author of Feeding Eden

“Mommy What’s a Flavor Packet?”

We traveled to Naples, Florida last week and we had wonderfully safe time in terms of allergies -- until the very last night. We stayed in a small hotel called The Edgewater and had a suite with a kitchenette. (It was first time we stayed in a hotel with our children.) On the last night we had tired of eating every meal in the same two places (the small hotel restaurant and one Italian restaurant nearby) so we decided to try and branch out.

I called a well-reputed local Mexican joint and talked at length with the manager. No nuts, peanuts, soy or dairy in the rice and beans we planned to order for Eden. Fabulous. We arrived to a cheery place with good smells and baskets of crispy chips.
Most of my readers can guess how this story ended: Eden happily ate a few spoons of beans but two bites into his rice, he grabbbed my arm. "My throat feels too tight! Way too tight!"
I gave him Benadryl immediately and his throat felt better within a few minutes. But his jaw and face felt a little bit swollen in the aftermath. Later, I guessed aloud that the rice must have been flavored with some kind of spice packet; possible with a soy derivative.
None of us felt like eating, asking or lingering, so we left never knowing the cause of Eden's reaction. Lo and behold, a week later I got this alert from FAAN - The Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network:
"McCormick & Company Recalls Fajitas Seasoning Due to Undeclared Wheat and Milk Ingredients."
Now I'm not suggesting that Eden's rice was flavored with that packet, but the rice was lightly seasoned. The FAAN alert was an illustration of the Golden Food Allergy Rule: You can't ensure the safety of your food unless you've made it yourself.
Lo and behold, Eden has added a new detail when describing his allergies. Now, after listing his allergic foods he adds, "And I can't eat flavor packets!"