Thursday, August 8, 2013

SensitiviTees to Attend The Gluten & Allergen Free Expo in Secaucus, NJ in September

Please look for us wearing our Top-Selling Designs specifically for the Gluten-Free and Food Allergy Community!  Here's a sneak peek...

Adorable...right?  We told you so! Here's another one...

Looking forward to meeting you!  

See you at the Meadowlands on September 7 - 8 , 2013.

P.S. We are re-designing our website and we will be available to unveil it by the show!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013


The U.S. Food and Drug Administration estimates that 6% of children younger than 3 years old have some kind of food allergy; among the most common is peanut allergy. Peanuts are actually legumes (not nuts) that grow in the ground. However, the proteins in peanuts are similar to those in tree nuts so people who are allergic to peanuts could also be allergic to the nuts that grow on trees.

Tree nuts are the nuts of hard-shelled fruit and include almonds, walnuts, pistachios, macadamias, Brazil nuts, hickory nuts, pine nuts, pecans, and cashews. You should be tested for both types of allergies to determine if you need to avoid both groups.

The Allergic Response
Since the body erroneously identifies the proteins in peanuts or tree nuts as hostile invaders, it mounts an immune response by creating specific antibodies to those proteins. These antibodies trigger the release of certain chemicals into the body such as histamine. Allergic reactions differ from person to person, from mild to severe. Some people outgrow certain food allergies as they get older but for most people, peanut and tree nut allergies are for life.

Peanut reactions can be very severe, even with minimal exposure to peanut protein. In general, most reactions to food allergies last less than a day and may affect:
  1. Skin. Itchy, red, bumpy rashes (hives), eczema, or redness and swelling around the mouth or face.
  2. Gastrointestinal system. Belly cramps, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.
  3. Respiratory system. Runny or stuffy nose; itchy, watery eyes; sneezing to the triggering of asthma with coughing and wheezing. In severe cases, anaphylaxis may occur; this sudden, potentially life-threatening reaction causes airways to swell and blood pressure drop. The person may have trouble breathing and could lose consciousness.
  4. Cardiovascular system. Feeling lightheaded or faint, can lose consciousness.

How the Reactions are Triggered
Typically, an allergic reaction to nuts occurs through ingesting nuts or peanuts or products containing them, or from cross-contact from cooking/food prep—but it could occur from breathing in airborne particles or handling them. Therefore, keep the offenders out of your home and ask questions before visiting or dining at other people’s homes.

The obvious sources for peanuts and tree nuts is peanut butter and nut butters extracts, and flours, but you might be surprised to discover nuts used in a wide range of other products as thickeners, emollients, and flavoring agents: baked goods, candy, frozen desserts, cereals, soups and chili, breads, meatless burgers, sauces (such as pesto and mole), and salad dressings, plus shampoos and soaps.

KidsHealth ( has a great instruction sheet regarding peanut/nut allergic reactions:

Taking Precautions
·         Read every label and if you have any questions, call the manufacturer to confirm the presence of absence of any nuts in the manufacturing plant or process. Check the ingredient lists of international foods which use nuts extensively in their recipes.

All packaged food products sold in the U.S. that have tree nuts as an ingredient must list the specific tree nut on the label. Some manufacturers use advisory labels (“May contain …”) but this is voluntary and without specific guidelines. However, the FDA—which just announced regulations for labeling gluten-free packaged goods—is said to be developing a long-term strategy to help manufacturers use these statements clearly and consistently; that way, consumers can be informed about the potential presence of the eight major allergens (peanuts, tree nuts, soybeans, milk, wheat, shellfish, eggs, fish). 

·         Avoid them all? Food Allergy Research & Education notes that someone who is allergic to one type of tree nut has a higher chance of being allergic to other types; therefore, many experts advise patients with a tree nut allergy to avoid all nuts. Individuals may be advised to also avoid peanuts (and vice versa) because of the higher likelihood of cross-contact with tree nuts during manufacturing and processing. 

·         Talk to school/camp. Schools and camps are well aware of the dangers of nut allergies and the concerns parents have for their children’s well-being. Separate dining tables or instructions to other parents about what is allowed for lunch or snack are often offered. However, we recommend you speak with your school administrator and school nurse about steps to create a safe, allergen-free environment for your child.

·         Carry medication. As we noted in last month’s post about wheat allergy, many families carry injectable epinephrine for emergencies away from home. For people with milder reactions, an oral antihistamine might be all you need. Consult your doctor!

As with any food allergy, your best course of action is to research and become as well-informed as possible. Be sure to let others know about your child’s allergy to avoid any unpleasant situations or upsets. 

Monday, August 5, 2013

The FDA Creates Standard Regulation for Gluten-Free Foods

On August 2, 2013, the Food and Drug Administration made history for those with celiac and gluten sensitivities by finalizing (at last!) a standard definition of what constitutes “gluten-free.” This means that food labeled as gluten-free must now adhere to a uniform standard in the U.S. The standard also applies to foods labeled "without gluten," "free of gluten," and "no gluten."

The new regulations state that a food must contain less than 20 parts per million (ppm) of gluten in order to bear a “gluten-free” label. This is the lowest level most people with celiac disease can tolerate in foods, and researchers support this threshold as safe for those with celiac and other gluten-related disorders to consume. 20 ppm is also the lowest level that can be consistently detected in foods using valid scientific analytical tools.

This threshold is in line with what is accepted overseas; Europe has been ahead of us on this issue for a long time.

Why is this so historic?
First of all, it’s a long time in the making. The FDA first proposed the standard in 2007 in response to a 2004 law on food-allergen labeling that required a definition of gluten-free.

Second, until now, the term “gluten-free” had no clear definition in the food production field. Consumers have had to trust that companies where being truthful, honorable, and adhering to production practices that did not cause cross-contamination.

Having a published federal regulation and guideline will help people with celiac disease, wheat allergy, or those who choose gluten-free diets for other reasons.

More about the FDA Standard
The FDA’s web page about this regulation states that:

In addition to limiting the unavoidable presence of gluten to less than 20 ppm, FDA will allow manufacturers to label a food "gluten-free" if the food does not contain any of the following:
  1. an ingredient that is any type of wheat, rye, barley, or crossbreeds of these grains
  2. an ingredient derived from these grains and that has not been processed to remove gluten
  3. an ingredient derived from these grains and that has been processed to remove gluten, if it results in the food containing 20 or more parts per million (ppm) gluten

With a clear and enforceable standard in place, consumers now have more certainty about how food producers label their products and people will celiac disease are assured that gluten-free brands meet the FDA requirements.

The regulation will be published on August 5 and manufacturers have one year to comply and ensure that all relevant food packaging (and the actual food in those boxes and cans) meets the published criteria set by the FDA.

There are more details about this important ruling on the website of the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness and the organization will be posting a fact sheet that outlines the new regulations at The organization is also planning a free webinar about the FDA’s rule; see NFCA’s Webinar Schedule.