Challenge Accepted.


So, the other day I read a Facebook post from Pittsburgh media personality, Marty Griffin. I think Marty is a great talk show host. He does not tow a party line. He seems to be a man of common sense. His job is to stir the pot and get discussions going. I have no doubt he comes at it from the right place. I believe he sees his function as sparking discussion whether it is an easy or a difficult discussion to have. He is by all accounts a guy that really helps his community with his position and I love how he speaks about his family.

I honestly haven’t listened in a while. I know he riles people up. It’s part of the job. I have heard him say things about food allergies that I considered ignorant, but people are complex and you can’t hold your opinions on them to one single issue. I still follow him on social media.

This was the post;

Message from a friend.
What do you say?

This coronavirus is the strangest virus I’ve ever heard of. It’s very dangerous the way it spreads. It is so mysterious the way it lurks in schools, but then dies at Home Depot. It can wreak havoc in churches; praying people are exceptionally vulnerable! Although it’s Mind-boggling how it vanishes when people stand close together holding signs, destroying businesses, homes, property, monuments, etc. Yet, standing to watch a marathon or a concert triggers its wrath. It is sneaky. It can spread when buying clothes at Kohl’s but not at Target. It is non-alcoholic. It can’t spread when you are buying beer. It lives for two days on Amazon boxes, you must wait 48 hours to touch them but It can’t survive on Dunkin Donuts coffee cups, so enjoying a hot cup of joe is safe. It is the most curious thing, how it lives on basketballs, baseball bats and ballet bars, but dies on WWE ropes and Walmart shopping carts. It is spread by hair stylists, dog groomers, and dentists, but not by bank tellers, cashiers, and fast food workers. It’s so smart. It won’t bother the first 10 people but it knows when the 11th person shows up so be careful if that’s you. It even knows what you want vs what you need. If you want a massage or your nails done it is very actively on the prowl and not even a mask can stop it but If you need a plumber, it is weak, and a mask will keep it away. It also seems to be most dangerous after 5:30pm so businesses must start to close before the virus comes out and wreaks havoc upon the populations. Whoever heard of such a smart sneaky virus?!?😂

~copied, author unknown

It, like many other things I have seen on social media lately, just had me exhausted & exasperated.

I made a comment. Not only should I never read the comments, I should never post a comment. It’s a sickness, I tell you. My comment garnered a request. I am happy to oblige.

Please give examples with proof to back it up.

Rather than rant on FB, and in order collect my thoughts/links, I decided to post it here. I was even going to go to a Spongebob Mocking Text Generator to use that and post the OP sentence by sentence & argue it. But I want to be calm & civil. I want to pass on information that I have read, & maybe explain how I have come to perceive it. I may not be correct. I am not a scientist. I am not a journalist. I am just an asshole that figured out how to set up a WordPress a few years back and posts things for about 3 or 4 people to read occasionally.

None of us know the correct course of action. We could, maybe, use past pandemics as a model. We could, maybe, listen to the advise of experts… from doctors to scientists to statisticians, maybe even teams of the aforementioned. We have been inundated with media (and social media) that contradicts itself every few days.

I believe both the state and federal government failed to take swift decisive action, and they failed miserably to communicate how that action was to be rolled out, or why they made the decisions they did. This is not a political post. Leave your “Trump this” and “Wolfe that” at the door. They both needed to have a quick and concise plan, and that did not happen. I believe that government inaction/incompetence, coupled with the ever-contradicting media rushing to be first to a story (or to sensationalize to garner clicks), and further complicated with the panicked populace using social media as an outlet to voice their fear and frustrations… has built a mounting anxiety of epic proportions.

Proof, or at least validation, as requested for the above paragraph:

That is a long-winded way of putting an explanation behind my perspective. Here we go;

This coronavirus is the strangest virus I’ve ever heard of. It’s very dangerous the way it spreads.

Agreed. Read this article from WebMD: How Does Coronavirus Spread? Boy, we’re off to a good start.

It is so mysterious the way it lurks in schools, but then dies at Home Depot.

Um. It’s in both places, but let’s think about it logically. Did you read the article above about how it spreads? (Or one from the CDC, the WHO, Scientific American, or the Mayo Clinic if you prefer?)

Kids are in school for what? About 6 hours. Most of those kids are on buses to & from. Do you know how close together kids sit on the bus, in classrooms, the cafeteria? Have you ever seen a gym class or a playground? You have to realize its a Petri dish for communicable diseases on a good day, right? Right. Kids, though reminded, aren’t always the best at remembering social distancing or washing their hands.

You are hopefully at Home Depot for about an hour at most. If you need longer than that, ask an associate. They are generally knowledgeable or they can find someone who is. Please be polite though, as this is probably an insurmountably stressful time to be working. Better yet, it’s 2020. Order your stuff online and pickup in store and you’ll be in there 10 minutes tops. Hopefully the adults in the store (remember when they asked 1 person per family & no kids?) are able to remember social distancing (or read the arrows in the aisles or stickers on the floor), wearing masks, adhere to occupancy limits based on keeping customers well-spaced apart, and are good at dutifully washing (or at least sanitizing) their hands.

It’s all about risk. Please see this from the CDC: Deciding to Go Out – Venturing Out? Be Prepared and Stay Safe

This article from KLTV may help: Medical experts rank 36 activities by COVID-19 risk level

Does that make any sense? Going quickly in & out of a place of business while following the social distancing policies recommended by our governor puts you (and everyone you may come into contact with thereafter) at MUCH LESS RISK thank spending all day in close quarters with a large amount of tiny unsanitary people.

If you’re going to say it doesn’t seem to get a hold of children, please see this: ATTENTION PARENTS…. this morning I was notified that Lucas tested positive for COVID (Facebook) …and this: Kids with suspected Covid-related syndrome need immediate attention, doctors say (CNN)

It can wreak havoc in churches; praying people are exceptionally vulnerable!

Gonna go ahead and agree here, although it isn’t the praying that’s worrisome as much as the singing.

Read about how taking deep breaths and singing while packed together tightly is a perfect vehicle in which to spread the virus:

Read multiple accounts of pastors refusing to close churches thus promoting rampant spread:

I don’t even know if I really need to offer my take here. You can find many more examples on Google, and probably even Bing or Yahoo.

Although it’s Mind-boggling how it vanishes when people stand close together holding signs, destroying businesses, homes, property, monuments, etc. Yet, standing to watch a marathon or a concert triggers its wrath. It is sneaky.

What is sneaky here is the slight at the ongoing protests of the Black Lives Matter movement. I won’t get into that here, other than to say a few short things: It’s saying “black lives matter, too.” more than “only black lives matter.” It’s saying “black lives matter now.” Then again, what do I know? I’m a straight white guy who grew up in a sheltered suburb of a still largely segregated city. Listen to 8:46 by Dave Chappelle. If that doesn’t move you emotionally, I don’t know what will. And don’t confuse protesters with rioters and looters. They are diverting attention and skewing the message. Even you, “antifa!” Which by the way, is not an organization or a thing at all, but a philosophy. That philosophy was shred by the United States of America & most of the world when we kicked Hitler’s ass.

Back to the original discussion, and I don’t believe I have to say this. The protests are not organized or sanctioned by your state or local officials. OK, the governor got a great photo op and PR boost, or maybe, just maybe… he valued the ongoing betterment of society over his own personal health & safety? I don’t even know what to say here. No one anywhere gave anyone the OK to protest. The protesters have had enough. They want heard. They want noticed. They want change.

It can spread when buying clothes at Kohl’s but not at Target.

Target sells food and other essential items. Kohl’s does not. What do you need from Kohl’s that you can’t get at Target or Walmart? Don’t say better clothes because in the early stages of the pandemic you were asked to not go anywhere. I don’t think I need to cite a source or proof here. Again, if people were in Target or Walmart wandering around aimlessly instead of shopping “on a mission” to get in and get out as explained above with the case of Home Depot vs. school (and all those links), then that is their own entirely stupid prerogative.

It is non-alcoholic. It can’t spread when you are buying beer.

Actually I believe alcohol kills the virus… so if it was sentient it probably would choose to be non-alcoholic. (That’s washing your hands with it, not drinking it.) If you remember, alcohol sales were shut down entirely, then opened because the government realized that withdrawal symptoms from alcoholism could be deadly. This isn’t a moral debate. Again with risk, getting in & out of the beer store quickly, & your personal feelings on whether it’s a nessecity.

It lives for two days on Amazon boxes, you must wait 48 hours to touch them but It can’t survive on Dunkin Donuts coffee cups, so enjoying a hot cup of joe is safe.

This is where maybe the media is sort-of to blame? They rushed to get the information out. Or was it groups of doctors and scientists publishing studies to quick? Was it the world’s hunger for information? I don’t know. The risk seems to have gone down. Did we wipe-down Amazon boxes or anything else that was delivered at the beginning of the pandemic? You’re damn right we did. Do we now? Not so much, but we discard packaging right away & wash our hands immediately. Why the change? Well, we did this curious thing where we adapted our behaviors based on the best and latest information available. I know that sounds crazy. But it works for us. For some reason, the “experts” as they are, decided that take-out food was low risk. Some still advised to wipe-down and discard packaging. Perhaps the push was because (we can only hope) that food-service employees are trained repeatedly on sanitary practices, so ramping up a bit more to protect them selves and the public may not have been that difficult. Word on the street is that Amazon doesn’t really care about employee health & safety, let alone yours.

I don’t even know how to tie these together:

So, there’s that.

It is the most curious thing, how it lives on basketballs, baseball bats and ballet bars, but dies on WWE ropes and Walmart shopping carts.

It’s not the objects in question, although it can probably live on all of those surfaces… it’s the activity. You are most likely breathing heavily while playing basketball, baseball, or dancing a ballet. Did you read above why that’s bad with choirs? I would guess that also applies here.

The WWE, I believe, is testing all participants involved. Also, they dubiously were classified as essential by the state of Florida. I mean, Florida. I don’t know if I would agree with this, but if they feel they can do it within the guidelines of social distancing and that state is corrupt enough to agree, who am I to stop them?

Yeah. Maybe the WWE doesn’t have the welfare of their people or the general public in mind. I don’t think I would hold them up as a standard-bearer of science, morality, or medical advice.

It is spread by hair stylists, dog groomers, and dentists, but not by bank tellers, cashiers, and fast food workers.

Yes, yes, & yes. No, no, & no.

A hair stylist is in your face for an extended period of time, probably in a ship full of other stylists or barbers in other people’s faces. The dog groomer is all over your dog with their hands… both potentially spreading COVID-19-laced bits of hair airborne. Masks mitigate risk, but not when you aren’t also standing the recommended distance apart. Also, hair stylist work in cash tips. No one wants your filthy cash.

The dentist is literally in your face. That job is disgusting enough without the threat of COVID-19 being spread from patient to dentist or patient to patient. I would say that if the dentist was open, they would handle emergencies & take all of the recommended steps to maintain your safety. I was unaware that dentists were ordered to shut down.

Bank tellers are generally behind a big Plexiglas wall. Most banks were drive-through only for a while anyway, no? Keeping customers apart car-to-car instead of in line in person is half the battle. Cashiers & fast food workers are now behind a big Plexiglas shield. Plus, food is essential, and haircuts are not. I think we covered stores & food already with the requested examples & proof.

As above with us personally lightening up on Amazon packages and the great Commonwealth of Pennsylvania going into the green phase, maybe it is time to get back to the stuff. I anticipate a post-Memorial Day & post-protest spike though, so I’m gonna sit back a while.

I will eventually get back to my awesome barber shop, and I sure need it. They will get a big tip and I’ll sanitize the money first.

It won’t bother the first 10 people but it knows when the 11th person shows up so be careful if that’s you.

Social Distancing

Again, it’s all about the exponential spread. There has to be a number to pick. Ten people will spread it to less than eleven. You know how math works, right?

Yes, 10 is an arbitrary number, but there had to be a recommended number.

It even knows what you want vs what you need. If you want a massage or your nails done it is very actively on the prowl and not even a mask can stop it but If you need a plumber, it is weak, and a mask will keep it away.

Facemask/Peeing Meme

What? You want someone, potentially an asymptomatic spreader, putting their hands all over your mostly naked body? Good luck with that. Masks work in conjunction with social distancing. How can we not all agree on that already?

If you need a plumber, it’s probably an emergency. Feces backed up in your house, or a lack of running water may not help with the whole hand-washing thing. If the plumber is willing to come out, it (again) is an acceptable risk. Again… getting a massage or getting your nails done may not be as essential as having a functioning toilet.

Got it?

It also seems to be most dangerous after 5:30pm so businesses must start to close before the virus comes out and wreaks havoc upon the populations.

Aren’t you snarky?

Stores close early or open late to limit their employee’s exposure to the general public (some of whom erroneously believe their liberty is being threatened while they are asked to follow some pretty simple social distancing guidelines for the time being to promote the improved health of everyone), and to give the employees (or contracted specialty cleaning crews) a chance to sanitize the stores from top to bottom before the next day, all without extending the essential workers’ (who are are probably under inordinate amounts of stress) shifts.

A lot of these same stores offer early hours to the most vulnerable groups of the population.

Does that clear that up?

Whoever heard of such a smart sneaky virus?!?😂

By now, we all have. Hopefully, anyway. Although, a lot of us don’t seem to understand it yet, including the experts. Hopefully we get a treatment or a vaccination soon.

Have you heard of it now?

~copied, author unknown

Of course.

But to the commenter on my comment, I hope I did provide enough examples with proof to back things up for you. I hope you weren’t looking for anecdotal evidence. I hope I opened up your mind a bit. Maybe we can learn from each other. I am just looking to keep my family and myself safe during all this. That extends to friends and co-workers and yes, the general public. It would be nice if we could all stick to a plan.

Avoid it like the plague.

I’m pretty sure this is illegal. (Driving advice for horn-honking traffic trolls.)


I’m pretty sure this is illegal, but I see it happen all the time.  Can someone of authority weigh in on this?  Opinions are of course welcome, but if you’re going to claim why it’s legal/illegal… you have to give me some kind of backup.

Let me describe the scenario with the help of an illustration thanks to Paint.NET, Google Maps, & a Google image search

This is a dick-move.

This is a dick-move.

We’ll pretend I’m the blue car, behind the white truck, and in front of the little yellow bastard.

The white truck is trying to make a left at the light, only problem being (use your imagination here) a flurry of automobiles in the other 2 oncoming lanes coming forth with less than a car-length in between them, and at a speed well over the posted 25MPH limit.  (Never-mind that here the middle lane switches traffic directions depending on the time of day – that’s a whole different ridiculous issue.)

Of course, the truck is forced to stop in what I would like to consider the middle of the intersection, causing frustration to rise exponentially for each halted vehicle behind the pale horse of immobilization.

As the truck plays the waiting game, and I hone my skills with the Force trying to will a break in traffic to allow him (or her) to turn and more importantly get out of my way… the impatient arrogant bastard behind me decides to honk the horn.

Honking the horn when one is stuck in traffic is the action of a self-absorbed angry little person.  A honk is expected & appropriate if someone cuts you off, someone’s sitting at a green light, or backing into you.  A honk is inappropriate when everyone is stuck, & no one can go anywhere.

Now, I know this indignant troll of a human being wanted me to take the path of the green arrow above… which is a common Pittsburgh driving move.  I’m sure it happens elsewhere too, but it’s quite common around here.  I believe said move is not only illegal, but also quite dangerous.  I know passing on the shoulder is discouraged if not illegal, and doing it in the middle of an intersection isn’t the best idea.

It’s dangerous for the following reasons if you must know, traffic troll:

  • Someone in the inside oncoming lane could also be making a left, not see me coming around the side of the truck, and we plow right into each other.
  • The truck decides he’s (or she’s) had it with waiting to make a turn, and plows ahead in frustration as I move around & try to merge into that lane.
  • Someone from the road on the right may be coming to the intersection to make a legal right on red while it’s obvious that oncoming traffic is at a stand-still.
  • A final sequence, however unlikely… the light changes while I’m going around, and someone comes from the left straight through their way, and smacks into the side of me.

If you think of any other reasons why it’s a bad idea, please let me know.  If you can show me a link where the laws concerning such vehicular interactions reside online (especially for PA), I’d love to pass the link along to the honking trolls out there.

If you’re a traffic troll, I’d like to express to you that all you’re doing is putting the person in front of you in danger, as well as potentially yourself, and adding to the aggravation levels of everyone around you… when they’re already sufficiently aggravated.

This has been brought to you as a public service announcement warning against the dangers of traffic trolls.  I’m sure PennDOT and the State Police would get behind this if they read my blog.

You’re not a traffic troll, are you?

AllergyEats | Defining allergy-friendly restaurant survey results


So, a while ago I posted asking for you to help out Paul from Allergy Eats with defining “allergy-friendly” as it pertains to a restaurant.  I also took the time to post my own thoughts before I sent them on to be tabulated.

Well, now Paul has posted his summary & survey results to the still mysterious government body.  I enjoyed reading the results, so I thought I’d share:

AllergyEats | Blog Logo

AllergyEats Blog

The AllergyEats Blog | How do we define an allergy-friendly restaurant? A look at the survey results

It’s great to see the results, and I can’t wait to see where & how they’re put to use.  It’s also great that all of our comments were passed along with the report, so rest assured that your voice has been heard thanks to Paul.  Hopefully it lays groundwork for more gub’ment organizations to follow by example!  (Although, we need to push from a consumer level too.)

My take on the results… it looks like we’re all looking for everyone in the restaurant from kitchen to wait staff to managers to be trained in food allergies and cross-contamination and possibly even certified… which seems like a no-brainer.  Even if that’s all we get, it’s a great start.

Employee answering phone needs to be knowledgeable: 1

Apparently, I’m the only one who wants the person answering the phone to know what they’re talking about.  Ha ha.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to define shellfish on the phone, or ask if they have any only to get there after being told no… and they totally do.  Perhaps it’s shame on me for not asking to talk to a manager…  but the person answering the phone ought to be knowledgeable enough to hand-off such questions, so I stand by my statement.

Cross contamination: (42 responses)

Understands and avoids cross-contamination:  21

Separate and cleaned prep areas and cookware:  20

Should wash hands:  1

Who said they should wash their hands?  Seriously?  I hope they’re doing that anyway… and that they don’t really need those signs in the restroom as a reminder.

Treats ALL allergies the same, not just the Big 8: 1

Apparently I’m the lone theorist there.  Really?  Well, I’m in the Top 8 category, so I guess… yo hell with the rest of you!  Ha ha.

No nuts strewn about the restaurant: 1

This one agitates me.  If it’s part of the restaurant’s shtick/ambiance/personality… then just give it up.  I like being able to walk into Five Guys and grab a tray of peanuts.  I don’t expect (or want) to dine at Long John Silvers or Red Lobster any time soon.

Specific allergen menus available in-house (not just online): 13

Allergen symbol list on menus: 12

Online food allergy menu: 4

All excellent points.  I’ve blogged about the need for menu symbols before.  Let’s get this done, people!

Ability to print out all ingredients for customer / show labels to customer if necessary: 11

Great idea.  A representative from Bob Evans once emailed me a chart detailing where everything was cooked in the kitchen & what surfaces would be safe with my shellfish allergy while they has a seasonal Shrimp stir-fry dish.  How cool is that?

At any rate, read the Blog at AllergyEats, and leave some feedback whether you participated in the original survey or not… it’s still valuable.  I’d also appreciate any comments here.  I’m sure the peanut thing will get some people riled up.  Ha ha.

 

Get a proclamation from your state governor that says “diarrhea”!


Food Allergy Awareness Week

FAAW

So, Food Allergy Awareness Week 2011 is still a little far off, but at the same time it’s quickly approaching.

Personally, I’m all about pushing it from a consumer-level rather than having some government mandates handed down to reluctant (and perhaps allergen-ignorant) business owners.

But, at the same time, I see the monumental importance of government recognition.  It spreads awareness and gives hope to those of us trying to express the validity and seriousness of food allergies and anaphylaxis.

So, I urge you to do your part, and write to the governor of your state asking for them to declare recognition of Food Allergy Awareness Week.  From the FAAN website:

Take ActionFood Allergy Awareness Week: May 8-14, 2011

Ask your Governor to Issue a Food Allergy Awareness Week Proclamation

Issuing a Food Allergy Awareness Week (FAAW) proclamation is a great way to help raise awareness in your State!

Ask your Governor to declare May 8-14, 2011 Food Allergy Awareness Week!

In 2010, FAAW was recognized in a RECORD 37 STATES! Let’s break this record in 2011!

As of Feb 8, 2011, only one proclamation has been issued (Minnesota). Only 49 more states to go!

So, what are you waiting for?  It only takes a few minutes, and you may even get a nifty official-looking document from your governor with a state seal that has the word “diarrhea” on it.  I mean, how funny is that?


Defining Allergy-Friendly


AllergyEats.com

AllergyEats.com

So, quite a task has been put to the food allergy community by Allergy Eats:  Define what it means to for a restaurant to be “allergy-friendly”.

You may have seen it in a recent re-posting by me, or on your own.  I urge you to form your own response and send it to contact@allergyeats.com.  I figured that I’d use this blog to sort out my thoughts before I sent them on to Paul at Allergy Eats.  I don’t exactly how I’ve morphed in to a food allergy advocate of sorts, but I feel that it’s important to help out any way that I can, and encourage others to keep up work that moves us all in the right direction.  There are already some great comments on the blog, and I’m sure he’s got an inbox full of suggestions already… but it’s important to keep them coming so this can be looked at from multiple angles.

AllergyEats T-shirtI like bulleted lists for some reason, so that’s how I’ll try to organize my thoughts:

  • The restaurant has to have a policy that reaches to ALL levels. Too many times restaurants claim to have god allergy practices, but it doesn’t trickle down to the wait staff, the cooks, or anyone past management.  Having a policy is great, but it needs to be understood and respected through all levels.  I feel comfort in a place when the waitress has the manager or even the chef come out to discuss allergy & cross-contamination issues with me.  Training, some sort of certification, and re-training annually or semi-annually would be excellent.
  • Changing current thinking. This is a good one…  Today at Boston Market, I noticed a sign on top of the cash register that read something to the effect of “If you have food allergies, please talk to the manager before placing your order.”  It’s great they’re recognizing the fact that there are food allergies out there, but… the cash register is at the end of the counter, and only reached well after you place your order.  Also, I’d hope that someone with food allergies would already have a heightened awareness when going anywhere to eat.  (If not, please read this.) More thought needs to be put into place, not just “CYA” measures.
  • They have to exude reassurance. A poster is great.  An “allergy-friendly” menu is great.  A sign at the cash register or on your table or on the salad bar is great… but not enough.  In with the training on all levels, the sever (or whoever answers the phone) must bee confident with the answers that you want to hear.  No “I don’t think” or “not really” or “I’m not sure so you’d just better not order that” will do.  Have the right answers.  Know why.  Understand the severity.  Knowledge of the kitchen and where everything is cooked should be a must for servers and managers.  Nuts can’t just be “picked off”.  There’s no such thing as “oh a little won’t hurt” with butter.  The fryer doesn’t “get hot enough to kill anything you’re allergic to”.  It’s unsettling fr someone with food allergies to dine out.  Making them feel safe is a must for “friendliness”.
    • On a related note… especially the person answering your phone.  When dining out of town, I try to call ahead (or get my wife to call ahead for me).  My favorite response ever was an Amish place in Ohio where I asked if they had shellfish (“like shrimp or crab or oysters” I said)… the girl went on to say “No, we have oysters, but they’re in soup, and there’s shrimp… but it’s not in a shell.”  Needless to say, we didn’t go there.
  • All allergies are equal. It’s great to see “nut free” options, or “gluten-free” menus, but let’s treat all allergies with the same respect to cross contamination.  The top 8 are; Milk, Egg, Peanuts, Tree Nuts, Fish, Shellfish, Soy, & Wheat.  But, there are others too!  I know of people with severe allergies to peppers, and have heard of corn allergies.  These people need to feel safe too!  Current government regulations don’t regulate the labeling of any allergens other than the top 8, so that’s all that people seem to pay attention to.  Special attention needs to be given to all kinds of allergies, not just one allergen or group of singled-out allergens.
  • Know what you’re serving. Are their anchovies in the Italian dressing or Worcester sauce?  Is this fried in peanut oil?  The server shouldn’t necessarily need to know off hand, but this information should be able to be provided upon request. Having it in written form would be tremendous.  (We could go into other special dietary needs here too… not an allergy, but I have an aunt with Diverticulitus who needs to know if there are seeds or nuts that may be ground up and hidden in things like dressing or soups or bread.) Listing all this on a website would be excellent.
  • Separate locations & utensils for allergy-free meal preparation. Cross-contamination is huge.  I don’t worry about a mutant lobster crawling into my mouth by itself… but I do worry (immensely) that some scallop juice might be on the grill where my steak was cooked… or that someone who just made a shrimp cocktail didn’t wash their hands before making my salad.  I’d love to know that the place where I’m dining has a fish or shellfish only fryer, separate grill spaces for different kinds of meat (even a vegetarian/vegan section would be cool), even separate cutting boards, prep areas, knives, and other utensils.
    • Keep the nuts off the salad bar… near their own station.
    • Hey Subway, don’t put the “seafood” sub stuff right next to the other lunchmeat, and don’t cut those subs with the same knife you use for all the other subs!
  • Ability to accommodate the unusual. Say someone has an inhalation allergy to peanuts…  Can you seat them somewhere so that the people at the next table are able to order some peanut-encrusted dessert without throwing them into an anaphylactic fit?  Can you do this without rolling your eyes, sighing, and making it a big deal?
  • Special markers/identifiers. I saw a commenter note this in the comments on the Allergy Eats blog post, and it’s absolutely brilliant.  Something ought to be a literal red flag… in the system, on an order ticket, on the check, on even the plate itself.  Everyone knows that orange-rimmed coffee pots mean decaf.  Why not red for allergies?  Or get crazy & assign a color to each of the top 8 & one for “other” allergies?  Did I read that Legal Sea Foods does double-plating or something to that effect?  It’s genius.  I’d like to extend the symbols idea to the menu too… why not have some sort of system with easily recognized food allergy icons?

That’s my take for now, but there are already many other great suggestions in the comments section over at Allergy EatsPlease, take the time to send yours to contact@allergyeats.com before Feb. 2nd!

 

AllergyEats | Urgent request for support to help impact REAL, impending food allergy legislation!


This is an important one for my food allergy readers… please take the time to read this post from Allergy Eats and respond accordingly!  This is your chance to have some real input to actual legislation, not just another request to your state, federal, and local officials.

The entire post below is reposted with assumed permission… please re-post, re-blog, re-tweet, use your ham radio or the telegraph, and get the word out.

Urgent request for support to help impact REAL, impending food allergy legislation!

I am reaching out to the entire food allergy community with a great opportunity for us to have an impact on REAL, forthcoming food allergy legislation.

A few months ago, I was invited to work with a governmental body that is enacting a food allergy law pertaining to restaurants.  (For now, please respect my decision not to mention specifics.  I believe doing so could compromise my ability to effectively represent our food allergy constituency.)  I was, and remain, very excited about this opportunity to advocate for our community.

In the course of this group’s discussions, there seemed to be a lingering question – what is the definition of an allergy-friendly restaurant? While I was very comfortable responding to that question myself, I believed at the time that it would be more effective to have community comments, which I was (and am) very confident would support my position.  I suggested that I contact members of the food allergy community, via the thousands of AllergyEats members and social media followers, and solicit as many unprompted opinions as possible.

So here’s what I’m requesting.  Could you please take a moment to answer the following question:

How would you define an allergy-friendly restaurant?  (Please be as specific as possible.)

This is an absolutely critical opportunity to affect not only impending legislation, but legislation that could become a template for other states and municipalities across the nation!

I strongly urge you to take a few minutes to respond to this request.  I believe my effectiveness in advocating for the food allergy community will be directly impacted by how many supporters answer this call.  To that end, please also consider spreading this message as broadly as possible, using social media, blogs, or any other resource you have access to.  The more voices we have, the more effective we will be!

I assure you that I will continue to do my best in advocating for our community and I promise to share more about this particular legislation when appropriate.

Important Note: I need to collect responses by February 2, giving us just one week, so please consider responding as soon as possible.

Again, the question I am asking you to answer is:

How would you define an allergy-friendly restaurant?  (Please be as specific as possible)

Please submit your responses to me at contact@allergyeats.com or feel free to post your comments here on the blog by clicking Comments or Reply.  (Email is preferable, but either is greatly appreciated.)

Thank you for your support!

I’m going to say it even though I shouldn’t have to… comments on this blog are appreciated, but to get them to AllergyEats, please comment on the original blog post or email contact@allergyeats.com.

Sadly, this sums up my general attitude towards dining out with food allergies and “safe” menu options:

http://twitter.com/#!/FoodAllergyBuzz/status/30366826915434496

 

Prepping for Food Allergy Awareness Week 2011


Okay, so I’m on a roll this morning.  That Subway stuff struck a nerve.  It reminded me that I would like to have more consumer-driven responses to food allergy issues, and less government mandates.  Food Allergy Awareness Week is not for a few months (May 8-14, 2011), but it doesn’t mean that you can’t start getting ready now.

I just wrote to the Food Network, requesting some Food Allergy Awareness.  I used their contact form, and this is what I had to say…

I’m a big fan of all the Food Network shows.  I’d love to see an Iron Chef battle where they can’t use any of the “top 8” allergens.  I am allergic to shellfish, and always recoil slightly when it’s a lobster or crab battle… or when the inevitable prawn works its way into a dish.  There is a Food Allergy Awareness week every May.  It would be great timing for such an event… and really help the allergy awareness and cross-contamination cause.  There are MANY food-allergic foodies out there!

I’m sure you’re aware that the top 8 allergens are Milk, Eggs, Peanuts, Tree Nuts, Fish, Shellfish, Soy, & Wheat.  TO have an Iron Chef battle where they ahd to prepare meals without any of the top 8 allergens would be truly epic, and help show others out there that there ARE indeed alternatives & work-arounds when dealing with a life-threatening allergy.  Food allergy awareness week this year will be May 8-14, 2011.

Thank you for your time, I hope to hear your thoughts on this matter!

-Eric

I’d like to ask that you also write your own letter or email.  And, why stop at one? Please, share with me other places where you think we ought to write, and I’ll write to them too!

I’ll definitely be writing more, perhaps armed with statistics like the following (from Top8Free.com):

Prevalence of food allergies in the United States

Ninety percent of food allergies in the United States are caused by eight foods:  Milk, egg, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, fish, and shellfish.  This website is dedicated to a diet free of these allergens.  Of course, it is possible to be allergic to just about any protein.  In Japan, rice allergy is one of the offenders.

Just to give you a sense of how many kids are suffering from food allergies today, here is a table of the most common food allergies.  This does not count children with milk-soy protien intollerance or Celiac disease, only children with Ig-E mediated food allergies.

Percentage of young children with allergy to:

  • Milk 2.5%
  • Egg 1.3%
  • Soy 1.1% (There is little agreement on this number.  Estimates range from 1 to 5%)
  • Wheat 1.0%
  • Peanut 0.8%
  • Tree nuts 0.2%
  • Fish 0.1%
  • Shellfish 0.1%
  • Overall 6 to 8% of population

Percentage of adults with allergy to:

  • Shellfish 2.0%
  • Peanut 0.6%
  • Tree nuts 0.5%
  • Fish 0.4%
  • Milk  0.3%
  • Egg 0.2%
  • Soy 0.2%
  • Overall 3.7%

Source: Hugh A. Sampson, MD. “Update on food allergy“, Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, May 2004

While writing to politicians does gain some inroads, there are other productive avenues to explore.

 

AllergyEats interview with CEO of FAAN…


I’ve been meaning to reblog this for a a few days, but it’s been a hell of a week.  I haven’t posted any food allergy propaganda in a while, so I figured it may be time.

Check out this article from AllergyEats: An interview with Julia Bradsher, CEO of FAAN

An excerpt that got me a little excited:

Restaurant legislation is starting to get introduced in other states, too.

In Pennsylvania, House Bill 45 would require training programs designed to prepare candidates for certification exams to include training on food allergies, including a video and written materials.

Legislation in PA?  I need to do a little more research and some letter-writing.

While I generally would like to see a consumer-driven allergy-friendly service movement because I feel the “want to” motivation is better than the “have to” motivation, I don’t see legislation like this as a bad thing at all.  More education, information, and training on food allergies can only help everyone involved… and  hopefully over time help food allergy issues to be taken more seriously than they currently are.

While you’re over checking out the AllergyEats site, don’t forget they’re giving away free T-shirts!

 


Cake-Baking Hooligans


Testing out this Blackbird Pie Tweet-embedder that WordPress is talking about…

Apparently all I have to do it put the tweet’s url on a line all its own, and it imports the whole thing.  Pretty snazzy.

Really though… if I rode around in the back of my Subie or in the back of the wife’s Scion (assuming the seat was down), I’m pretty sure I’d get a ticket.  Even if I had the Ark of the Covenant that we had just rescued from the infamous  secret government warehouse… I’m pretty sure I’d still get a ticket.  Yet, these people on TV get a free pass.

Not that I’m a staunch seat-belt law supporter… but it is a law now, and I wear one as it has saved me from serious injury in the past.  Maybe I’m completely off base, as this does happen in other states where they might not have click-it-or-ticket laws.  I remember riding with my cousins in the back of my dad’s GMC pickup (with a cap) from here all the way to Myrtle Beach when I was a little kid.  Nobody died, and it was actually a fun trip.

I just think it’s funny that one can do something illegal on camera, broadcast it, and face no repercussions… yet I park on the street in from of my house 1 or 2 days a year on a non-holiday weekday between certain hours or on a street-sweeping day and I get a ticket.

 

AskCensus | A response on the ACS from the US Census Bureau:


So, out of all the people that I asked about the American Community Survey, none are so relevant as the U.S. Census Bureau itself.  After all, they’re the ones who put it out.  While PA State Rep. John Maher’s response is insightful and amusing, and the Spencarian’s Benjamin Kirby offers a different perspective… only the Census Bureau can comment officially.  It took me slightly longer than their professed 2-day response time to get back to me, but I’m sure they have better things to do than respond to some goofy idiot with pseudonym and an email account.  Also to be fair, they did kind of address my concerns on the FAQ.  I was just a little more long-winded about it.

Well, without further adieu, here’s what they had to say…

– ☞⌨☜ –

from: AskCensus <askcensus@custhelp.com>
reply-to: AskCensus <askcensus@custhelp.com>
to: recrat.demopublican@gmail.com
date: Thu, Oct 28, 2010
subject: The American Community Survey? [Incident: 000000-000000]

Recently you requested personal assistance from our on-line support center. Below is a summary of your request and our response.

If this issue is not resolved to your satisfaction, you may reopen it within the next 0 days.

Thank you for allowing us to be of service to you.

To access your question from our support site, click here.

Subject
The American Community Survey?
Discussion Thread
Response (ACSO – SLH) 10/28/2010 16:21
Thank you for using the US Census Bureau’s Question & Answer Center.  

We appreciate your feedback regarding the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. You make many valid points and in a world free of people too busy to respond we could easily get by with one mailing. As it is, our research has shown better response results from multiple mailings and reminder cards and for this program using multiple mailings to get someone to respond to the paper questionnaire is cheaper than obtaining the information by phone or personal visit.

As for the Internet response option we are in the development and testing phase for this application. The Director of the Census Bureau, Dr. Groves, supports this project not only for the ACS but also for the 2020 Census.

As for reducing the time burden on the American public, the director is dedicating resources to researching adminstrative/alternative sources for the information collected on the ACS and Census forms.

If you need more information or have further questions about the ACS, please call our Customer Services Center on 1 (800) 923-8282.

Question Reference #000000-000000
Escalation Level: 16 hours from created
Category Level 1: American Community Survey
Date Created: 10/20/2010 10:49
Last Updated: 10/28/2010 16:21
Status: Solved PII (Admin)
Cc:

[—000:000000:00000—]

– ☞⌨☜ –

Well, that was certainly bland, but at least they are looking to technological advances in the future.  I still see this statement as crazy: “…for this program using multiple mailings to get someone to respond to the paper questionnaire is cheaper than obtaining the information by phone or personal visit.”  I’d love to see that on paper.  (Or better yet, in an email.)