Imagine a scenario where it would be possible for you to make pancakes or bake cookies, muffins or even a birthday cake and safely serve it to your family, despite the fact that you and they suffer from various or multiple food allergies. Sound like a dream? Well, now that dream can be a reality for you and your family due to the hard work and determination of a food allergic mother of two, Tammie Sarra. Tammie is a certified nutritionist and the creator, president, chief product development officer and “guinea pig” for Allergic Solution, which develops, markets and distributes premium allergen-free baking mixes and food products to families with food allergies.
My Kid’s Food Allergies (MKFA) talked with Tammie about her experiences that lead to the genesis and development of Allergic Solution.
An Allergic Solution Is Born
While still in the corporate world, Tammie worked with many families who were dealing with Autism and had transitioned to a gluten- and casein-free diet. She noticed that many of her clients were gaining weight and began developing sensitivities to soy. Since Tammie had been gluten-free for 20 years, she was well aware that many pre-packaged gluten-free products come loaded with sugar and are derived from high glycemic foods like rice and potato, which could potentially lead to unintended weight gain. High glycemic foods tend to have a pronounced effect on blood sugar and insulin levels in the body. Eating high glycemic foods is not necessarily “bad,” but like anything else, eating too much of high glycemic foods could have a negative impact on your health. And if you or your child requires a gluten-free diet, eating prepackaged gluten-free products could result in over consuming high glycemic foods such as rice and potato.
Realizing the potential hazards that existing gluten-free products posed, Tammie wished to create a healthier alternative for families who required gluten-free products as part of their diets.
She started by mixing several types of flour made with a chickpea base to create a blend and giving small bags of the mixture to moms in her program with instructions on how to use it. The blend was such a hit; it was suggested Tammie make the blends widely available and sell them. Tammie told MKFA, “That is basically where Allergic Solution started, because I wanted people to have a solution for the problem of having multiple food allergies. I knew that I could combine my experience and food background to create products that were not only allergen-free, but also tasty.“ And with that, Allergic Solution was born and with it a line of several “premium allergen-free baking mixes and food products.”
Tammie has since left corporate life and now dedicates her time to the development of products at Allergic Solution. Additionally, Tammie works with Anaphylaxis Canada, which provides public education regarding allergies, information on product recalls due to allergen contamination and other public services. She works with the Snack Safely Guide as well. The Snack Safely Guide is a resource that lists products that are allergen-free and is provided for people with food allergies. Products are listed by specific allergy so consumers can identify which products are safe for their specific situations. “I can’t say enough about the Snack Safely Guide,” Tammie said. “[It’s] such a great resource for parents to be confident that what they are giving their kids is safe. You can find them at http://snacksafely.com/.”
You may also see the article Allergy Friendly Snacks for Kids: The Snack Safely Food Guide at MKFA for more information about the Snack Safely program.
Tammie told MKFA, “I started in my kitchen, which is just north of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, in 2010.” She started by developing the mixes and doing “a lot of baking!” One product, the Yeast Free Bread, took mixing and baking 96 loaves before Tammie was happy with the finished product.
Throughout the process, Tammie’s friends and family were her “guinea pigs,” sometimes unwittingly so. For instance, Tammie related one story in which her family and friends, who did not suffer from food allergies, had no idea the cake they were eating was made using her allergen-free All Purpose Flour Mix. “When I finally perfected the mix, I baked with it for three months without telling anyone it was gluten-free. My family was perplexed as to why I was not using gluten-free flour, and I had started baking all their tried and true favorites. It was at a dinner party I threw [when] one of my friends said, while eating a chocolate cake I had made, “Thank goodness you didn’t serve us that gluten free crap you usually make.” I was both hurt and excited because everyone enjoyed the cake and no one followed a gluten-free diet but [me]. I knew at that moment I had a winner on my hands.”
Since then, Allergic Solution has made many changes in packaging, product line, production and the development of an “allergen control program.” Two products were discontinued last spring, and the new All Purpose Flour Mix was introduced. Additionally, Allergic Solution has moved into a commercial kitchen space to allow for improved baking ability and the development of new products. Although the new space adds better functionality for the business, Tammie admits, “My favorite place is still my own kitchen using my two boys and husband as guinea pigs.”
Food Cross Contact Protocols
Allergic Solution is committed to preventing cross contamination or cross contact of allergens. This issue is currently a heated topic, as new labeling laws have shed light on how frequently allergen-free products are manufactured in places where foods containing allergens are also processed, opening the door to potential cross contact and rendering safe foods unsafe for allergy sufferers.
Tammie became aware of the issue when she had the flour she purchased sent off for testing against 19 different allergens, including all of the tree nuts and the presence of GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms), to ensure the flour mix would indeed be allergen-free. To Tammie’s surprise, the results came back positive for gluten at 1200PPM (parts per million) and hazelnut at 400 PPM. As of August 2014, per the FDA, prepackaged foods labeled “gluten free” may not contain more than 20PPM of unintentionally occurring gluten.
Tammie was so shocked; she traced the entire supply system and discovered that cross-contact could occur during production and in several other places along the way. As a result, Allergic Solution developed an allergen control program such that Tammie is “100% confident that nowhere in our supply chain could a cross contamination occur. I say we are free of the top 10 from farm to finished product.”
Allergic Solution now uses a co-packer that is free of the top 10 allergens and limits the use of corn, which is an issue for people with corn sensitivities and those avoiding GMOs.
Allergic Solution’s products consist of three baking mixes and an All Purpose Flour mix, which are free of the top 10 allergens, gluten and GMOs. The products are a Pancake and Waffle Mix, a Vanilla Cake Mix, a Yeast Free Bread Mix and an All Purpose Flour Mix.
Although each of the mixes are free of the top 10 allergens, the Pancake and Waffle Mix, the Vanilla Cake Mix and the All Purpose Flour Mix can be used with egg, milk and even nuts if the consumer has no allergy to those items. The beauty of these mixes is that they are adaptable for most food allergy situations.
The consumer favorite was the Pancake and Waffle Mix prior to the release of the All Purpose Flour Mix, which is quickly becoming the “crowd favorite.” In fact, several bakeries in Canada and the US are currently using the All Purpose Flour Mix to bake their delicious treats. Tammie also dubs the All Purpose Flour Mix her personal favorite, since it can easily be substituted “one for one” for regular all-purpose flour, except if the recipe calls for yeast.
Allergic Solution is working on a few new releases, including a “coating mix” used for meats and fish. The other innovations are being held close to the vest at the moment, while they are still in development.
Money Back Guarantee
Allergic Solution is sensitive to the issue of cost. Many foods required for various allergies and sensitives are very expensive. It can be costly to purchase an item only to later find it does not meet your needs or satisfy your palate. Because Tammie is a mother and suffers from food allergies, it was important to her to provide a money back guarantee for any Allergic Solution product you purchase in order to relieve some of the stress and risks related to cost.
The Allergic Solution promise is “If you buy one of our products and you make it and it doesn’t work out or you just don’t like it, give us a call. [We] will either replace it with another mix or refund your money,” regardless of where you bought it.
Customer feedback has been very positive. People seem most pleased about the ease of use, the flexibility of use and the resulting product. Many allergen-free products leave little to be desired in the way of taste and texture, but Allergic Solution does not seem to have those problems.
Tammie shared with MKFA a story from customer feedback that she found particularly moving, summarized below:
Shortly after we got our first listing in a major retailer, a mother with two children called me in tears. She said of the four people in her household, they had 15 different food allergies among them. She said her favorite thing to do with her mom was to bake, but she had never been able to do that with her kids because she could never find anything that would accommodate all of their food allergies, until she found our Vanilla Cake Mix and bought it. She had just finished baking the cake with her kids and sat down and ate it with the whole family. She said the whole time they were eating she was in disbelief how easy it was because mealtime was always so stressful for them. She was excited to think she could send cupcakes to school with the kids on their birthdays and know they could eat them and be safe.
Finding Allergic Solution Products
You can find all Allergic Solution products in their online store at http://www.allergicsolution.com/. Allergic Solution can also be found at many grocery and health food stores in Canada.
Allergic Solution is working with a distributor in the US to get into a few stores, but the process is a slow one. If you are interested in seeing Allergic Solution products in your local store, speak to the store manager and ask him or her to call Allergic Solution to get it stocked. When customers request products, the process is often moved along much faster.
In the meantime, you can find Allergic Solution products online. And thanks to a generous offer from Allergic Solutions, MFKA readers can order products from Allergic Solution and receive a 10 percent discount on all items!
Use the code MKFA10 to get 10 percent off whenever you order from the online store.