Over a year ago I was contacted by a certifying agency for food labels. They had been involved in lab testing for creating gluten-free certifications for food products and saw a huge opportunity in dairy-free certification. However, when I asked them about liability issues, they point blank stated, “that shouldn’t be a problem since milk doesn’t cause life-threatening reactions.” After hanging up the phone, I sent them Sabrina Shannon’s story, just one milk allergy tragedy among many, but the most publicized one. I never heard from them again.
But it wasn’t until a recent article that quoted a milk allergy mom that I thought to bring this story forth. A WebMD report on the need for better food allergy guidelines briefly introduced me to Matt Mitchell, a 20 year old college student who has had several close calls due to a lifelong milk allergy. Seven years ago, he spent Christmas in the ER after consuming dark chocolate that was made on equipment that was also used to process milk chocolate. Unfortunately, the ER visits haven’t come to an end for him either. His mother, Lynda, reported that just last month he had another incident due to trace amounts of milk. In the article, Lynda stated, “I call milk allergies the Rodney Dangerfield of food allergies. They don’t get the respect that peanut allergies get because most people confuse them with lactose intolerance. But just like peanuts or shellfish, a milk allergy can be life threatening.”
Thank you Lynda for sharing this story, it brings much needed attention to an important issue.
Sabrina’s story still brings me to tears. I feel fortunate that a trace or even a smear of dairy isn’t fatal for me, but I have lived through a handful of anaphylactic reactions and several ER visits from milk. Experiences I wouldn’t wish upon anyone. My work has also introduced me to countless moms who carry EpiPens specifically for their child’s life-threatening milk allergy.
Though I think it is important to never downplay a reaction to any food, whether mild or severe, intolerant or allergic, I do want the public to know that …
This message is brought to you in honor of Food Allergy Awareness Week.