My Son’s Mystery Allergic Reaction Solved

Our family has learned, once again, never to let our guard down.

Living with multiple food allergies…vigilance is necessary at all times!

For instance, take last weekend…Easter weekend:

Saturday night, my husband barbecued the boys Pork Back Ribs, as per usual, on the right side of the barbecue with my Homemade Barbecue Sauce. Click here for the recipe. As my birthday was the next day, Easter Sunday, we had a Special Allergy Friendly Easter Dinner planned for us all to enjoy. Click here to view. As an early birthday night dinner, Andy prepared his famous Barbecued Marinated Seafood Kebabs with Peppers for the adults…my favourite dish! Due to the number of kebabs, he used the entire barbecue grill to cook them all. He left the barbecue on to burn off all the remaining bits of seafood. (my eldest son, Michael, has a seafood/fish allergy)

Sunday night, my husband barbecued a Marinated Boneless Leg of Lamb. We are not sure if Michael is allergic to lamb so I roasted a Chicken with Lemon, Garlic and Thyme for Michael and Matthew in the oven along with asparagus and potatoes. Once again, Andy ran the barbecue to burn off any residue of lamb/seafood that may be left.

Monday night, my husband barbecued Chicken Legs with Kraft Barbecue Sauce for the boys and then proceeded to barbecue Salmon Steaks for the adults. Within seconds of Michael taking a few bites of his chicken, he knew something was wrong. His mouth……..he took an antihistamine and we continued to watch him for any signs of further development of his symptoms. Luckily there were none and the tingling sensation stopped. The whole episode made him lose his appetite…that is until it was time to slice a piece of Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Carrot Cake with Dairy Free ‘Cream Cheese’ Icing! Click here for the recipe.

What could it have been? Running the barbecue to burn off leftover allergens has always worked in the past. My husband ran the barbecue twice after the seafood. He barbecued the lamb in the middle of the grill…could it have been the lamb? He barbecued the chicken legs on the right side. It couldn’t have been the Kraft Barbecue Sauce, as Michael has had that many times in the past. We were stumped!

The unsolved mystery of Michael’s allergy reaction bothered me all week!

On our way back from our Costco run this past Saturday, I broached the subject again with my husband. He felt quite positive that it could not have been any residual allergens on the barbecue…what then? The Kraft Barbecue Sauce?

Upon our arrival home, I pulled out the Kraft Barbecue Sauce from the refrigerator. The first thing I noticed was the new label. I looked over the ingredients…and there is was…mystery solved…mustard!

Michael ‘swore’ mustard was not in the older packaging of Kraft Barbecue Sauce. “That was the barbecue sauce I could have.”, he protested.

In September, Michael was skin tested positive for a mustard allergy. I had always suspected mustard, but was never 100% positive until the skin testing…this incident was the ‘proof in the pudding!’  Up until this episode, I think Michael didn’t really believe he had a mustard allergy.

Kraft Barbecue Sauce is something my husband usually buys as he loves it on his barbecued chicken. I don’t think we have barbecued anything since the summer with Kraft’s Barbecue Sauce for the boys as I usually baste all their meats with my homemade version.

You can bet my husband and I will be reading ingredient labels for all Michael’s food allergens including mustard from now on!

Luckily the outcome of this ‘accidental allergic reaction’ was positive. It was a safe reminder on how vigilant we must be about checking food ingredient labels on every purchase…manufacturer’s practices and ingredient lists can change without warning.

Be fair warned from our experience…buyer beware!

Needless to say, we stayed away from barbecuing this week!  It was with great relief that the boys’ Saturday Night Rib Night could continue without any fear that the barbecue was contaminated.

Barbecued Pork Back Ribs with Allergy Friendly Homemade Barbecue Sauce

Matthew even helped out with the barbecuing!

This past Sunday evening, my husband and the boys enjoyed a much safer, Mustard Free Barbecued Chicken Legs with Homemade Barbecue Sauce. Yummy!

Barbecued Chicken Legs with Homemade Barbecue Sauce

Sometimes, even the best of us mess up. My ‘Mother of the Year’ award could be in jeapordy!

Question: Have you experienced an accidental allergic reaction?  Please share your experience…I can’t possibly be the only one!

P.S. I just had to share my ‘smile of the day’: Yesterday, Matthew’s friend forgot to take home some jam and cheese strings that I bought and Matthew is not fond of…his friend, on the other hand, would be happy to bring them home…jam for his mom and cheese strings for himself. Needless to say, he forgot them. His friend came over the next day. So I reminded him, “Please remember to take home the jam and cheese today.”  What does he do? He proceeds to place his baseball cap on the floor. “There”, he says. “I will look at my hat on the floor and say, why have I left my hat on the floor? Oh yah! I need to remember to bring home the jam and cheese!” Too funny! I just love the way a child’s mind works! By the way…it kinda worked! I heard Matthew remind him as he came up the basement stairs.

P.P.S. Carla @ My 1/2 Dozen Daily is having another Giveaway: Mother’s Day Tote Bag and Wallet Giveaway! They are gorgeous! Click here for more information.

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12 thoughts on “My Son’s Mystery Allergic Reaction Solved

  1. Hi Susan, Just a quick note… our son is also allergic to mustard, and we are now beginning to see mustard appearing on labels instead of simply “spices”. As mustard is now a priority allergen in Canada, until October 2012, there is a phase-in period for mustard to appear on the label. I have called Heinz regarding the “mustard seeds” appearing on the label of their Chili sauce when it was not there before. Heinz has indicated there has not been a change to the recipe, but the requirement for labelling to include mustard is now being met. For some bizarre reason, our son had not reacted to Heinz chili sauce, but we are now reluctant to use it. We’ve also contacted President’s Choice regarding a product now indicating mustard, and they too, have indicated there has not been a recipe change, but they too are meeting the labelling requirement for mustard. As an aside, needless to say, we have contacted our sons allergist to find out why he has been able to eat these products. The allergist indicated that in our sons case, it may be a dosage issue and since mustard appears quite far down the list of ingredients, plus it is in a dried form, our son seems to be able to tolerate this small amount of mustard. He definitely cannot tolerate fresh mustard out of a bottle. P.S. I love reading your blog. I don’t respond often, but I look forward to your family updates, recipes and photos! Thank you.

    • Hi Julie! Thank you for all that information. Michael seems only now to be reacting to the mustard. Years ago, I would make my Lemon marinade for chicken with Djon mustard…Michael didn’t like it and complained it was ‘too lemony’. Yet, when I made it without mustard he loved it! So I just thought he didn’t like Dijon mustard as he didn’t mention any allergic tingling in the mouth at that time. Needless to say, I just avoided mustard in my recipes. We hardly purchase ready made sauces and dressings as I like to make them so mustard never was a problem. However, my husband loves prepared barbecue sauces. In a pinch, or if we were away, a prepared barbecue sauce comes in handy. Michael was fussy on the types of sauces he liked but what kid isn’t. As he wasn’t having any allergic reactions, I was not thinking food allergy. I think you are right about the dosage issue…adding dry mustard to our Daiya Mac and Cheese he definitely had a reaction and that is when I realized he must have an allergy to mustard. The skin test this September confirmed it. Michael last had Kraft Barbecue Sauce last summer…perhaps he has become more sensitive to mustard since that time. Mustard is definitely off the menu list from now on! We won’t be messing about with it any more. I am so glad to hear that you are enjoying my blog…I enjoy writing it…very cathartic! I love hearing back from my readers! Thanks again!

  2. From a different Julie…thanks for the informative post and being willing to share about them. Having a son with only a nut allergy (and not peanuts), I probably do get complacent about reading labels for certain items, assuming they would never have what we have to avoid. We had a close call recently when my brother and his wife came to town. We stopped at Whole Foods returning from the airport and we bought a lot of good eats including kale chips. We went to my parents’ and ate them as sitting around the table. I read the label on the kale chips and saw cashews of all things! We are fairly positive my son is strongly allergic to them as his skin test was off the charts even though his original reaction was pistachios (they are related). I warned everyone (son was not there at the time) but soon we all had a group “aha” that if my brother ate the chips and then dipped into the bowl of carrots, my son would likely get a dose of nut when he came over…he always eats carrots. So we put the chips away and had a “restricted” bowl of carrots all weekend to remind me especially that #1 My brother picked out something but it’s up to me to check it. #2 some things just can’t be around in a group situation #3 read every label especially in specialty type stores.
    I just have to say, your boys sound very sweet and humorous! Have a good week!

    • Hi Julie! Thank you for sharing your story! Often in a group setting with snacks about, I make sure my boys have a separate bowl of chips so there is no concern about any cross-contamination with the other snacks about. With food allergies, sometimes sharing is not such a good thing!

  3. Argh! Mustard! You are definitely not the only one. Our daughter hasn’t been tested for a mustard allergy, but it’s one that we identified from mystery reactions. The reactions were worse to yellow mustard from a bottle, but she also reacted to it as an ingredient in other food items. I really wish they labeled for it in the U.S., like they do in Canada!

    • Hi Selena! Very frustrating trying to figure out food allergies if ingredients are not fully disclosed. No one likes playing ‘Russian Roullette’! Hopefully the U.S. will follow closely on the heels of Canada’s new labelling law. Thanks for sharing your story!

  4. Oh Susan! 😦 I’m so glad he didn’t have a more serious reaction! I noticed the label of the Kraft BBQ had changed & now included mustard! My son can’t have certain spices, so that’s how I noticed. I can’t eat any food tats processed in any way (sulphites) so usually I’m ok, but I’ve been eating brown sugar here and there & apparently that’s a no-no! Ugh! I feel so stupid when I do these things to myself… *blush*

    • Hi Carla! What about Sucanat? It is made by crushing sugar cane for it’s juice. It has a natural molasses flavour. I read that cane sugar has a lower level of sulphites and may be tolerated better by those with sulphite sensitivities/allergies. Any other suggestions out there?

  5. Susan,

    So sorry to hear about the reaction that your son had. As a nutritionist, I hear these stories all the time and I truly believe that food companies have to take it more seriously. Your son is lucky he has such a great Mom who takes the time to cook things that he can enjoy. Great job!

  6. That still happens here from time to time too, and we just have one allergen to watch for. I bought the wrong kind of chocolate a couple of weeks ago. It was the same brand I always buy but a different type. We would have totally been in big trouble, if Max hadn’t noticed that the wrapper looked different and double checked. It’s good to be able to figure out a reaction when it does happen too. I’m glad you were able to pinpoint it at least. I’m glad it was relatively mild. Once again I’m hungry after reading your blog seeing your great photos.

    • Hi Jennifer! You have trained Max well! Living with food allergies is a new ‘lifestyle’ for us parents…but it is a ‘lifestyle’ our kids have grown up with…it’s all they know! Michael has quite keen ‘senses’ when it comes to detecting food allergens…very lucky indeed! I feel I am always in ‘training’…our ‘guard’ must always be on alert! No wonder food allergy parents are labeled ‘crazy’!

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