Thursday, June 19, 2008

and...I've got nothing

Not even a fiery blog post.

The soy yogurt folks called us back. No, there is no wheat, rye, barley, spelt, kiwi, egg, coconut, banana or flaxseed in the yogurt that the Toddles ate. No, they won't tell me what vegetable or fruit juices, natural flavors or glucose sources they use in the yogurt, though they will answer a specific, yes/no question. And no, they can't tell me about cross contamination from other yogurts that do have some of the allergens I'd listed. In other words, the chances that a known allergen caused this is now fairly low, and while cross-contamination could have caused the reaction, we'll never know. So, either it was cross-contamination or a new allergen. But which? The yogurt people politely and unemotionally declined to help.

So, we have nothing. No answers, no explanations. I remember a time when this would have had me raging, furious, but curiously I'm not angry. Mostly, I'm tired. I'm tired of allergies, of trying to defend my children without offending others. I'm only half successful at it, anyway, as a group of irked parents proved at the end of the school year. Oh, well. A few weeks ago, this cut into me badly, but now I can't be bothered letting the emotion touch me. Bah.

I think this is what they call 'resignation,' although it's odd to see it sitting so calmly in my psyche.

And the yogurt people? Well, I could be angry that they aren't telling me what I need to know to keep my child safe, but what for? They aren't here to keep my kid safe, they're more interested in turning a profit. So, the Toddles' safety is interesting to them only as a legal or PR issue. Given that they have no legal obligations to me here and the Toddles is fine, they don't need to play ball with me. So they tell me nothing more than they need to, and I'm left no wiser than before.

Can the allergists help us? The only idea they can offer is that the Toddles might have a rare, rare, rare allergy to blueberries. Typically, I can think through the child's eating habits and form an opinion, but I truly don't know. I can see how privileged we've been, where allergies are concerned. Many families are forced to wait months before seeing an allergist, and we've never done that. I've always had too much information at my fingertips, rather than passively waiting for answers from doctors. This lack of knowledge, of forward momentum feels odd.

I dislike this. If I weren't so body and spirit tired, I think I'd be scared and angry. But right now, I'm just going to do a final read-through, send off my article and go to sleep. With, mind you, a small and slightly itchy person curled next to me.

I might have a worrying bupkis where this latest allergy is concerned, but at least I'll have a by-line. And a chance to start in on that long, long list of things To Do.
In other news, these nice folks won the Ideablob monthly contest for a great business idea. I voted for them with enthusiasm, and you can read about the contest and how it works here.


jgfellow said...

Mark this momentus occasion: The toddles has anaphylaxed as many times as his brother.

An odd sort of milestone...

mama o' the matrices said...

Oh, that is odd. And sad. And kind of funny, in a sibling rivalry sort of way.

Julia said...

Oh, this sucks. I am sorry. You'd think they would think two steps ahead and realize that if one kid had this reaction many more might too. And some of those may not have parents as prepared as you are. Scary thought.
Congrats on sending the article off, though.

Anonymous said...

This doesn't help with any of the larger issues, but making your own soy yogurt should be relatively easy.

Anonymous said...

Terrible. The company should be bound and gagged until they fess up. But sometimes resignation can be a good thing for mommies - it lets you move on to a different place without the anger.

And man, it would suck *mightily* if one was allergic to blueberries.


Auntie A said...

May you all have a restful Shabbat! Sounds like you could use one big-time. (which is probably usually the case, only more so this week)

And congrats on having finished the article. Allow yourself to bask in the accomplishment before starting in on the rest of the To Do list...


mama o' the matrices said...

Anon., how would I make soy yogurt? That *would* solve a great deal. Most soy yogurts have not only flavorings, but these odd kosher markings saying that there's dairy somewhere, somehow. The soy yog folks print a little line underneath the kosher symbol, denying the dairy, and the whole thing leaves me annoyed. Who to believe? Sigh. (note: call a soy yog company and ask them why or how they're marked with the 'D' of shame. They can't tell you.)

Julia, thanks for the help with the article! I'm so glad to have it gone. And yes, the yog people are idiots. But they're idiots with proprietary ingredients, so somehow this makes it all okay. Um.

Aidel, yes. I love blueberries. Pectin in a fruit, tart and sweet - and they line the paths at Blue Hills, one of our favorite hiking spots. The kid might go and jam up the toilet, toss a month's worth of medical bills into the compost bin, but he'd better not be getting into the blueberry allergy thing. There are limits, dont'cha know.

Auntie A, *hug* Counting the days! said...

I feel your pain -- and I'm so sorry. I'm right there with you about allergy fatigue. It goes in waves, doesn't it?
A couple of unrelated thoughts.
1) I have heard that if your child has a reaction and you have the lot/serial number (which I know you do) -- FAAN can call on your behalf and you will get better results, having the yogurt tested in a laboratory to help determine what caused the reaction. Not sure whether you want to pursue -- but it is a thought.
2) When we first started trying yogurt, my daughter had *mild* reactions to all brands that were kosher dairy. When I inquired with the companies, I learned that these soy yogurts are grown on milk culture bases. But they claim that in the process of making yogurt -- the milk burns off. (Didn't make sense to me either.) Now the only brand I buy is WholeSoy & Co. which is actually labeled kosher pareve. I hope you can find it, your children like it, and it brings you luck. I likewise hope that you're not dealing with a blueberry allergy on top of all you have on your plate.

mama o' the matrices said...


I did think about the dairy - but mostly in relation to the Eldest, to whom we'll now avoid giving the kosher-DE, kosher-D yogs. Live and learn.

But it's a good idea, asking FAAN to call on my behalf. Any snippet of information that they can turn up might help...thanks for the tip!

mama o' the matrices said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

For soy yogurt, you need soy milk, sugar, and culture. So buy a safe unsweetened soy milk or make your own and add a sugar on which the culture can feed. The hardest part would be finding a safe culture; I would think many cultures would have originated at some point from dairy.

It would seem that such a product could contain no actual dairy and still be dairy, and not just by equipment, as far as kashrut is concerned. And even if there are no dairy ingredients purposely added, unavoidable dairy traces could of course be an issue for the highly allergic and it should certainly be acknowledged that the product may contain dairy.

A good company works to make needed information available, for good customer service and for the bottom line. The better companies find ways to keep their proprietary information private while still getting the necessary information to those who need it. Such companies prepare lots of information for their customer service departments and run trainings so that not only can questions be reliably answered but additional information can also be offered, all with care and understanding of the importance. A middleman approach can work in addressing issues of proprietary information; think of the companies that reveal their proprietary information to rabbis and hashgacha organizations. So, no, the company's behavior is not okay, proprietary information or not.

To make the yogurt, scald the soy milk, cool to 115 degrees, add the culture, and incubate until set. Incubation time for yogurt is usually six to ten hours, sometimes less. You can incubate with a yogurt maker, in a thermos, or in a glass jar kept warm through any number of methods. You might need to add an additional thickening agent when making soy yogurt.