New to board - 21-year-old daughter has reaction - pkg listed not nuts!

Posted on: Thu, 08/26/2004 - 1:40am
SoozieQ4JC's picture
Joined: 08/26/2004 - 09:00

This is my first post here and I'm so glad to find this group. I'm the mom of 3 grown daughters and my youngest, who is 21 and a senior in college, is allergic to peanuts. Her reactions haven't been life-threatening, for which we're very thankful, and because she's SO careful, she hasn't had many reactions at all. Her symptoms are itchy throat (but not swelling shut), no trouble breathing, but throwing up.

My question is - should I contact the company who made the cake? Can I ask them to pay the medical bills resulting from her reaction since the ingredients listed no peanuts? There IS an Allergan Statement that lists soy, cottonseed, wheat, eggs and milk. My daughter has never had a problem with any of these things. I really really don't want another allergic person to eat this cake and have a reaction! Especially since many people have much more serious reactions than my daughter has!

Here's my story:

A week ago, the night before going back to college for her senior year, we had a cake bought in Meijer in Illinois. It's a "Celebration Cake" made by Bill Knapp's (a restaurant chain in the Midwest). My oldest daughter, who bought the cake, read the ingredients carefully before buying it, and my allergic daughter Julie read them a couple times before eating it. She didn't react right away, so she ate the whole piece. Her throat felt "funny", but not really itchy. I told her to take Benedryl (we really didn't think there were peanuts in this b/c of the ingredient listing!), but she had lots to do to get ready to go back to school the next day and she didn't want to be sleepy. Then her stomach started hurting. She ended up throwing up - and we talked about her using her EpiPen. Trouble is - she also has Mitral Valve Prolapse and has some palpitations if she doesn't drink a lot of water each day. So we went to the ER since she wasn't having breathing trouble, to let them administer it in a medical environment.

They gave her a shot of benedryl, a shot of a steroid (kenelog sp?), and Pepcid! They give Pepcid for an allergy that affects the digestive system - I never knew that! Anyway, she recovered okay, but her throat felt just a little funny for a few days. The ER doc said to take Benedryl 3 times a day and 20mg Pepcid twice a day for 3 days. It was hard to get in the Benedryl because it makes her so tired and she had to drive once she got back to school!!

Thanks in advance for any advice!


Posted on: Thu, 08/26/2004 - 2:00am
Peg541's picture
Joined: 12/29/2002 - 09:00

Hi Susan and welcome,
My 19 year old son has an anaphylactic allergy to peanuts and is also allergic to soy, tree nuts, fish, milk, tomatoes and oats.
I believe they use pepcid because it is another H2 blocker ( not sure of the terminology ) but that helps stall a reaction as well. The pepcid also helps the GI irritation from the steroids.
We have also gotten orders for Benadryl every 6 hours after a reaction, steroids and Pepcid. We always do Benadryl for one or two days and then taper it off.
I would call the company. The cake was probably cross contaminated, my son had a BIG cross contamination reaction once.
Medical bills? Choose the hill you want to die on.
Get the company to inspect their processes although you might consider getting your daughter more allergy testing to see if any of the ingredients is a new allergen.
I would just pay the bills because I am conservative and want the company to cooperate with me but not on an adversarial basis. Be glad you all were alert and smart enough to act immediately.
Good luck, use my email in my profile if you need to talk.

Posted on: Thu, 08/26/2004 - 3:23am
SoozieQ4JC's picture
Joined: 08/26/2004 - 09:00

Dear Peggy,
Thanks SO much for the welcome and for your response! About the medical bills - no, that's not my main reason for contacting the company. I just really don't want anyone else to have an allergic reaction to this cake!
My daughter is student teaching 1st grade this semester. She told the teacher she's teaching with about her peanut allergy. She was very nice and concerned and wanted to know if she should tell the kids that they can't bring any PB to school. Julie says it's not a problem unless a whole bunch of kids eat PB in the classroom, which they wouldn't.
The rest of us in our house eat peanut butter - we're just very careful not to contaminate the strawberry jam (homemade! ) or anything else. Also, if we're eating PB, we sit on the other side of the table.
Talk to you again soon!

Posted on: Thu, 08/26/2004 - 6:03am
LaurensMom's picture
Joined: 05/23/2001 - 09:00

Actually, if you still have the cake, you can contact the FDA and they'll come pick it up for testing.
My friend did this twice for sesame - for for law suit protection but so that the company has to take accountability for it.

Posted on: Fri, 08/27/2004 - 5:11am
Faithfullyhis7's picture
Joined: 07/25/2004 - 09:00

Hi Susan,
Welcome to this site! I am an adult dx with Adult on-set PA at the age of 33. I am so sorry to hear about your daughters reaction. I too have only had mild reactions. The last exposure was to a peanut butter cookie that I ate only because My skin test came back neg allergy to peanut and my dr advised me that I didn't have a peanut allergy. I had a weird feeling in my throat actually it just felt numb about mid way down, never swelled! I too have Mitral Valve Prolapse was dx at age of 22 following motor vech accident. Hope your daughter is feeling better now. Here recently, I have tightened my comfort zone and will only eat homemade ice cream or Chapman's Philly Swirl, you can pull up their website to see what stores in your area carry them. they peanut/tree-nut free ice cream and made in a peanut/tn free facililty.........But look for the label on the box because not all their ice cream is peanut free. Also, I get my Chocolate and baking choc at vermont-nut! It is very tasty! Especially, the dark choc truffles! These are sweets that are on the safe side for now that she can try until she establishes her comfort level again! They have a yummy choc cake recipe on vermont along with some other very tasty treats from scratch. We have made the chewy choc cookies several times and if you eat one you will want several. I do eat out at some rest......I also call vendors to check their ingred list and some are very nice while others aren't!!!! People don't understand unless they have had to deal with a food allergy or know someone!!! Hope this helps you out!

Posted on: Fri, 08/27/2004 - 6:11am
Going Nuts's picture
Joined: 10/04/2001 - 09:00

SoozieQ4JC, your post is a good reminder to all of us that labelling for cross contamination is [b]voluntary[/b], and not seeing our trigger words on a label doesn't necessarily mean that a product is safe. Thanks for sharing your story.
I'm sorry this happened to your DD. I hope you'll keep posting, so we can hear about her experiences at college. Most of us have younger children, and are eager to hear about older kids' and adults' experiences.

Posted on: Fri, 08/27/2004 - 7:37am
MOT's picture
Joined: 01/22/2004 - 09:00

I would like to say that I reacted "mildly" as a child and teen, but I have had 3 or 4 very severe/life threatening reactions since then (in my 20's and 30's), so one must never assume that one's reaction will always be mild!

Posted on: Fri, 08/27/2004 - 9:16am
Peg541's picture
Joined: 12/29/2002 - 09:00

I have been holding onto this story for a long time, reluctant to voice it....
I have a friend who has an acquaintance with a 21 year old daughter who died in his arms from a peanut reaction.
She apparently did not react strongly but did not tell her parents she had some mild reactions in college. She was home for the weekend, had a reaction, seemingly mild and died in her fathers arms minutes later.
I have no knowledge if she had an epi pen or not. The thing her father told my friend was they always thought her reactions were minor and treated them as such.
So to me it IS important to know if she had/used an epi pen this time but it is equally important to know she had a few reactions that probably made her last reaction a BIG one.
Another lesson for us all, and for our kids.

Posted on: Fri, 08/27/2004 - 10:26am
SoozieQ4JC's picture
Joined: 08/26/2004 - 09:00

Thanks so much for all your replies! I talked to the bakery today that made the cake. They were VERY nice and VERY concerned. I told them I didn't want anyone else to have a reaction like my Julie did. They explained to me how they have no idea how the cake could have peanuts because they clean the whole huge bunch of machinery (can't remember what exactly the guy said) after each run of peanut products. Then an inspector comes in and even inspects the drains and the floor.
He was first concerned about my daughter and then he wanted to look into this. I didn't ask for reimbursement of medical expenses. He asked me to send him the cake (I should've called on Monday, but it's been a crazy week), so he gave me their FedEx acct number, and they picked it up a couple hours later. They want to analyze it. I had the flap of box with the nutrition info, but I didn't save the whole box, so they won't get the batch/lot number.
Another thing... I told him in the letter I put in with the cake that there was decorative frosting on the cake that my son-in-law used to write Happy Birthday. I'm sure that wouldn't have peanuts in it, but I guess they could check that too, esp if they find the cake to NOT contain peanuts! I'm just sure there were peanuts in there, though.
The cake had an Allergen Statement that it contains soy, eggs, wheat, milk, and cottonseed oil. Julie hasn't ever had a problem with any of these foods.
That's SUCH a sad story about the 21-year-old girl who died!! My oldest daughter has a close friend who is also allergic to peanuts and when she was in college she had a serious reaction that almost killed her. (the friend, not my daughter) This girl relied on her sense of SMELL to tell her if there were peanuts in something (stupid, I know). She had a cold and she smelled a Choc Chip cookie from Schlotzky's and it smelled fine, so she ate it. Back in her dorm, she started feeling bad, went in the bathroom, used her EpiPen, which either didn't work because the reaction was so bad, or it had expired. She felt embarrassed, but DID let her roommates know. She was having trouble breathing. They put her in the car and drove her to the hospital (which really was probably faster than calling 911 because they were only a couple blocks from the hospital). She was blue and her oxygen was in the 60's. Very very scary. Now she has a different kind of shot - something people who are allergic to bee stings use. But she still isn't all that careful...
My daughter knows about this other girl's reactions and she is very cautious. But it is scary out there! And she knows that even mild reactions are to be taken seriously and that they can get worse over time. I do feel better that she is in a college that has a hospital right in town (actually almost right on campus). Whenever we go on vacation, I always look in the yellow pages for the nearest hospital. Both for allergic reasons and the fact that I've had a serious broken ankle and Julie has had a broken hip (at age 14 - weird, huh? It was a rollerblading accident - she just fell down - she wasn't even going fast).
You gals are great!

Posted on: Fri, 08/27/2004 - 12:20pm
NutlessMOM's picture
Joined: 09/17/2003 - 09:00

I am sorry to hear about your daughter's reaction. I hope she is feeling much better now.
Two of my children are allergic to peanuts and one is also allergic to Soy. My DS is hypersensitive and has had several cross-contamination reactions. DS also had reactions to products that listed no peanuts or their by-products in the incredients. I would take the label to the allergist and have him look at the it. The allergist said that often "natural incredients" or "natural flavoring" could also mean peanuts. He told me if a product contained less than 2% of an incredient that the company did not have to list it. This was several years when he told me this. The allergist told me that they were lobbying to the FDA have this practice stopped. DOES ANYONE KNOW IF THIS IS STILL TRUE?

Posted on: Fri, 08/27/2004 - 1:01pm
ElleMo's picture
Joined: 06/19/2003 - 09:00

Quote:Originally posted by NutlessMOM:
[b] The allergist said that often "natural incredients" or "natural flavoring" could also mean peanuts. He told me if a product contained less than 2% of an incredient that the company did not have to list it. This was several years when he told me this. The allergist told me that they were lobbying to the FDA have this practice stopped. DOES ANYONE KNOW IF THIS IS STILL TRUE? [/b]
Yes, it takes effect in 2006.
For more info:
Allergic to Shellfish/ Mom to Jesse 9/01 who has PA

Peanut Free Store

More Articles

You already know that if you or your child has a peanut allergy you need to avoid peanut butter. Some...

There are many reasons why you may want to substitute almond flour for wheat flour in recipes. Of course, if you have a...

Are you looking for peanut-free candies as a special treat for a child with...

Do you have a child with peanut allergies and an upcoming birthday? Perhaps you'd like to bake a...

Most nut butters provide all the same benefits: an easy sandwich spread, a great dip for veggies, a fun addition to a smoothie. But not...