Food Allergies and the Food Network…


So, during Food Allergy Awareness Week, I urged others with allergies that we may want to take the focus off of the government and move it on to other titans in the food industry.  While I said it ought to be next year’s plan, I started early.  I submitted a note via contact form at the Food Network site, and this is the reply I received (my original message following);

From: Scripps Networks Customer Service <IS6061_22115@is.instantservice.com>
To: ____@_____________.___
Sent: Thu, May 20, 2010 2:57:14 PM
Subject: RE: Food Network Specials (#6563-175954277-3355)

Thank you for your email.

We appreciate the time you took to contact us and will be glad to forward your comments and suggestions to the Programming Department for review.

Scripps Networks
Customer Service

Show: Food Network Specials
Cable Company:
Last Viewed:
Type: question

Comment:
Hello Foodie Friends,

I write to you today to express my disappointment in that fact that I haven’t seen a prominent (or any) acknowledgment of this week as Food Allergy Awareness Week, either on your website or on the network itself.

According to the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network:

• More than 12 million Americans have food allergies. That’s one in 25, or 4% of the population.

• The annual number of emergency room visits due to food-induced anaphylaxis in the U.S. ranges from 50,000 to 125,000, depending on the source.

• Eight foods account for 90% of all food-allergic reactions in the U.S.: milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts (e.g., walnuts, almonds, cashews, pistachios, pecans), wheat, soy, fish, and shellfish.

• Even trace amounts of a food allergen can cause a reaction.

These are just a few of many other interesting and informative statistics.  As a (or THE) leader in food related information and entertainment, I feel that you ought to consider yourselves somewhat responsible for informing chefs and cooks everywhere of the dangers of cross-contamination.

I love watching many of your programs, and would love to see one geared toward allergy-friendly meals, procedures, and adaptations.  Even a one-off special with several food chefs or someone intelligent/informative with impeccable cleanliness in the kitchen like Alton Brown would be awesome… but even an online article or PSA would be a great start.

Like Spider-Man’s uncle Ben said, “With great power comes great responsibility”.  You, my friends, are the great food power.

Many state governments have declared this week Food Allergy Awareness Week.  With your help, we could sway the rest of the states and perhaps the Federal Government next year!

Here are some resources for your convenience:

► Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network: http://www.foodallergy.org/
► Food Allergy Initiative: http://www.faiusa.org

Thank you for your time & attention, I hope to hear from you soon, and look forward to your thoughts on the issue at hand!

-Eric

____@_____________.___

Odd.  Who are the Scripps Networks Customer Service?  Is this automated.  It took over a week to get a reply, and this was it.  I’m highly disappointed.  I’m going to have to try an email onslaught, & perhaps some snail mail.

Food Allergy Awareness Week


If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter, you’re most likely already annoyed by my Food Allergy Awareness Week related updates, links, and tweets.  I would apologize, but I’m not sorry.  I rant occasionally about my deathfish troubles without the need of a week dedicated to it, and I generally get at least a good dialog going.  I thank you know for your patience and interest.  This week is set aside for just such ranting and lunacy, and as one of the afflicted, I feel it’s my duty to be vocal all week.

Again… I realize that food allergy cures and research aren’t top priority to everyone, and that there are many many other diseases and health issues that also deserve research and attention… a lot of them much higher on the “urgency” scale.  But, I refer you to the aforementioned duty to be vocal this week.

There are many food allergy stories out there this week if you’re looking for them.  You’ve heard my rant, now I invite you to hear the stories of others.

These sites have many many excellent resources for information, education, activism, & general awareness:

I encourage you to take the time and explore the sites if you’d like to know what it’s like to deal with an allergy yourself, or have a child with a severe allergy.  (You can also hit up my Allergies category.)

For my fellow Food Allergy Afflicted Friends…

While I get behind these campaigns to wrote to your local, state, & national politicians…  I just get a feeling that this needs to come form somewhere else.  Maybe it’s a political ideaology thing… I don’t want toe government to take care of me.  Perhaps I don’t want the government to force people to take care of me.  I feel that if that’s the case, it will be a bare minimum.  We need to get the food and health industries behind this movement.  Companies have to want to be allergy and cross-contamination friendly because it gives them an edge on the competition.

Instead of writing to a politician and getting a nifty gold-sealed proclamation… I’d rather see a special on the Food Network, a cooking publication that’s not allergy related already to pick up on it and do a special issue. I’d like to see Pizza Hut finally tell me where and how their sauce may come into contact with shellfish. I’d rather know why Subway uses one knife to cut all of their sandwiches.  I’d love to know why restaurants with multiple deep fryers don’t assign one for shellfish and one for other foods.

I’d like to see labels have to declare more than just the big 8 allergens, but to clearly define all ingredients. Even mollusks, which I’m allergic to (and which fall under the “shellfish” category) don’t have to be listed prominently under current FALCPA regulations.  There are many other things that people are allergic to… corn, peppers, chocolate, … it’s imperative that everything gets labeled!

We also need to stick together.  To me, it seems like the bulk of allergy literature relates to wheat/gluten and peanuts, and these are the ones people are most aware of.  You can somewhat easily get peanut butter substitutes, and on the other side of the ‘Burgh there’s even a gluten-free bakery.  I’ve never seen a place advertise “Shellfish Free!”  It makes me a little jealous.  (I always joke with the wife that if I ever win the lottery, I’m opening a restaurant called “F___ Shellfish”.)

I’d like to remind all of us in the top 8 that there are not only eight categories of us, but many many others without a name or a voice out there.

Let’s go after the Food Industry next ear, and not the government.