Nutrition with food allergies and sensitivities

While our son has the majority of the allergies and food sensitivities, we are still nursing him and thus his mother also has to stay away from the many of the same foods. I have no food restrictions, but we plan and cook our meals as a family and we want the food at our table to be all-inclusive. Thus in the interest of creating a safe food space for our son, we’ve decided to restrict our foods within the home such that all (or almost all) of the food we eat is safe and healthy for everyone to eat.

With the food restrictions, we have constantly been concerned with nutrition – how do we ensure that we are all getting a nutritious diet? One guidance document is Canada’s Food Guide published by Health Canada.

Overall the guide seems to be quite reasonable – focus on vegetables, fruit and grain products, some milk and alternatives, and some meat. Limit your oils and fats. However, looking at the page on serving size examples, a lot of it is restricted for us. What I see is illustrated below.

GFAF Canada Food Guide Suggested Foods Serving Restricted

I know that this figure is an example of serving size, and not an example of the foods that are possible in that category. But when I look at that, I see limitations and not possibilities, and it’s very disheartening. What I want to find are possibilities for new or different recipes and foods that we may enjoy, and be healthful.

For example, Dairy and Alternatives is a category unto itself in Canada’s Food Guide; however, with our restriction on soy and milk, what can we do? I think calcium and vitamin D are the main nutrients being promoted with dairy, but how can we get that otherwise? What about grain? Our diet is mainly rice since bulgur and quinoa is difficult to source without contamination.

Over the next few weeks, I hope to explore this more and try to answer some questions we have about nutrition and health in light of our food restrictions. I will also look into food guides around the world to see what they have to say about it.

Cheese is made of wood?

Lydia Mulvany for Bloomberg – The Parmesan Cheese You Sprinkle on Your Penne Could Be Wood:

According to the FDA’s report on Castle, obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, “no parmesan cheese was used to manufacture” the Market Pantry brand 100% grated Parmesan Cheese, sold at Target Corp. stores, and Always Save Grated Parmesan Cheese and Best Choice 100% Grated Parmesan Cheese, sold by Associated Wholesale Grocers Inc., which along with its subsidiaries supplies 3,400 retail stores in 30 states. Instead, there was a mixture of Swiss, mozzarella, white cheddar and cellulose, according to the FDA.

NO PARMESAN CHEESE was in their product labelled 100% Grated Parmesan Cheese!

“Wood” or cellulose is a safe additive, used to keep the shredded/grated cheese from sticking to itself and clumping up.

Cellulose is a safe additive, and an acceptable level is 2 percent to 4 percent, according to Dean Sommer, a cheese technologist at the Center for Dairy Research in Madison, Wisconsin.

Mislabeling of food products is a huge issue for those who have food allergies.

The FDA warning letter to Castle Cheese also discusses other previous violations

We acknowledge that on November 14, 2012, as stated in your December 21, 2012 response letter, your firm ceased production in the areas of the plant where Listeria had previously been detected, instituted measures to seal the room, and established a protocol for entry, exit, and working in the production room. Additionally, we acknowledge that (b)(4) environmental swabs were collected from the floor surface in the cook room on November 14, 2012, and sent to (b)(4) for microbiological analysis of Listeria species, and that those results were negative. Your response also states that on December 14, 2012, the food contact surfaces for (b)(4) were swabbed and found negative for Coliform, E.coli, Staph, Listeria, as well as yeast and mold. However, your response fails to identify what type of testing was used to determine these negative analytical results.

The FDA and Castle have resolved the violations, as confirmed in a close out letter dated April 18, 2014.