Allergy Alert: Eco-Friendly Straws/Containers, Diapers, Wipes

compostable containers

Did you ever think you would see a “paper” plate labeled Gluten-Free but made of wheat and corn? Or a straw made out of wheat?  A plastic wrapper or container made out of casein (a protein in Milk)?  How about wheat in disposable diapers or soy and oats in hand wipes?  Well, now you need to think about the packaging and more! It is happening now with companies banning plastic straws, etc;  we all need to be vigilant.

There is a need for echo friendly, bio-degradable containers. However, this comes with a danger to those with Food Allergies and Celiac Disease.  I have talked about this over the years with customers in the cafe and was motivated to write about this very issue after a customer was in the restaurant and ripped into me for using too much plastic. I tried explaining that we can’t use those echo friendly products due to the allergens in them.

The customer is also a Vegan and accused us of supporting animal cruelty.  She enjoyed her meal, but could not get over the use of plastic. She wanted to bring in her own items, Tupperware, glass bottle, etc. I have no way of knowing if she just had peanut butter and then touched her containers, so I would not allow it. Then she rated us on Yelp (public shaming us for using plastic). She went on to play games by editing and deleting some of her original comments and also deleting her second response thus deleting my second response.

I tried explaining that the plastic is the safest thing for us due to allergies and we need to prevent cross contact when people are dining in house or carrying food out.  Further explanation included the fact that we are in a Gold Leed Certified Building, recycle about 95% of what we use and have 3 electric car charging stations on the side of the building.  She just could not understand that the customer’s safety (and their life) depend on me sticking to my mission; to welcome those in need safely back to the table!

This spurred me to write a post on Facebook about the ingredients in compostable containers and boy did you all weigh in with your comments! So, here we go.

Edible Milk Based Packaging: “sustainable, biodegradable, edible and “safe”!   Safe for who?  Looking at it, you would think it was plastic…check it out here 

Wheat Straw Plates, Bowls, Paper Bags, Utensils: “looking for dinner ware that screams green?” There are so many brands and some say that the wheat protein is processed out, but it is scary for someone with a wheat allergy! Gluten Free Watchdog tested World Centrics brand and they appeared to be safe for Celiacs, not sure if I would take the chance with a wheat allergy.  What happens when the product gets wet? They look kind of like a “chinet” plate, but not white….check it out here

Straws: “sturdy and compostable”  There are many different brands, made from wheat, hay, corn, etc. Heat safe to 140 degrees, my concern is what happens to the allergen when the straw is breaking down under heat or long exposure to a liquid.  A Celiac customer said her local coffee place was using the wheat ones, which she did not know and was sick for a long time until she figured it out. click here  then click on “Benefits” to see the ingredients.

Diapers: “eco friendly disposable diapers, made of wheat and corn”. There are 5 brands in this link….check them all out here

Wipes: read the ingredients, I have seen them with wheat, soy, oats and more gang!

I am all for “green” products, but we need to make sure that they are safe for us. Right now, the FDA does not require manufacturers to list the top allergens on packaging products, so you have to do your research.  Also, they are being made by so many different companies and they all look different. You need to be aware and ask!

eco straws

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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FDA Not Enforcing GF Labeling Rule?

Recently, Tricia Thompson MS, RD and founder of GF Watchdog has asked the Gluten Free Community for their help.  She is saying that it appears that the FDA is not enforcing the GF Labeling Rule put in place in 2013.  She also has a great link to some information about self testing Gluten devices (at bottom).  Click Here to Read the Ruling

I have been saying this for years. “The FDA does not actively enforce the GF Labeling Rule!” Every time I would say it (last year at the GF Expo; I was given shocked and appalled looks; like I was making it up!) So,  I am glad to hear someone else say that the FDA does not seem to be enforcing the GF Labeling Rule.  There certainly is no accountability for restaurants because the local health department does nothing about it.  If you read it, the actual Rule/Law, said that we (GF manufacturers) would be self regulating; so this is not big surprise to me. Canada will not allow Cheerios to label their GF Cheerios as “GF” anymore, but the United States says, no problem Cheerios, keep making folks sick!  Expecting the FDA to do something is kind of funny…they made it a rule, not a law, because they don’t have the staff to enforce it.

So, I am not really surprised by any of this.  Below is what Tricia is asking of us.  I think this is well worth your time if you or someone you love has Celiac Disease, Gluten Sensitivity or a Wheat Allergy!

Dear Gluten Free Watchdog community,
First a request. We are continuing to remind FDA of our petition and ask for an update. The most recent “reminder” was sent to the Agency on July 6th. While we wait to hear from them, I have a favor. There is a newly established Twitter handle (@FDASpox) for Jennifer Rodriguez, Acting Associate Commissioner for External Affairs, U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Today I sent her the following tweet: “Jennifer @FDASpox can you please comment on why the FDA does not appear to be enforcing the gluten-free labeling rule? The agency is aware of numerous mis-branding violations but does not act to have products removed from store shelves. Please click here to see what Tricia has observed  
If you could please tweet your own version of the above or simply re-tweet my tweet that would be great. Thank you!
Also, if you haven’t had a chance to listen to the webinar by Adrian Rogers from Romer Labs on Gluten analysis and the challenges of consumer testing devices, please make the time. You won’t be disappointed. As someone in our community posted to GFWD’s Facebook, “I think everyone in the GF community needs to watch this. Again, Adrian drives home the point that testing foods are not as easy as it appears. It’s a very complicated process with lots of variables.”
The link will only work for the next couple of weeks. Both the audio and slides are available. Click Here 
If you have any questions for Adrian, please post them by Clicking Here
Kind regards,
Tricia Thompson, MS, RD
Founder, Gluten Free Watchdog, LLC
Please check the above information out folks, Tricia is fighting for all of us!
We-Need-Your-Help

 

A Tribute to Super Hero Moms!

 

Mom-Superhero 2

Mother’s Day is here again and every year it gets me thinking about the mothers who are in my life.  The more I thought about it, the more I realized how different the mothers are that come into our cafe, deli & bakery. They are different by necessity. Each year on Mother’s Day we all acknowledge the mothers in our lives but a mother to a child with food allergies, celiac disease or autism is quite different because of the additional burden when it comes to caring for her child. A very big part of this care is safely feeding that child.

If you think about it, most families can go out to eat and celebrate mother’s day and they can go out to eat anytime and anywhere.  If invited to a BBQ; they can go  and relax and eat with friends and family, they can order take out for a quick meal at home, they can go to school or on vacation with no worries when it comes to eating. That is something that the parents who come here with their children are not able to do.

If you know (or are) a mom to a child with Food Allergies, Celiac Disease or Autism, then you know what I am talking about.  If you are not, I would like you to imagine your life and what it would be like if you had to inspect every morsel of food that your child or children ingest because of the fear of behavioral changes, severe sickness or the possible death of your child.

Imagine Yourself in the following situations:

-Your child with autism is not invited to birthday parties. What do you need to do every day to reassure this child that they are truly loved and special?

-Your child is invited to a birthday party and you have to bring every morsel of food with you to make sure that they are safe. You can’t just drop them off and then go out for coffee; you have to watch over them like a hawk to keep them safe from all of the unsafe food around them. What would that be like for you?

-Your family is invited to Christmas or a holiday meal and you still have to make your own safe meal to bring for your child. You never get a break, what would that be like for you?

-Imagine going on vacation and the additional weeks of prior planning required in order to  find stores where you may be able to find safe food and trying to find restaurants that could safely feed your child.  Imagine coming up empty handed and knowing that when you go on that vacation, you will need to drive rather than fly so you can bring all of your coolers full of safe food with you.

-Imagine not being able to eat out on vacation, you have to make every single meal at home. So, basic hotels are out of the question, you must rent a full house with a full kitchen. You never get a true vacation.

-Imagine planning that trip to the beach, renting that ocean front condo and you or your child can never step foot outside or onto that beach because they are selling dry roasted peanuts on the boardwalk right in front of your condo and the sand is littered with peanut shells.  All your child wanted was to go to the beach and you made that happen but your child could only look at that beach through the window!

-Imagine going to a restaurant that says that they can accommodate your child’s allergies and watching them get gravely ill after eating their first bite.  For many this includes administering epinephrine and an ambulance ride to the hospital and a several day stay in that hospital. You then feel guilty for trusting that restaurant or waiter or chef with your child’s life.

-Imagine reading and inspecting every food label, calling food manufacturing companies and being assured the food is safe.  You feed the food to your child and end up calling 911 because it was not safe after all.  How do you forgive yourself when you know it is not your fault, but you are there to protect your child…how do you process this and live with it?

-Imagine sending your child to school and panicking every hour of the day wondering if your child is safe, even when they are grown and in college!

-Imagine the hours spent educating family, teachers, nurses and other students at school about the seriousness of food allergies, celiac disease and autism.Or volunteering to mentor parents of those who are newly diagnosed.  Exhausting!  Then you still have to be nice to the doubters or those who don’t care how serious your child’s allergy is. Frustrating!

-Imagine telling  your family about your child’s shellfish allergy and a family member dangles a shrimp in front of the child’s face on Christmas Day.  Do you still talk to that family member?

-Imagine telling your family about your child’s Celiac Disease and they think that it is okay to give them “just a little bit” and they say things like “he/she does not look sick” or “are you sure it was the “gluten” making them sick?” (Like you and your child don’t know when they have ingested gluten…others know when they have a cold, the symptoms are easy to recognize each time you get a cold; the same is true with Celiac Disease and a gluten reaction.)

-Imagine trying to explain to your family or strangers that your child is not being a “brat”; and that he/she has autism and is having a difficult time adjusting to this new environment. Imagine dealing with the disapproving and incriminating stares from strangers and not ever being able to lose your composure.

-Imagine sitting across from your doctor and hearing him tell you that you have breast cancer and your first thought is “OMG, how will I safely feed my food allergic child while going through this?” (You know that well meaning neighbors and friends can’t bring meals that are safe for your child when you are going through chemo.)

These mother’s wear a halo and a cape that is invisible to many, but not to me. I see the invisible super hero emblem that you display proudly each time your child needs to eat. These mother’s are truly super heroes! I am not saying that these mom’s love their child more than other moms; what I am saying is that they spend more time actively loving, worrying and preventing tragedy than the average mother. These mothers and their children truly inspire me and I am thrilled to be able to allow them some time to relax and feel the difference when dining at One Dish Cuisine Cafe, Deli & Bakery. This is why I am committed to opening more safe havens for these children and their parents.

Mother’s Day would not be complete without honoring the other great mothers in my life. My mother-in-law, Pat, raised a wonderful son, David, who is committed to welcoming folks back to the table with me here at One Dish Cuisine.  Pat’s weekly presence and support mean so much to me and I am so grateful to have her love and support and to have her in my life.

Additionally, my daughter-in- laws are wonderful mother’s to my two grandsons! I am so thankful for their monetary sacrifices and the decisions they both made to stay home and be with their child and bringing them to the cafe so I can see them! Truly, incredible.

My ex mother-in-law, Emily, is still a support system to this day! She is still that safe port in the storm for me when I need to talk with someone and she always gives me the courage to stand up and dust myself off and move on when things go wrong. I am so grateful that we have maintained such a wonderful relationship and I have learned so much from her and am happy to still call her my friend.

For my sisters (and sister-in-laws) who each show their children the love and support that they need; unique to their own circumstances. Each of you inspires me with the challenges that you handle so well each and every day.  Thanks for being great moms and great sisters.

My mother, Vickie, who had seven children in eight years (no twins), buried two of them when they were young and still managed to pick herself up each day and  chose to see the “good” in her situation. Not only has she financially supported One Dish Cuisine but she taught me that loving and giving is the most important thing a person can do on this earth and when you combine that with following your passion; then you will feel complete. It took me quite a few years to get over the self induced “pity party” that I was having about my own situation, but thanks to my mom, I finally saw the light and understood that the food I was making for myself could also serve the needs of others.  I am happy to be able to live with passion, purpose and sleep well at night. I have never worked so hard or so many hours in my life and I don’t have any personal time for friends or family, but my mother taught me that this type of sacrifice is okay; knowing that what I am building here is so important for so many in need. I am so grateful that she taught me not to be afraid of challenges and that faith, love and giving are the most important gifts that I possess and that I have the ability to use these “gifts” every day and these gifts that I have don’t cost me anything when I give freely.  I am thankful for my mother never giving up on me, she is truly my hero.

Happy Mother’s Day to all of you great mothers, step mothers, caregivers, etc; you all are Super Heroes!

I publish this each year.

Safe Harbor

Our customers truly are amazing people and I wanted to share this story with you because it is such a positive message and it made me cry! On, Friday, some regular customers came into the cafe for lunch.  This family has many serious food allergies and Celiac Disease.

-Mom: Fish Allergy    -Dad: Shellfish Allergy and Celiac   -Son: Allergies to Peanuts, Tree Nuts, Legumes, carrots, coconut and strawberry and Celiac Disease  -Daughter: Allergies to Peanuts, Tree nuts and Legumes.

Dave summoned me out to the dining room to see them.  They were anxiously waiting for Dave and I to come over to chat with them. They presented us with a card. They said it was for their 5 Year “Cafe-iversary “; they have been coming here to eat for 5 years!

The card and message inside said:

Thank you for your kindness, your generosity and your caring. You’re a great example of everything that’s right with the world.

There was a hand written note inside as well:

Maureen and Dave,

It is hard to find the words to tell you what you and your cafe mean to us; I will try my best. It has been five years since we found refuge in the harbor of your cafe. We have been through a lot due to food; just as you have. It was like finally coming in from a storm-tossed sea and finding calm, refuge, safety and those who understood what it was like being out “there”. 

My children saw, for the first time; inclusion. They learned that there are people who do care that they live through a meal! They belonged somewhere outside of the haven of their home and that is everything.  

Five years ago, you helped restore a faith in humanity, helped us feel hope and understanding in what can be an isolating existence. The cafe is open at a cost to your time and energy; but also it hard not to feel the thought behind every sticker, placement of artwork, sign, logo and basket.  You serve not only hungry customers, but the greater good; for every person, especially children, who walk in and think, “whoa, I actually do fit in somewhere, I’m not alone in this after all!”

You open a heart and a world of possibility and are their “safe harbor” in what sometimes feels like a world of storm tossed seas.  These past five years have been some of our toughest; but knowing you has eased that and we thank you. 

Happy Cafe-iversary!

We both teared up and I cried.  As I reflected; I came to the conclusion that Dave and I (and our staff) are immune to the fact that what we do is special; because it is all we do, all day, every day. It was so nice to actually hear their appreciation and read what they had to say. It was also so welcome; it was a reminder to all of us. I shared it with our staff, because without them, we could not do what we do. The staff loved reading the card and note.

We truly have the most wonderful customers. A month or so ago, some regular customers came in and left us a very generous tip…it was so unexpected, but it  definitely lightened our financial burden that month. We are so grateful for all of our wonderful customers.  We want to thank all of you, for being great customers. We are so thankful for the wonderful artwork that the kids leave us on the bulletin board and for all of you sharing our information with friends, family and in your online forums. Most of all, we are thankful for all of you for trusting us to safely feed you and your family.

We are honored and working hard at blazing a trail and making a positive difference.

Thank you all for being so supportive!

Daiya “Cheese” Ingredient Changes

A few months ago I did a blog post about Daiya removing Pea Protein and Carrageenan from their sliced”cheeses”.  I knew that was most likely what happened as soon as I saw the new design on the packaging because that is when they usually make ingredient changes! So, that has been great.  We were waiting for our bulk shredded “cheeses” to be changed over to the new recipe. The big news is that we started receiving the new  Mozarella “Cheese” Shreds this week!

So, how does this affect you when dining with us? What are the new ingredients?

Here is my review: It melts better, has a creamier texture, tastes better and does not have the after taste! I am so thrilled with the new shreds and the slices. I am finally enjoying eating “cheeses”.

In the Blue Kitchen, (no dairy):

  • all Daiya sandwich “cheeses” are free of pea protein and carrageenan
  • all Daiya pizza “cheese” is free of pea protein and carrageenan
  • the Daiya “cream cheese” still has pea protein in the bakery for carrot cupcakes
  • the Earth Balance Mayo and Vegan Butter still contain pea protein

** This also means we have to completely re-do our labeling for our blue line pizzas and macaroni and cheese. Please understand that we may not have some of your favorite frozen items in stock until we can re-do all of our labels!

Here are the new ingredients in the Mozzarella Shreds:

Daiya Mozzarella Shreds: Filtered Water, Tapioca Starch, Coconut Oil, Non-GMO Expeller Pressed: Canola and/or Safflower Oil, Potato Protein Isolate, Vegan Natural Flavors, Sea Salt, Tricalcium Phosphate, Lactic Acid (Vegan), Whole Algal Flour, Konjac Gum, Xanthan Gum, Yeast Extract.

A few months ago I did a blog post on the changes in the slices and went into detail about some of the new ingredients.   You can scroll back to that blog to see what I had to say.

Please See Daiya Website to see ingredients in all their “Cheeses”:

Click Here for Daiya Website

 

A Tribute to Miss Susan

For most of you, Miss Susan is synonymous with One Dish Cuisine..she has been here pretty much since we opened the doors!  Many of  you have come to know her from her working the front counter on Saturdays, Sundays and some Mondays and other weekdays.  You all got experience her Joy; she exuded joy, all day, every day, 365 days a year. This is who she was, she loved people, and it showed.  She loved being here to take good care of all of you….Maureen and Dave won’t take a day off together unless Miss Susan was at the front counter taking care of all of you.

Maureen and Miss Susan met at an Annapolis Celiac Support Group back in 2008 and became fast friends.  You all know the feeling when you meet somebody and you just know that you will be friends with them forever! Well, that is what I knew the day I met her.

Susan retired from the Post Office where she graciously took care of customers in the Crownsville branch. Even in retirement, she kept busy and worked part time at the customer service desk in Annapolis Mall until they did away with the customer service kiosk. Then; in 2012, when One Dish Cuisine opened the cafe and bakery, she joined us at the front counter.

Susan was a fixture here and everyone who met her absolutely loved her.  Why? All because she loved people. She became one of Dave’s closest friends too. We valued her opinion and her friendship. Susan did much of the prep work here too. She would make the salad dressings, the croutons; etc. The greatest thing about Susan is how she took the young high school kids under her wing and trained them.  She knew right away if we had a winner or not!  Her gentle, but firm guidance led to a productive employee.

She was entrusted with a key to the business and was the only person that could cover the front (other than my son) if  Dave and I needed to be out at the same time! Susan was also a confidant for me. When I was exhausted or frustrated, she always understood because she worked with me and saw everything first hand.

One of her greatest gifts was her ability to get me out to do something other than work at One Dish Cuisine. Even when I was exhausted, Susan could get me out for a quick pick me up. Once, she picked me up on my day off…a warm spring day, and we rode the trike into downtown Annapolis for lunch…somehow Maureen got “glutened” and Susan did not.  Despite the “glutening”, we had a great time and were planning another outing this Spring (no food for Maureen). We had so much fun cruising Annapolis, a town that we both know so well. We joked that it felt like we were in high school, “skipping school” and hanging out in Annapolis. Sometimes after a tough Saturday, we would stop for a glass of wine on the way home and just relax; something that is foreign to me! Susan instinctively knew when I needed this girl time!

There were so many times that she invited me out with her and some of her lifelong girlfriends; but I just could not take the chance on getting sick; because I would be out for 10 days if I got “glutened”.  She always understood that I had to opt out so I could stay safe and continue to work each day.  Susan was lucky, even though she also had Celiac, her reaction to it was not as severe as mine.

When I think of Susan I think of this quote by Mother Teresa:

“Joy is prayer, joy is strength, joy is love; joy is a net of love by which you can catch souls”

Miss Susan caught my heart and soul along with so many others. She died suddenly of a heart attack on Thursday, December 14th. I don’t think One Dish Cuisine will ever be the same without her. I am so thankful for her friendship and love and for her dedication to One Dish Cuisine and the safety of our customers. Godspeed Miss Susan..till we meet again; and yes, I will bring you a grilled cheese and mac n cheese from One Dish!

On Wednesday, the 20th of December, there will be a Celebration of Life at Baldwin Memorial United Methodist Church, 921 Generals Highway, Millersville, MD 21108; all are welcome. There will be a gathering for all family and friends at 10am, service at 11am, immediately followed by a luncheon. The luncheon will be across the street at Baldwin Hall. We hope everyone can make it and please feel free to share this post.

The burial will be a private event for family, at a later date.

One Dish Cuisine will provide some of the desserts at the luncheon.

Obituary for Susan Boyd Caldwell

New Celiac and Autism Research

Every year I get my fundraising letter from Dr Fasano at the Celiac Center at UMass. What I love about the letter is that he highlights some of the studies that they are doing at this time. They are doing some really cool stuff! (what I hate is that it comes on paper in the mail, so I had to paraphrase and type all of this stuff into the computer rather than give you a link to click on) Once again; I am predicting that many of the big breakthroughs on celiac and autism will come from Dr Fasano and the gang at UMASS Center for Celiac Research and Treatment.

-Collecting Diapers for Celiac Research for their  Celiac, Genomic, Environmental, Microbiome and Metabolomic Study. Basically, they are collecting stool, blood and other tissue samples from infants and mothers from the US, Italy and Spain. They have more than half of the 500 babies already enrolled. The goal is to understand why some people who are genetically at-risk will go on to develop celiac disease; while others who are at risk don’t develop it. By studying many factors along with the microbial colonies in the gut, they hope to ultimately prevent celiac disease before it begins. Well, if I was a baby and had a diaper, I would enroll myself in this study.

-Building an Intestine in the Lab where they are using intestinal tissue from volunteers to grow intestinal “organoids”. They use the 3D mini organoids to study the effects of different drugs and pre/probiotics on the human intestine. I am glad to see this study happening because I remember Dr Fasano saying on one of his visits to the cafe that his fear is that pre and probiotics may be overused and we might become immune to them like what is happening with antibiotics.

-Connecting the Mind and the Gut: the “enteric nervous system” is like our “little brain: in our guts and it’s communication with our “big brain” can have enormous effects on our mood and health.  I remember Dr Fasano saying “the gut is not like Las Vegas; what happens in the gut does not stay in the gut”.  Parents of kids with Autism have been saying this for about 20 years!  I am so glad to see this area being really researched. Recent results (Dr MR Fiorentino’s lab) showed an altered blood-brain barrier and impaired intestinal barrier could very well play a role in neuroinflammation in those with Autism Spectrum Disorders. They hope to make significant contributions to discovering a mechanism that could be used for prevention. (The belief used to be that the body and brain have different immune systems and are separate and therefore don’t communicate; but researchers at UVA discovered the link via the lymph nodes. I blogged about this 2 years ago)

-Celiac Education and Outreach: Celiac Symposium last April and outreach and donations for food for hurricane victims.

The Center for Celiac Research and Treatment is dedicated to improving the quality of life for patients with celiac disease, while learning the cause of the disease and finding a cure.  However, due to reductions in the NIH  (National Institute of Health) Budget they are reliant more than ever before on donations!  

This is one cause that I scrape up some money to support each year.  donate here

Learn More Here