Busting Common Food Allergy Myths | Food Allergens in Non-Food Items
By Dr. Robert Wood
Food-allergic patients have to be aware of non-food items that contain allergens. These items should be handled with care, depending on what you or your child is allergic to:
Play dough and clay (any brand): Many of these products in stores contain wheat. Instead, make your own.
Paints: Paints may contain food ingredients that make them safe for most kids but dangerous for children with food allergies.
Adhesives: Many glues and other adhesives contain wheat, so if you have an allergy, steer clear of envelopes, stamps and stickers you have to lick before using. Instead, use self-adhesive envelopes and stamps.
Medications, vitamins and supplements: Although a particular medication, vitamin or supplement may not trigger a reaction, some of the ingredients used to manufacture the pill may include milk, wheat, soy and other allergens. Be sure to check both the active and inactive (or inert) ingredients.
Soaps: Certain soaps may contain soy, milk, nut oils and other ingredients you might never have imagined would be found there.
Shampoos and other hair care products: Shampoo, conditioner and some dyes may include soy protein, wheat or wheat extracts, almond and other nut oils, and additional allergens.
Hand and body lotions: Many lotions contain coconut, tree nut, sesame or Arachis (derived from peanut) oil. They may also contain "extracts" of grains, including wheat.
Makeup: Lipstick and other makeup may include wheat, sesame oil or other allergens.
Fruit and vegetable rinses: Many fruit and vegetable rinses contain starch, which could be made from wheat, potato, corn or rice.
Stuffed toys or chairs: The stuffing in bean bag chairs could include ground-up peanut or tree nut shells. Some stuffed animals that feel like bean bags can also include this type of stuffing.
Pet food: Food for dogs, cats, guinea pigs and other pets can contain wheat, peanut, egg, milk and a host of other ingredients that can trigger reactions.
Bird seed: In addition to the seeds, some mixes may contain peanut, wheat, milk and other allergens.
These items pose varying degrees of risk. Pet foods that contain allergens are obviously more risky if you have a toddler rather than a teenager with food allergies. The risk of a contact reaction from a beanbag chair that contains peanut is likely to be less than an ingestion reaction a child with wheat allergy may have by eating play dough or clay. However, the safest option is to purchase products that do not contain the food items you or your child is allergic to. It is also important to remind your child's teachers that no food items can be used in craft projects without your notification.