Birthday party---what would you do?

Posted on: Thu, 04/19/2007 - 5:00am
Carefulmom's picture
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Dd is turning 12 soon and is allergic to milk and peanuts, also avoiding tree nuts. She is having a pool party at a local swim school (we did the same thing last year and I had a thread in Off Topic) with about 20-25 girls all in 6th grade. Party is in 10 days. Last year because we cannot do the typical pizza which everyone does here, I had a lady at a local restaurant cater it. It is one of the very few restaurants that dd can eat at due to the milk allergy. The lady is very allergy aware. We only eat there when she is there. She owns a vegan bakery and has made lots of stuff for dd. Last year she made spaghetti and meatballs and fruit salad for dd`s party. It was a huge hit, did not cost much, and saved me the inconvenience of making food for 25 people and transporting it to the swim school. So last year we figured we would do the same thing this year. As it turns out the lady is pregnant due around the same time as dd`s birthday. I found this out a month ago when I wanted to book her for dd`s party. We ended up speaking with the owner of the restaurant, the owner has a catering company. She was not familiar with my dd, but said she could work around the allergies. I gave her a deposit 13 days ago and said I need a list of ingredients (milk being likely in spaghetti). She emailed me an invoice with an exact total to be paid at the party. I emailed back 10 days ago, price is fine, but I need an ingredient list. Never heard from her. I emailed her again two nights ago saying the party is a week and a half away and I need an ingredient list, in case changes need to be made. Still have not heard back. Last year the lady who catered it emailed me an ingredient list several weeks in advance. The lady who is doing it this year is the boss of last year`s lady (the pregnant one). The lady from last year was very familiar with dd`s allergies and on several occasions made special desserts for dd when we would eat at this restaurant. The owner who I am dealing with now is not even the one who will be cooking the food for the party. I don`t even know who that person will be.

So the party is ten days away, I have no ingredient list, and yesterday I opened the phone book, made some calls and talked to a caterer who said he has a child of his own, and completely understands my need for an ingredient list. I am thinking of canceling the lady (although I would lose my deposit) and hiring the second guy, the guy from yesterday.

Am I being too impatient? Is it reasonable to expect an ingredient list by now? I know that most on here probably don`t cater their birthday parties, but believe me, if your child is MFA, it is just so much easier, especially if the party is not at your house. It is just spaghetti, meatballs, and fruit salad.

So....what should I do, cancel the lady, lose the deposit, and book the second guy or give the lady I booked more time to get me an ingredient list? I must say that since I do have a home business, I cannot imagine receiving an email from a client and not responding the same day. To me, that is just good business. She has not even bothered to respond, not even to say that she will have an ingredient list in a few days. I am sure I am using the right email address, because she emailed me the invoice and I hit "reply". If there is no ingredient list by the time we have the party, I could not possibly let dd eat the food. I have a feeling that this lady being the owner of a catering company thinks it is good enough to just tell me there is no milk or peanuts in the food, but that is totally out of my comfort zone without an ingredient list.

[This message has been edited by Carefulmom (edited April 19, 2007).]

Posted on: Thu, 04/19/2007 - 5:15am
chanda4's picture
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What a mess, so sorry about dealing with that. I too hate when people don't reply...if they don't have the answer, reply and tell me you need a day or two, I don't care, but don't ignore the whole email!!
This may be a stupid question, but if I had to cater food to one of my kids party-whatever...I always thought a party sub from subway would be safe....is it not?? I let my milk allergic child eat a 6in on white, turkey....(no cheese, no mayo etc...) he gets a little lettuce and pickles! Is that just crazy of me to assume??
anyways, I would probably send one last email saying if I don't hear from you TODAY, cancel our order...or can you call maybe? Maybe something is wrong witht he computer, I don't know(searching for excuses)....then if you don't hear back, go with the other guy.
Parties are so stressful, especially involving food. I have in the past just held the party during *off* hours, to avoid the whole *feeding* issue. Kind of crappy of me I know, but parties at like 2 work well(after lunch, before dinner!)...anyways, sorry not much help here, hope it works out though!! Good luck!
------------------
Chanda(mother of 4)
Sidney-8 (beef and chocolate, grasses, molds, weeds, guinea pig & asthma)
Jake-6 (peanut, all tree nuts, eggs, trees, grasses, weeds, molds, cats, dogs, guinea pig & eczema & asthma)
Carson-3 1/2 (milk, soy, egg, beef and pork, cats, dog, guinea pig and EE)
Savannah-1 (milk and egg)
[This message has been edited by chanda4 (edited April 19, 2007).]

Posted on: Thu, 04/19/2007 - 5:42am
Corvallis Mom's picture
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Joined: 05/22/2001 - 09:00

Ouch. Well, I guess 'advice' is pretty hard to give for these situations, huh?
Go with your gut. (Which is what I know you'll do in the end.) [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]
I think that your gut is telling you that this person you are dealing with isn't treating your concerns with sufficient respect, which is obviously annoying enough, but it also implies that you are irrationally concerned-- which is NOT the case. If he/she thinks your level of concern is irrational, then will the food be prepared to the level of safety that your child requires?
What a mess is right. I just wish people would be honest with me when I ask things of them. I don't want 'I think so' when the answer is really, "Ummmmmm, let me try."

Posted on: Thu, 04/19/2007 - 5:52am
saknjmom's picture
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Hi, can you stop in to see the lady? I find it to be completely RUDE when you have a customer who has given a deposit and has questions and a simple reply is not attempted.
I would probably cancel her, go with the other guy and request that your deposit is returned from the first one.
I get bad feelings when we're talking about something this important and the person you're trusting to make it happen doesn't seem worried or responsible.
Also, Chanda, I am not big on Subway. I keep hearing about trays being shared etc. Somewhere I just saw a reply from someone who used to own two stores and said they wouldn't give their pa kid anything except cookie dough they took home and baked. It was the thread "is this a reaction or rash" in Main Discussion board.
[This message has been edited by saknjmom (edited April 19, 2007).]

Posted on: Thu, 04/19/2007 - 6:21am
Carefulmom's picture
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Well, what a surprise, she emailed me a few minutes ago. Almost like she had ESP or something. She did email an ingredient list, but one of the ingredients in the meatballs is "vegan breadcrumbs". Clearly that doesn`t tell me what is in the meatballs. I don`t think she has much experience with allergies or she would know that an ingredient list means telling me what is in the vegan breadcrumbs. Other than that the ingredients all look fine. Now I have emailed her back asking for the ingredients in the vegan breadcrumbs, hopefully no nut flours or anything like that, but you never know.
About Subway, since most bread has milk, I would not even consider using them. I imagine that it would be hard to find the ingredients in their bread, plus at a birthday party I think Subways without cheese would be like something is missing. And I find their food to be kind of gross, sorry, just my taste. I would not know what is in the sauces they use, and would worry about milk there also. Yes, it is easier not to have to stress out over the food.
Saknjmom, I thought about dropping by there, but figured it would be a waste of time as when I did not hear from her I figured she did not have the ingredient list. Now I just need to hear what is in the vegan bread crumbs. Hope I don`t have to wait several days to hear back.

Posted on: Thu, 04/19/2007 - 9:07am
gvmom's picture
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Carefulmom, I'm glad you heard back. I would hope that she could get back to you about the breadcrumbs quickly -- or at least give you a brand so you could look.
BTW, one note about Subway -- wasn't that the place that the one girl ended up going into anaphylaxis from? I could be wrong, but I feel like that was the place that 12 year old ate at and then collapsed at the mall, later dying.
Does anyone know what story I'm talking about? I'll have to check.

Posted on: Thu, 04/19/2007 - 9:13am
Carefulmom's picture
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I have not heard back about the bread crumbs and I am starting to get concerned again. I don`t want to be left hanging until the last minute on the bread crumbs. At what point should I cancel her if I have not heard back on the bread crumbs? I can see where she may feel she is accomodating me by getting me the ingredients on almost everything, but almost everything isn`t good enough. If I don`t know the ingredients in the bread crumbs, dd can`t have the meatballs, and I am definitely not going to have food at this party that dd cannot have. How much longer should I give her? I am getting way too stressed out over this.
By the way Chanda, in the past, I also avoided a meal. However, last year and this year since it is a pool party I figure snacks are not enough. The kids are going to get hungry. Party is from 1:30 to 4:00 and last year they ate a lot.
Gvmom, I am not sure if it was Subway or not.
[This message has been edited by Carefulmom (edited April 19, 2007).]

Posted on: Thu, 04/19/2007 - 10:28am
gvmom's picture
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Emily Vonder Meulen
[url="http://www.allergykids.com/News/Stories/EmilyParentsStory.pdf"]http://www.allergykids.com/News/Stories/EmilyParentsStory.pdf[/url]
That was what I was thinking of.
Anyway.
Couldn't you email this lady and say you need to have the ingredients for the bread crumbs within a certain time period - because if you have to make other food arrangements you need to know?
And if all else fails, though I know it would be a bit of a hassle, you could make the food. What you have for food could be made a day ahead. I know it would be preferable to have it catered, but to just keep in the back of your mind that it is possible to do it yourself just in case. It might take a bit of that pressured feeling off of you.

Posted on: Thu, 04/19/2007 - 11:48am
chanda4's picture
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Joined: 12/14/2006 - 09:00

I remember that story too, it never did say other then a deli. Subway is not my fav, personally, but my kids do love it. I have read their white bread ingredients, no milk or egg...so I stick with the same sandwich for my kids(no sauces, condiments or cheese) which they are fine with. But I know, this all comes down to comfort level, understandable. I hope the gal gets back to you about bread crumbs, it could contain milk(or anything really), if it's just bread crumbs...the ingredients could be anything at this point. And I do agree, swimming causes kids to eat, lol!!! Our last party was a 2 hour skating party, snacks were plenty! Good luck, the party will be here before you know it!!! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]
------------------
Chanda(mother of 4)
Sidney-8 (beef and chocolate, grasses, molds, weeds, guinea pig & asthma)
Jake-6 (peanut, all tree nuts, eggs, trees, grasses, weeds, molds, cats, dogs, guinea pig & eczema & asthma)
Carson-3 1/2 (milk, soy, egg, beef and pork, cats, dog, guinea pig and EE)
Savannah-1 (milk and egg)

Posted on: Thu, 04/19/2007 - 11:53am
lj's picture
lj
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Joined: 01/26/2006 - 09:00

Yes, I would make the food as well. I think it may be easier. I would not feel comfortable at all with what you've been dealing with.
You could always keep sauce (or even spaghetti) warm in a crock pot if you were worried about heating it up. Borrow a few if you need a large qty.
Or, maybe you could do tacos (w/out cheese or soy cheese), fruit kebobs (easy to carry around) and some type of dessert.
Just thoughts...

Posted on: Thu, 04/19/2007 - 2:02pm
McCobbre's picture
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Joined: 04/16/2005 - 09:00

Carefulmom--I don't really have any wisdom--except to let the original caterer know you have a deadline or you'll need to make other arrangements.
The kid birthday parties we used to attend in Dallas were typically catered, and I get that it really is easier, as long as your standards can be met, not to have to worry about this detail the day of the party. You'll have enough other things to worry about.
If she can comply with the breadcrumbs by, say, Saturday, would that give you enough time to prepare? And if she doesn't come through, maybe you could rent some chafing dishes Friday for the occasion (to keep the food hot)?
I know it's a lot, but you're right: kids get hungry swimming.
And look at it this way: at least you an go to that thread for all the games--you don't have to do that again! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]
I wish you luck.

Posted on: Fri, 04/20/2007 - 12:01am
Carefulmom's picture
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Well, I heard back. The only ingredient on the breadcrumbs that is questionable is "sour culture". Anyone know what that is? I have seen lactic acid starter culture in bread and that can be milk, but I have never seen sour culture on an ingredient list. It is supposed to be vegan bread, so sour culture is probably not milk, but I have to be sure.
The chaffers is the main reason I want it catered. Taking all the food, paper goods, chaffers and pool toys to a public pool, plus the cake is really a pain with no one to help. Too much for just me. It is easier to just have it catered. And I could not do it without chaffers, the food would get cold. Last year the kids all ate just whenever they were hungry, so it was anytime during the party. It wasns`t like the food was served at a set time. And the time involved to cook for 25, it is so much easier not to have to do that, we are already baking the cake and decorating it.
So, does anyone know what "sour culture" is?
[This message has been edited by Carefulmom (edited April 20, 2007).]

Posted on: Fri, 04/20/2007 - 12:26am
McCobbre's picture
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Sourdough starter (B): also known as "starter culture", "sourdough culture" or "sour culture". It is usually made with a mixture of flour and water inhabited by yeast and lactobacteria containing no animal ingredients. [b]Sometimes yogurt is used in the starter.[/b] Bread made from a sourdough culture is called sourdough bread
From this website:
[url="http://www.veganpeace.org/ingredients/ingredients.htm#S"]http://www.veganpeace.org/ingredients/ingredients.htm#S[/url]
Okay--if this is a vegan caterer--truly vegan--then it wouldn't be derived from yogurt. So ask her.
[This message has been edited by McCobbre (edited April 20, 2007).]

Posted on: Fri, 04/20/2007 - 1:04am
Carefulmom's picture
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This is exactly what she emailed me yesterday when I asked for the ingredients in the vegan bread crumbs (which are made from "vegan rustic rolls"). I have copied and pasted:
"rustic ingredients
unbleached flour, water, sour culture-extra virgin olive oil, salt, yeast, wheat germ."
So I am not clear if the sour culture is made of extra virgin olive oil, salt, yeast, and wheat germ or if the sour culture is something different. Not to be picky, but usually on an ingredient statement if the sour culture is the extra virgin olive oil, salt, yeast, and wheat germ, it would look like this:
"sour culture (extra virgin olive oil, salt, yeast, and wheat germ)".
Right?

Posted on: Fri, 04/20/2007 - 1:13am
Carefulmom's picture
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I googled it and it looks like it usually has milk. I don`t want to look like I don`t trust her because if it is truly vegan it does not have milk. However, I cannot even count the number of times that I have insisted on ingredients in products labeled vegan and it turned out they did have milk. Here`s a sample email---how does it look?
"Hi ______,
Please email me by the end of the day today, the ingredients in the sour culture. I am not clear if the ingredients in the sour culture are extra virgin olive oil, salt, yeast, and wheat germ or if the sour culture is something different. Since sour culture is often made with yogurt or milk, I need to be sure and we are running out of time.
Thanks,
_______"

Posted on: Fri, 04/20/2007 - 1:17am
saknjmom's picture
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That sounds good. How very frustrating!!!! I do feel very grateful that we aren't dealing with milk allergy. Very tough....do you have a backup plan if this doesn't work out?

Posted on: Fri, 04/20/2007 - 2:23am
gvmom's picture
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Couldn't she just make the meatballs without the breadcrumbs? Just forget that ingredient all together?
My Mom used to make meatballs all the time, and she never used breadcrumbs. I've made them too without..... and without egg (my Mom used egg sometimes).

Posted on: Fri, 04/20/2007 - 3:38am
lj's picture
lj
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Joined: 01/26/2006 - 09:00

I've made sourdough starter from scratch and the recipe I used did contain milk. It basically has to ferment for several days at room temperature. You are right to have her specify the ingredients in it.
How about if you just ask to make the pasta and no meatballs?

Posted on: Fri, 04/20/2007 - 4:13am
McCobbre's picture
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Even if she made them w/o breadcrumbs, I would worry about xcontam.
Pasta w/o no meatballs. That's the ticket.

Posted on: Fri, 04/20/2007 - 4:21am
Carefulmom's picture
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Well, I heard back and the ingredients in the email that I posted above, it turns out are the ingredients in the sour culture. I`m not too worried about x-contamination, as we talked at length about this when I booked it. So I think it will actually be okay.

Posted on: Fri, 04/20/2007 - 4:36am
gvmom's picture
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I don't know if I'd worry about x-contamination in this case. Wouldn't the bread crumbs just be dumped out of a jar or container? I know the bread crumbs I buy at the store come out of one of those cardboard type cans with a seal and plastic lid. Even if they were out of one of those large plastic jugs, unless they are poured in the bowl, they will still be in the same kitchen that she'd trust if she didn't opt for the meatballs. It isn't like they fly all over like flour or sugar.
Also, since you are talking raw meat being mixed with stuff for ingredients, the prep bowl is going to be a clean one and washed with every use. Not the same sort of worry like a bakery where the mixer gets used without washing in between.
I'm actually trying to think about where x-contamination would be a worry, if she is trusting the kitchen in the first place? And, btw, I'm not asking to be cheeky, I'm asking because it seriously might be something I'm not even thinking of.

Posted on: Fri, 04/20/2007 - 6:05am
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maybe cross contamination where the breadcrumbs are originally made/processed?

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