, have this same attitude. They think we are being over-protective or they imagine that it is all in the person's imagination. I find that a lot. But you would think she would take your word for it and exercise extreme caution where the health of her grandchild is concerned. I think a lot of people just don't get it until it happens to them.
I guess I am at a loss as to why anyone would deliberately not respect another person's wishes when they are aware of the situation.
I hope your child is one of the lucky ones that outgrows the severity of her reactions!
Hugs Squirrelly Cakes

jjandascog Posted 10 Aug 2005 , 6:02pm

I just felt that I needed to say something because a lot of people are under the impression that if it doesn't list milk in the ingredients, it's OK. But the list of ingredients for milk is really long and I've had to memorize it. I also know from personal experience that most people don't understand that you have to read the labels to make sure things weren't processed near peanuts. It wasn't only your post, MrsFish, that was just the 4th or 5th one I had seen that might be misleading to someone searching for info about a milk allergy. I know it's not common knowledge that butter flavor has to be watched for with a milk allergy. I just wanted to give everyone the information and my feeling that if you have a question about an ingredient for a special-order cake for someone with a food allergy, illness or disease the best person to be asking is the person who has the allergy, illness or disease. That's really the only way to be safe. Because while several people may have the same problem, the severity of it may not be the same. For instance, my daughter is slowly outgrowing her milk allergy and can now have butter flavoring but if she hadn't had such a severe allergy to it in the beginning, I might not have known about butter flavoring being a risk and could have harmed someone by giving information according to my child's allergies when their allergy might be more severe. You just never know. That's why I think if you do want to be helpful and make these types of cakes, you should always put all of your questions to the person that it most concerns. I know everyone on this website is helpful and friendly and you have all helped me a few times but I also am sure that you wouldn't want to give information that could harm someone. That kind of information needs to come directly from the person who will be affected if something goes wrong.

mrsfish94 Posted 10 Aug 2005 , 6:06pm

I agree with you there!!! thumbs_up.gif And again I thank you for bringing this to our attention!!! You may have saved someone a trip to the ER!


Thank You!!!!!

SheilaF Posted 10 Aug 2005 , 6:20pm

Wow. This has all been very informative. I knew about peanut allergies. I have been involved in scouts for some time, so I've had a lot of exposure to that, but never had to deal with dairly allergies per sey. My son and youngest daughter are lactose intolerant, but not allergic. I made a cake for my oldest daughters bird camp a few weeks ago, and the instructor running it told me how amazing it was and she was sad she didn't get to enjoy it b/c she has a severe egg allergy and just assumed it would have eggs in it (which it did). If I had know in advance of the egg allergy, I could have taken that into consideration (esp since they knew I was making a cake). I will have to pay more attention to what the ingredients are in the cakes.

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