Thursday, October 26, 2006

Dextrose in IV and Injection Fluid

I found a copy of the package insert for the 5% dextrose lactated ringer solution used in IVs. It's on the FDA website--incidentally, a great resource for finding things like that.

It reads:

Baxter Lactated Ringer’s and 5% Dextrose Injection, USP
in VIAFLEX Plastic Container

Solutions containing dextrose may be contraindicated in patients with known allergy to corn or corn product.

Allergic reactions or anaphylactoid symptoms such as localized or generalized urticaria and pruritus; periorbital, facial, and/or laryngeal edema, coughing, sneezing, and/or difficulty with breathing have been reported during administration of Lactated Ringer’s and 5% Dextrose Injection, USP. The reporting frequency of these signs and symptoms is higher in women during pregnancy.

Reactions which may occur because of the solution or the technique of administration include febrile response, infection at the site of injection, venous thrombosis or phlebitis extending from the site of injection, extravasation, and hypervolemia.

If an adverse reaction does occur, discontinue the infusion, evaluate the patient, institute appropriate therapeutic countermeasures, and save the remainder of the fluid for examination if deemed necessary.

I also found out that there is an alternative readily available. Plain saline solution without the dextrose can be substituted, and should be available anywhere.

I'm starting a binder right now with a copy of the package insert, relevant parts circled in red. I'll add other relevant information and a statement from Baby E's doctor. I think he'll be happy to give us something saying that she has severe allergies, including corn and soy, and needs to completely avoid anything containing these ingredients.

That way I can keep that binder with me or in a readily accessible place, available at all times. I don't want to end up in the emergency room some day arguing with some lunkhead about why Baby E can't have an IV with dextrose in it.

I'm thinking I should probably get some kind of medical alert bracelet or something for Baby E to wear, too, since an IV would be one of the first things placed in a real emergency.

There's no way I'm going to let a doctor mainline corn into my highly allergic baby's system. Not this mama.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Which Corn Derivative is used Where?

The Corn Refiners Association has published a little bragging pamphlet about the 1000's of Uses of Corn (and growing) which contains some really great information on which types of corn derivatives are being used in which products. Many products have multiple sources of corn.

For this publication, I'd like to thank the Corn Refiners Association for their honesty in reporting. I don't know where we'd be without them.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

How to Contact a Company

One of the hardest things about corn allergy is that nothing is safe. Because corn derivatives are often used as ingredients of ingredients, or as a part of the packaging process or even as a conveyer dressing, the consumer can not rely upon the package ingredients alone.

Before using a new product it is always a good idea to call the manufacturer and verify that it is corn free. However, simply asking if such and such contains corn is not enough. Most customer service reps are looking at the same ingredient list as you, and will in total innocence tell you that there is absolutely no corn when the list clearly states maltodextrin, citric acid, or even modified food starch. Even Doctors can look at a bottle of medicine and guarantee that there is no corn…until you point out the clearly labeled “Corn Starch” in the inactive ingredient list. (Warning, they hate it when you do that.)

You can contact most companies by either phone or e-mail. You can get contact information from packages, or do a web search from home. Many companies have their own websites.

Personally, I prefer to contact a food product manufacturer first by mail or e-mail. They seem to “get it” better if the full question is in writing.

Before contacting a manufacturer, find the list of ingredients for the product in question. Highlight the questionable ingredients. Then form your letter. My basic form letter reads something like this:

Dear (products)
I am so excited to discover your (product name)! I have a severe corn allergy, and need to know if it contains any corn derivatives. I’m particularly concerned that there may be corn derived ascorbic acid in the fruit concentrate, or an anticaking agent such as maltodextrin in the spices. I also need to verify that you don’t use corn starch or other corn derivatives in the packaging process or as a conveyer dressing, and that the plastic package has not been precoated with corn starch.

Thank you so much for your help! I’m sure you understand how difficult it is to live with this allergy, I’m looking forward to hearing to back from you!

Of course, you would replace the above with your own pertinent information. If a company responds that they have a strict allergen program in place and that the top 8 are clearly labeled, be aware that corn is NOT on the top 8. Most of those letters are form letters, and if a company uses them (without discussing corn in particular) then you need to either respond again, thanking them for their time and asking if specifically CORN is labeled, since it isn’t considered a top allergen by the FAAN or the FDA; or call them and ask for them to please contact their suppliers for verification that the food is truly corn free. Even if they seem to check it out, there is a chance that something will slip through. That’s just the way of life with a corn allergy. But if they seem to be blowing you off and put you on the defensive for trying to protect yourself or your family, please do not even bother trying the product. As limited as our diet is, if the company is not interested in giving you facts or protecting you, their customer, they aren’t worthy of your support. And their product is definitely NOT worth risking a reaction over.

My doctor claims that many drug companies have lists of the source of their ingredients, and I’ve had good luck calling drug companies. It helps if you can state your doctor’s recommendation, and that your doctor told you to call first. Occasionally a pharmaceutical representative will state that they will only give that information out to a physician. I counter with “Well, my doctor doesn’t have time to research this for me.” So far I find that pharmaceutical representatives do have better access to ingredient sourcing than large food companies, but not all the customer service representatives you reach will know how to access that information. So you may need to request a manager, or ask them to put you in touch with a person who *can* answer your questions.

Living with a corn allergy sometimes feels like you’re living with a ticking bomb. There is no way to protect yourself completely from exposure to corn. All you can really do is limit your risk of exposure, and hope that by making your environment as corn free as possible, you will be better able to handle an unintentional exposure.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Car accident may kill you. Airbags and corn.

Just when you need it most, your airbag may kill you, and not in the strange ways of wierd freak accidents. Due to a warning issued on Delphi - Avoiding Corn - Car Air bags, I decided to do a little research on airbags and corn allergy.

According to a science research info site: "Talcum powder or corn starch is used to line the inside of the air bag and is released from the air bag as it is opened."

Lovely! Now we have to choose between our safety and our health.

According to Pueblo Govt Information site: US Dept. of Transportation, there is a way to turn off your airbags.

This is definately a case of damned if you do and damned if you don't. I believe I may have to contact my dealership and see if they know with which "talc or corn starch" my airbags are packed.

I recommend that you all do the same. The last thing you need while in an accident is to have anaphylaxis and searching the wreckage for your epipen (or your child's epipen).

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Whole Foods - Corn Allergy consumer confidence lost

I have been slowly losing confidence in Whole Foods. First it was their insistance that their 365 sodas were corn-free, but aren't. Then this week, I found out they switched their corn-free 365 broth to another manufacturer which uses corn starch (clearly labled) in the product.

I was angry.

So when I called Whole Foods to talk about the broth change, I got to talk to someone in charge. Or at least in charge of the 365 products. I am bad with names, so I didn't get his.

After first discussing that the product had in fact switched manufacturers rather than a formula change (meaning the old labeled broth is safe), I complained about the new broth containing corn.

He seemed alarmed that someone had actually contracted a new broth with obvious corn in it. From what he'd said, I got the idea that he'd gotten a whole heap of trouble (and education in corn allergy) from the 365 soda debacle.

He also mentioned that their intention with the 365 sodas was to get the only (or at least the first) corn-free soda line in the market. They had been promised and assured that the citric acid was from fruits, by the manufacturer, which is why they selected that manufacturer. Then they got the angry letters from us corn-allergic people and found out the lies. He said the manufacturer then claimed that the citric acid couldn't cause problems since it was so processed it no longer contained corn. Then he said, but it obviously does. I, of course, started laughing, because its not just us that get that speil of nonsense. I informed him that we hear that all the time "after the fact" and it really causes us a lot of problems.

He assured me that the corn allergy was a big issue with Whole Foods. Said that they've been seeing a larger and larger demand for corn-free products and are working on adding corn to their list of allergens to watch for. He said it wasn't required by law, but that they're doing it by customer demand.

This conversation with him helped me get a little more confidence in Whole Foods. However, only time will tell if they live up to it.

I encourage you to write Whole Foods and voice your concerns over this issue and ask them to make corn-free foods a priority. Ask about corn-free products at your local Whole Foods. Let them know just how many us there really are.

Whole Foods contact form
Whole Foods store locator

**The new corn starched broth finally hit my Whole Foods' shelves this week (11/09/2006). I am not happy.

Monday, October 09, 2006

About Violets

Violets is the 28 y/o mother of 2. She began suffering from food allergies several years ago, misdiagnosed as "IBS" and "stress" in the beginning. Violets' corn allergy was discovered accidentally, during an elimination diet designed to treat her daughter's migraine headaches. She went on to be diagnosed with celiac disease, as well as several other food allergies. More at her personal blog.

She has been researching corn allergies as a patient and advocate for 3 years. Though not the only one with food allergies in the household, she appears to be the only one with a severe corn allergy.

When taking a break from allergy research and safe cooking, she enjoys scrapbooking and crochet.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Toys & Corn allergy, Warning

As Christmas time is coming up .. ok not for a while.. so don't panic. But if you're one of those, shop ahead of time to find the bargain types of shoppers..

Anyway, I thought it might be good to put a little warning here. Hopefully we'll have something more substantial with research in the future, but its best to know to watch out for this.

Delphi - Avoiding Corn: Polly Pockets has started several mothers putting together pieces of puzzling reactions and finding toys to be the culprit.

It is not really known yet, if it is the plastic of the toys (see our post Uses of Corn and Surviving Parenthood) or if the toys are being packaged using corn starch in the packaging.

Just a little heads up for now. Hopefully more to come later.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Simply Orange Juice - Might not be as pure as they claim

I contacted the Coca-Cola company to confirm corn-free status of their Simply Orange juices. This is what they say:

"Thank you for contacting The Coca-Cola Company. We appreciate the opportunity to respond to your question. All of the Simply Orange juices are made with 100% orange juice and do not contain corn. Additionally, Simply Limeade and Lemonade do not contain corn derived ingredients. We hope this helpful. Thank you for your interest in our brands.
Industry & Consumer Affairs The Coca-Cola Company" Another response can be found here.

"Thank you for contacting The Coca-Cola Company. The calcium that we use is man-made and not derived from corn. We hope this is helpful. Thanks
Industry & Consumer Affairs The Coca-Cola Company"

I tested the calcium enriched pulp-free. I got very sick, and even now 3 weeks later I'm still recovering. Another member of the Delphi site also tested Simply OJ (unenriched, original) with her corn-allergic child, and the child had an allergic reaction.

The original Simply Orange thread gives more of the full story: Simply Orange Juice

The "Simply" line of beverages may be listed as corn-free by the company, but human testing it didn't pass. Please use caution.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

About Purple_Kangaroo

Purple_Kangaroo is the mother of an infant with a severely sensitive corn allergy (as well as allergies to mold, soy and other legumes, and possibly a few other things such as nightshades).

After a year of dealing with a fussy, sleepless baby, the family finally took Baby E to an allergist. Identifying the corn allergy with a skin test and removing corn from their diet has made a huge difference.

Purple_Kangaroo also has an extensive personal and family history of food and environmental allergies. She has been researching and living with various allergies and intolerances for most of her life.

Her interests include creating delicious allergen-free meals, homeschooling her 3 children, writing and doing graphic design work, making arts and crafts, taking part in church and community activities, and lobbying for more awareness and better labeling to help people with food allergies.

Purple_Kangaroo also has a personal blog. For more about her family's history with food allergies, see her blog post here: Why I'm interested in allergies and corn avoidance

Corn is Global - World Markets for Corn

Since corn is so predominant in the US food supply, many of us have turned to imported goods to find corn-free foods. However, there are a few countries which should be watched for corn as well.

According to Iowa Corn, the top 10 biggest customers for US corn are: Japan, Mexico, South Korea, Taiwan, Egypt, Colombia, Algeria, Canada, Israel, and the Dominican Republic.

According to, the top 5 markets for US grain exports are: Japan, Mexico, Korea, Taiwan, and Egypt. (these 5 count for approx. 43% of the total 2005/2006 corn exports.)

And according to The New York Times, "Japan is by far the largest overseas market for American corn growers." It is used predominantly for brewing beer and making starch syrups.

Some other countries that grow their own corn supply and/or export corn as well:

Australia grows its own corn. Kellogg's, themselves, have 30,000 tons of whole Australian corn milled for use in its products, according to Kellogg's Australian website.

China also grows its own corn. An article by the USDA, mentions that China's halting exports of corn and may start to import. Their use of corn is up by a strong demand from the starch, syrup, and ethanol industries, according the Chicago Board of Trade.

Other growers of corn, are India (local & export), Brazil (local & export), Chile, Argentina, and others.

So make sure you watch your labels, and know all the names of corn. Just because its not made in the U.S. of Corn, doesn't necessarily mean its corn-free.

Introducing Von

Von, better known as simply V, is a 38 year old long-time allergy sufferer, currently residing in Austin, Texas. Von has spent most of her life battling allergies.

At age 4, Von began taking daily antihistamines. But her allergies just kept getting worse, and by age 31, she was on 5 daily allergy medications to keep her breathing. Over the years, other problems arose (or got worse so they were noticeable). Symptoms such as uncontrollable weight gain, migraines, dizziness, fatigue, requiring up to 12 hours of sleep a night, large cyst/boils, acne, infections, IBS, etc.

After nearly 15 years of battling to get any kind of diagnosis for her various health problems, she discovered by chance her allergy to corn, 3 yrs ago. During a two week trip to Norway, 90% of her symptoms disappeared. When she returned to the U.S.A, all her symptoms returned and she began investigating. The only major difference she could find was corn in the diet. Fueled by this discovery, she spent a year battling doctors to get medically diagnosed. Seeking help from the medical community, but not receiving any, Von took it on herself to research and educate herself and her doctors, learning many things the hard way. Skin-prick test positive to corn. RAST test negative. ELISA (Immunolabs) test positive IgE to corn.

Von has spent the last 6 yrs delving into a completely corn-free life and her long battle with health problems has ceased. Topping the scales 6 yrs ago at 295lbs (at the time gaining 25lbs a year), Von has lost 50lbs and is continuing to lose. After over 25 yrs of constant antihistamine use, Von is now completely off all allergy medications as well and breathing just fine.

Though corn is Von's primary food allergy concern, she also tested IgE positive to Milk, Eggs, White Bean, Penicillin.

Von also has her own personal blog: World of V