Swiss Allergy Center: Summer and Fall Camp Programs for Children and Teens

aha! summer camp 2014

Site of the aha! camp program in Davos Klosters (Photo courtesy of aha!)

Are you looking for a summer or fall camp for your child with food allergies? If so, aha! Centre d’Allergie Suisse is once again hosting several camp programs for children ages 8 to 12 years and 13 to 16 years.

For several years, I attended a weekly summer camp in Minnesota, and I think programs like this create memories for a lifetime. Kids get the opportunity to make new friends and enjoy the outdoors, while learning how to be independent from their parents for a week (and now I see how it’s a nice break for parents too!). It’s great that aha! is sponsoring programs to make camp accessible for children and teens with allergic diseases, such as asthma, atopic dermatitis and food allergies.

Located in the Swiss Alps, these camps have staff trained to deal with food allergies, such as responding to severe reactions like anaphylaxis. Also, there’s a dietician to help plan safe and nutritious meals for those with food allergies and intolerances. With this support system in place, children and teens with allergic diseases get to have a wonderful camp experience, and parents have the comfort of knowing their children’s medical and dietary needs are being met.

Please see the table below for a quick overview of aha!’s various camps this summer and fall. For the first time this year, aha! will be offering a camp for French-speakers.

Camp d’enfants aha!

aha!kinderlager

aha!jugendcamp

Eligible ages 8-12 years 8-12 years 13-16 years
Language spoken French German German
Date Fall: Sunday, October 11 to Saturday, October 17, 2015 Summer: Sunday, July 19 to Saturday, July 25, 2015

Fall
: Sunday, October 4 to Saturday, October 10, 2015.
Summer: Sunday, July 26 to Saturday, August 1, 2015
Location Crans-Montana (Valais), elevation of 1500 meters Davos Klosters (Graubünden), elevation of 1100 meters Davos Klosters (Graubünden), elevation of 1100 meters
Cost* CHF 240 CHF 240 CHF 290

*For children and teens residing abroad, the cost will be CHF 350, if the individual is not covered by insurance in Switzerland.

For all of the camps listed above, the deadline for enrollment is four weeks prior to the start of the program. You can find the online registration form for each of these camps by clicking on the links provided above. If you have any questions, please contact aha! directly at 031 359 90 50 or info@aha.ch.

Tonight, my husband and I will attend aha!’s Benefizkonzert in Bern, which will raise funds for these camp programs. A big thank you to aha! for inviting me to this event. I’ll report back soon on this evening’s festivities, for a worthy cause!

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Oral Food Challenge for Baked Milk: Passed

Baked Milk Food Challenge

My son’s final doses of baked milk

“Milk in the batter! Milk in the batter! Stir it! Scrape it! Make it! Bake it!” – From In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak

On Thursday evening, I read In the Night Kitchen to my sons at bedtime. It’s one of my favorite children’s books. I hadn’t planned on it, but I when came across the brown-hued cover on the bookshelf, it seemed appropriate timing considering our plans for the morning—my son’s physician-supervised oral food challenge for baked milk.

This would mark his sixth food challenge, and I feel the same way every time—nervous, worried, happy and excited. After our unsuccessful attempt at baked milk back in July 2014, when my son refused to eat all the required doses of cake, we decided to try a new approach. This time, as recommended by his pediatric allergist, I modified the recipe and baked the cake at home.

I’m elated to report that my son “passed” the challenge with a negative result—no reaction whatsoever. This is huge. I baked Zopf with milk and butter for my family on Sunday, and we all ate it together. My hope is that every child with a milk allergy can get to this point. We feel so incredibly lucky once again.


Why is baked milk okay?

When milk is extensively heated (i.e., baked), the proteins change somehow so my son’s immune system no longer considers it an allergen. From the various articles I’ve seen and our own experience, the heating standard for food challenges with baked milk is generally 180 degrees Celsius (350 degrees Fahrenheit) for 30 minutes. One recent study estimates that the majority (75 percent) of children with cow’s milk allergy can tolerate eating baked milk products, like cake and bread. Another study has found that consuming baked milk products helps to increase children’s tolerance for drinking unheated cow’s milk.

Sources:

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Have you participated in a baked milk food challenge? What was your experience?  Please leave a comment below.

My son will have another milk-based challenge coming up this spring. More details soon… In the meantime, I’m making sure he has baked milk in some form every day until then. I’m thrilled to be baking with milk and butter again!

Thanks for your continued support and advice! I hope you’re getting some good news about food allergies too.

Updated: If you would like the recipe I used for the baked milk challenge, please send me an email for more information. February 2, 2015.

Swiss Allergy Label: A Special Certification for Allergen-Free Products

aha! label soy yogurt

When food products contain (or may contain) potential allergens, federal laws in Switzerland require that companies clearly disclose this information on food labels. In comparison, when a company wants to disclose that its products are free from these same allergens, Switzerland has a private certification process overseen by Service Allergie Suisse.

Over time, I’ve noticed this label on several food products we routinely purchase for my son and wanted to know more about it. Here are the questions I had about the Swiss Allergy Label and the answers I found, based on information obtained from the Service Allergie Suisse website and an email I received from this agency in August 2014.

Please note: The information shown below, particularly the number of certified products and the companies that produce them, is meant to provide a snapshot of this program at a particular period of time. For the most current information, you can visit the Service Allergie Suisse website or subscribe to its News Service.


When did the Swiss Allergy Label start?

The Swiss Allergy Label program was started in 2006 by Service Allergie Suisse, a private independent agency based in Bern.


What is the purpose of the Swiss Allergy Label?

The focus of Service Allergie Suisse is on “consumer goods and services that are produced, labeled and sold with particular consideration given to allergy and intolerance problems.”

According to the email I received from Service Allergie Suisse, three independent authorities evaluate every product being considered for this allergen-free certification. For food products in particular, companies must also demonstrate that they have systems in place for quality control and allergen management. Finally, there are regular re-audits to ensure ongoing compliance.


How many products have earned the Swiss Allergy Label?

On January 13, 2015, I found 173 products listed on the Service Allergie Suisse website, as shown below.

Table: Number of products with the Swiss Allergy Label by category

Product category Number of products
Food  84
Cosmetics  46
Textiles  24
Household appliances  8
Washing and cleaning agents  8
Technical products (e.g., air filters)  3
Medical products  0
Total  173

Source: Obtained from the Service Allergie Suisse website on January 13, 2015; http://www.service-allergie-suisse.ch/257/product-categories/?oid=1464&lang=en.


Which companies have products with the Swiss Allergy Label?

Currently, the 14 companies listed below have products that have earned the Swiss Allergy Label:

In terms of food products, the vast majority of these products are sold by Migros. Based on my search, it appears that Coop has fewer than 10 food products from its own “Free From” line that have been certified by Service Allergie Suisse.


What services have been certified with the Swiss Allergy Label?

In addition to certifying products, the Swiss Allergy Label can also be applied to services, including catering and gastronomy. At this time, two companies have been certified for such services: (1) Menu and More for catering and (2) Migros for gastronomy. Menu and More is active in catering meals for children and adolescents, according to the email I received from Service Allergie Suisse. Since October 2014, Migros has expanded it range of certified products, and you can find these products in dozens of its locations (click here for the complete list).

For more information about the requirements for restaurants to receive this certification, please review this summary document from Service Allergie Suisse.


Are you familiar with the Swiss Allergy Label? Do you have products in your home certified under this program? I’m interested in any feedback you may have about this program, so please leave a comment below if you have something to share. Many thanks!

Updated: January 15, 2015

Recipe: Swiss-French Red Cabbage Salad with Apples and Raisins

It’s that time of year again, when I try to serve more vegetables to my family after weeks and months of feasting on baked goods—and I’m usually the worst offender!

My latest plan involves trying to work vegetables into all three meals, and ideally in at least two dishes. For breakfast, that means scrambled eggs with spinach. At lunch or dinner, we’ll have a salad and steamed green beans with lemon, for example. With more and newer options, I’m hoping my kids’ interest increases so they actually like eating vegetables, instead of viewing them as a necessary evil.

After a recent Sunday walk, I tried out a new a new red cabbage salad recipe from a local Swiss-French cookbook. I served it as part of leisurely brunch during our last day of the holiday break. My husband, who usually HATES mayonnaise, liked this salad. Unprompted, my 7-year old said it tasted good after his first bite. My 3-year old gave it a thumbs up, but I think he really only liked (and ate) the raisins, to be perfectly honest. We’ll keep this cabbage salad in our mealtime rotation, and I’ll have to try another one I saw recently from Migros’ Saison.ch made with orange juice (here’s yet another salad recipe with cabbage, orange and fennel that also looks good).

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Sunday walk on Mount Vully


Salade de Chou Rouge (Red Cabbage Salad)

Recipe adapted from Recettes du terroir neuchâtelois by Francis Grandjean (2002).

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free)

Serves 6-8

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Salad:
500 grams red cabbage (about 1 cabbage)
1-2 apples, diced
about 1/2 cup raisins (I like golden raisins)
Optional: finely chopped chives and lettuce leaves

Sauce:
100 ml vegan mayonnaise (use really mayo if you can!)
3 tablespoons sunflower oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons shallots, finely chopped
2 teaspoons mustard
salt, to taste (I used about 1/2 teaspoon)

Instructions:

1. Slice the cabbage into thin strips and place in a large bowl.

2. Prepare the sauce by whisking together all the ingredients until smooth. Pour the sauce over the cabbage and toss until well-incorporated.

3.Stir in the raisins and diced apple(s). Best served the same day. Top with chopped chives and serve with fresh lettuce leaves, if desired.

For 2015, we have lots to look forward to in terms of managing my son’s milk allergy, like a food challenge next week and starting school in August. I hope you do too! Happy New Year, and Bonne Année, everyone!

Recipe: Swiss Stollen for Christmas

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For Christmas this year, I’ve started making Stollen. This rich yeasted cake originated in Germany, but you can find it in our Suisse romande bakeries and grocery stores (and I assume it’s even more readily available in German-speaking Switzerland).

I adapted a recipe from Croqu’menus—the Swiss cookbook students use in public school classrooms—so it’s dairy-free for my son. The dough is studded with raisins, flaked almonds and candied lemon and orange peel. My favorite part is the log of almond paste that spans the length of the cake.

store window stollen

Swiss Stollen at a local bakery

Dating back centuries, the Stollen’s oval shape supposedly resembles the baby Jesus wrapped in swaddling clothes. In particular, Dresden, Germany seems to be the international epicenter for this special Christmas cake. For more information about the history of the Stollen, the Food Network has compiled a quick summary.


Marzipan vs. Almond Paste

Stollen recipes vary, but from what I’ve seen, they often contain marzipan. For the first one I made, I used marzipan. Soon after, I came across a very helpful post from The Kitchn comparing marzipan and another similar product, almond paste. Before, I thought these products were the same thing, but when I visited our Swiss grocery stores, I noticed two different products to choose from: marzipan and pâte d’amandes.

My Swiss recipe calls for pâte d’amandes, which I used in my second batch of Stollen, and I thought the consistency was better than marzipan. The pâte d’amandes seemed a little softer and less sweet. I think you can certainly use marzipan, but I prefer the almond paste—even though they only have a slight difference both in taste and appearance.


Stollen de Noël

Recipe adapted from Croqu’menus (9th edition, 2005, p. 268).

Makes two loaves

Dough:
150 ml milk substitute (I used soy milk)
20 grams fresh yeast
4 tablespoons sugar
1 egg
60 grams dairy-free margarine, softened
300 grams all-purpose flour (and about an extra 1/4-1/2 cup for kneading)
1 teaspoon salt

Dried fruit and nut mixture:
5 tablespoons raisins (I used golden raisins)
5 tablespoons flaked almonds
1 tablespoon candied lemon peel, chopped
1 tablespoon candied orange peel, chopped
2 drops of almond extract (essence d’amandes amères)

Filling:
100 grams almond paste (pâte d’amandes; marzipan works too if you can’t find almond paste)

Topping:
50 grams dairy-free margarine
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla sugar (optional)

Instructions:

1. Add the fresh yeast to the soy milk and sugar. Let is set for a few minutes and then stir until completely dissolved. Set aside.

2. Whisk the flour and salt together in a large bowl. Make a well in the center. Pour in the yeast mixture, along with the egg and spoonfuls of the softened dairy-free margarine. Stir together until a soft dough forms.

3. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes until the dough becomes smooth and elastic. Please note: The dough is very soft and sticky to start, but be patient. Add some flour to prevent sticking, but only a little at a time. Try not to add too much so it stays nice and soft. I even use Paul Hollywood’s dough-throwing method for this recipe, because the dough is difficult to handle at first.

4. When the dough is ready, quick knead in the fruit and nut mixture, along with the almond extract, just until well incorporated throughout the dough. Please note: I find it easier to do this final knead back in the bowl, rather than on a flat surface.

5. Place the dough in a bowl covered with plastic wrap or a towel and let it rise until doubled, about 1-2 hours.

6. Punch down the dough. Divide the dough in half. Roll each of the two pieces of dough out and make two ovals about 1-inch (3 cm) thick.

7. Divide the almond paste in half, so that each piece weighs about 50 grams. Using your hands, roll the paste into 2 logs measuring a little less than the length of the two ovals. Place them in the center of the ovals. Fold the dough in half, covering the log of almond paste.

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8. Cover the loaves in plastic and let rise for another hour or so.

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9. Melt the margarine and brush some over the loaves, saving about 2/3 of the margarine for two additional coatings—the second about halfway through the baking process, and the third and final coating brushed on after the loaves are out of the oven, but still warm.

10. After the first coating of margarine is brushed on, bake the loaves at 200°C/400°F for about 20-30 minutes, until the loaves have developed a deep brown color. About halfway through the baking process, give them another coating of margarine.

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11. Take the loaves out of the oven, and while still warm, brush the rest of the margarine over them. Let them cool on a wire rack.

12. After the loaves have cooled, mix together the powdered sugar and vanilla sugar and coat the loaves generously with this mixture. Store them tightly wrapped in plastic. Tie them with a ribbon for a perfect holiday gift! Best eaten the first day or two after baking.

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I hope you have a wonderful holiday season and a happy and healthy 2015! Please check back the week of January 5th for my next post. Joyeuses fêtes, et bonne année!

Save the date: January 27, 2015 – Benefizkonzert der stiftung aha! Centre d’Allergie Suisse in Bern

Recipe: Magenbrot – Chocolate Gingerbread

‘Tis the season for Christmas markets in Switzerland, and I hope to visit one soon! To date, I’ve strolled through these festive markets in Montreux, Neuchâtel and Zurich. With a steaming mug of vin chaud in my hands, I have to always stop and admire all the sweet Swiss treats. I still have many to try, but one of my favorites is Magenbrot—small cocoa gingerbreads coated with dark chocolate icing.

Christmas market stall - Zurich

Zurich Christmas Market, December 2013

magenbrot - onion festival

Onion Market in Bern, November 2013

Magenbrot means “stomach bread” in German. According to Patrimoine Culinaire Suisse, the name developed because the spices and sugar contained in the bread were supposed to aid digestion. Instead of wheat flour, recipes for Magenbrot call for rye flour, which gives the gingerbread a little more texture. You can typically find these at fall festivals in Switzerland, like the Bern Onion Market, and at Christmas markets. Bakeries that make Magenbrot traditionally sell them wrapped in pink paper.


Magenbrot

(dairy-free, egg-free and nut-free)

Recipe adapted from Betty Bossi.

Dry ingredients:
300 grams rye flour
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon salt

Wet ingredients:
125 grams sugar
150 ml rice milk
1 tablespoon kirsch

1. Whisk together the dry ingredients in a large bowl until well-blended.

2. In a separate container, whisk together the wet ingredients and then pour into the large bowl with the flour mixture. Stir until a dough forms.

3. Turn the dough on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Roll with a floured rolling pin until you have a rectangle, about 2 cm thick. Cut the rectangle into about 5 strips of dough with a sharp knife. Please note: The dough will be a bit sticky, so use a little extra flour to help shape it.

Magenbrot dough

4. Bake at 180°C/350°F for about 20 minutes. Let cool slightly on a wire rack. When still warm, cut into pieces, approximately 2 x 4 cm. Let the pieces continue to cool while you prepare the glaze.


Magenbrot Glaze

100 grams allergy-friendly dark chocolate
20 grams dairy-free margarine
100 ml water
250 grams powdered sugar
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon cloves
a pinch of nutmeg
a pinch of salt

1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, mix the first three ingredients together, just until the chocolate is melted and well-blended. Remove from the heat and whisk in the remaining ingredients.

2. Put the cooled Magenbrot in a large bowl and pour the warm glaze over them. Toss them gently in the glaze until well-coated.

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3. Place the Magenbrot on a wire rack to cool and for the glaze to harden. Store in an airtight container.

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I just froze some homemade Magenbrot so my son can have an allergy-friendly treat during our next visit to a Swiss Christmas market. They’re easy to make and highly addictive!

Recipe: Swiss Pumpkin Pie – Tarte à la Courge

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Are you looking for a dairy-free dessert for Thanksgiving? If so, please check out my recipe below for an elegant Swiss tart that can be made with either squash or pumpkin.


Our Third Swiss Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving week has arrived, and 2014 marks our third time celebrating this very American holiday in Switzerland. This Thursday, my son will go to school and to his piano lesson. My husband will go to work. In the evening, we’ll all meet back at home for a small-scale version of Thanksgiving—although this year our turkey may be in the form of Fondue Chinoise (the boys love it, and it’s easy for a weeknight!).

I feel thankful this year for many things, but in terms of food allergies, I’m overjoyed that my son is “only” allergic to milk, and there’s a good chance he’ll outgrow it. We had three food challenges this year, two of which were negative and allowed us to introduce new foods into his diet—almonds and raw/undercooked eggs. Then, in January 2015, he’ll begin a new round of milk-based food challenges, starting with baked milk. With cautious optimism, I’m beginning to imagine what life could be like for my son, if he outgrows all of his food allergies. Fingers crossed!

In the meantime, we’re still living dairy-free in Switzerland for him. Our Thanksgiving will be free of milk products again this year, but I love being able to use eggs without any concerns—especially when making a Swiss-style pumpkin pie: Tarte à la Courge.

Courge actually means squash in French, but you can use pureed citrouille or potiron (pumpkin) instead. When I made it this week, I used one large potimarron squash, like those shown in the photo below. This tart has a delicate squash flavor that’s complemented by a cinnamon and sugar topping and a thin, sweet layer of crushed speculoos cookies underneath.

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Please note: If you’re looking for a dairy-free, egg-free and soy-free pumpkin pie, we used a recipe last year from the Kids with Food Allergies Foundation’s online community.


Tarte à la Courge (Squash Tart)

Recipe adapted from Recettes du terroir neuchâtelois by Francis Grandjean (2002).

Makes one large tart in a 28-cm (11-inch) diameter pan.

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Crust:
350 grams dairy-free pâte brisée (i.e., an American-style pie crust. My husband makes this for me, as I have absolutely no patience to do so. His favorite recipe calls for vodka and comes from Cook’s Illustrated.)

Filling:
50 grams dairy-free speculoos biscuits, crushed (I used Biscoff cookies)
2 eggs
50 grams sugar
7 grams vanilla sugar (or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract)
200 ml almond milk
50 ml soy cream (or another non-dairy cream)
50 grams all-purpose flour
700 grams squash or pumpkin puree (I roasted and pureed a potimarron squash)

Topping:
A few dashes of cinnamon
100 grams sugar

1. Grease the pan with dairy-free margarine and line it with parchment paper. Roll out the dough for the crust and gently lay it in the pan. Using your fingers, press the dough into place in the pan, making sure it’s evenly spread out.

2. Prick the crust in several places with a fork, and then sprinkle and spread the crushed cookies on top of the dough—only on the bottom, don’t worry about the sides.

3. Whisk together the eggs, almond milk, sugar, vanilla sugar, soy cream and flour until well-blended. Then, stir in the squash or pumpkin puree. Pour the mixture gently into the prepared pan, and spread evenly.

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4. Sprinkle some cinnamon over the top of the filling, and then sprinkle the sugar evenly over the cinnamon.

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5. Bake at 200°C/400°F for 35-40 minutes until filling has set, and the crust has browned slightly. Allow to fully cool and then serve with a generous dollop of dairy-free whipped cream.

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Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! If you have any allergy-friendly recipes to share, please leave a comment below. I’m still planning our menu for Thursday…

New Requirements for Food Allergen Labeling in Switzerland

In the coming year, you will start seeing some changes in how food allergens are labeled in Switzerland. For people living with food allergies and intolerlances, for whom label-reading is a daily activity, here’s a quick summary of the new federal requirements.

Food labels allergens scottish oat cakes

Food allergen labeling on a package of Scottish Oatcakes from Northern Ireland (and in braille)


What is the purpose of the new Swiss labeling requirements for food allergens?

On November 25, 2013, the Swiss Department of the Interior and the Federal Office of Public Health revised the federal ordinance concerning the labeling of food allergens: Ordonnance du DFI sur l’étiquetage et la publicité des denrées alimentaires (817.022.21). These revisions mean that food labels must clearly indicate 14 common allergens by using a special font, character style (e.g., capitalized letters), background color or other appropriate means. Even though Switzerland is not a member of the European Union, these revisions are consistent with the requirements of Article 21 under the EU Labeling Directive.


When will these new requirements become effective?

The revised ordinance came into effect on January 1, 2014, but there is a 2-year transitional period. Companies have until December 31, 2015 to become fully compliant with the new requirements, or until they exhaust their inventories of food products that comply with the previous ordinance (see Chapitre 6: Dispositions finales, 817.022.21). As such, it’s possible you may still see products in 2016 that don’t meet the new requirements, but still can legally be sold to consumers.


What potential allergens must be labeled on food products in Switzerland?

There are currently 14 common allergens that must be identified on food labels in Switzerland. Please note: The 2013 revisions to the ordinance for labeling food allergens did not make any changes to this list.

  • Celery

  • Crustacean shellfish (i.e., crab, lobster, and shrimp)

  • Eggs

  • Fish

  • Gluten (i.e., wheat, rye, barley, oats and spelt)*

  • Lupine

  • Milk

  • Mollusks (i.e., oysters, clams, mussels, or scallops)

  • Mustard

  • Peanuts

  • Sesame (FYI: There’s a new petition to include sesame among the required allergens for food labels in the United States).

  • Soybeans

  • Sulphur dioxide or sulphites

  • Tree nuts

*Please note: The category of “gluten” includes wheat, which is considered one of the “Top 8” allergens in the United States.


How did the Swiss government make companies aware of the new requirements?

The Federation of Swiss Food Industries organized a “food legislation continuing training day” in 2014, according to written responses I received earlier this month from an official from the Federal Food Safety and Veterinary Office (FSVO) at the Federal Department of Home Affairs. At this event, FSVO provided detailed information about the revised ordinance for labeling food products. In general, “companies are responsible for ensuring that their products conform to current legislation (self-monitoring).” At this time, FSVO does not have any information on the extent to which companies are currently complying with these new requirements.


Who is responsible for monitoring the labeling of food allergens in Switzerland?

In Switzerland, federal agencies do not have the responsibility for monitoring food products on the market, according to the written responses I received from an FSVO official. Instead, cantonal executive authorities fill this role: Contrôle des denrées alimentaires en Suisse. In particular, these cantonal agencies “are responsible for monitoring the conformity of food products that can be marketed without regulatory approval.” If you have questions or concerns about a particular product that may not be in compliance with the current regulations, you can contact these authorities for assistance.


Where can I learn more about the revised requirements for labeling food allergens in Switzerland?

For detailed information about these revisions in French, German and Italian, here are some helpful links from FSVO:

  • Revisions 2013

  • Communiqué de presse: Révision de la législation sur les denrées alimentaires : protéger la santé et éviter les tromperies (December 3, 2014)

  • Dossier de presse: Révision annuelle de la législation sur les denrées alimentaires—Les points forts de la révision (December 3, 2014)

 

In my opinion, it’s great seeing these new requirements for food labels in Switzerland and throughout the European Union. Anything that can help keep consumers safe, without creating an unnecessary burden on companies, seems like a welcome change.

Updated: January 15, 2015

Bundt Day 2014 Recipe: Lemon Gugelhupf

Gugelhopf Bundt

Happy National Bundt Day 2014! One of the most satisfying celebrations of the year, Bundt Day marks the start of the holiday baking season. I usually end up with about 3-4 cakes to share with family and friends. This year is no exception. We’ll be making and eating way too much cake today.

Bundt Cakes - state fair

Prize-winning Bundt cakes at the Minnesota State Fair (Source: M. Nieuwsma)


The Swiss Bundt: Kugelhopf/Gugelhupf

As I’ve written before, Switzerland has a rich history of making the precursor to Bundt cakes—the kugelhopf (a.k.a. gugelhupf and many other names). Since the early 19th century, according to Patrimoine Culinaire Suisse, nearly all Swiss cookbooks contained at least one recipe for this fluted cake with a whole in the middle. In comparison, the Nordic Ware company introduced the Bundt pan to the United States in the 1950s.

I love discovering old Swiss-style molds for these cakes and need to add one to my collection. The photos below show some examples of these antique molds, which are on display at the Alimentarium in Vevey, Switzerland

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Antique kugelhopf molds at the Alimentarium

I recently found a recipe for a gugelhupf in a Swiss cookbook for children that I borrowed from a friend. Here’s dairy-free version of the gugelhupf, which reminds me of an American-style pound cake. It’s delicious served with fresh berries and a big dollop of whipped dairy-free cream.


Lemon Gugelhupf

Adapted from Backen mit Globi (2013).

(dairy-free, nut-free)

Wet ingredients – Mixture #1:
7 egg yolks
250 gram dairy-free margarine, soft
100 grams powdered sugar
7 grams vanilla sugar
zest of 1-2 lemons

Wet ingredients – Mixture #2:
7 egg whites
1/8 teaspoon salt
150 grams sugar

Dry ingredients:
150 grams all-purpose flour
100 grams
corn starch

1. With dairy-free margarine, grease and flour a cake mold with a diameter of 20 cm (8 inches) or a 10-cup Bundt pan.

2. Mix together all the wet ingredients for mixture #1 in a large bowl until well-blended. (Please note: separate the eggs and save them for mixture #2).

3. In a separate bowl, mix the egg white and salt vigorously until they form stiff peaks. I did this by hand, but use an electronic mixer if you have one! Then, stir in the sugar.

4. In a third bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients.

5. To the large bowl with mixture #1, gently fold in mxture #2 and the dry ingredients in multiple and alternating batches. Do not overbeat.

6. Pour the batter into the pan, and spread the batter evenly. Bake at about 45 minutes at 180°C/350°F until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the cake.

7. Leave the cake in the pan to cool for about 10 minutes, and then invert onto a wire rack to cool completely. When completely cooled, dust generously with powdered sugar.

bundt cake slice 2014


Are you making an allergy-friendly Bundt cake today?
If so, please share your recipe in a comment below or send me a photo. If you’re looking for some inspiration, here’s a video of some of my dairy-free Bundt cakes from over the years.  Bon week-end!

Oral Food Challenge for Raw Egg: Passed

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After discovering my son’s milk allergy when he was about 9 months old, we found ourselves identifying more potential allergens he needed to avoid, including eggs, peanuts, tree nuts and sesame. Even though he had never eaten these foods, blood and skin prick tests indicated a positive result—the possibility an allergic reaction could occur. His allergist in the United States recommended avoiding these foods until further testing could be done with a new allergist after our move to Switzerland in 2012. Today, I’m happy to report that my son passed his most recent oral food challenge, which means he only has one allergen now: milk—the original inspiration for this blog.


Eating Raw Eggs at the Hospital

On Halloween, my 3-year old son had his fifth food challenge at a Swiss hospital. Scheduling a food challenge on a holiday—although not widely celebrated in Switzerland—probably wasn’t the best idea. It can be hard to get an appointment though, and I was feeling optimistic. After passing a baked egg food challenge in April 2013, my son’s pediatric allergist decided it was time to try a food challenge with raw egg.

The rationale for using raw egg—as opposed to lightly cooked egg that’s been boiled or scrambled—was that if he “passed” the test, he could safely eat eggs in any form. Spaghetti carbonara? Chocolate mousse? Swiss meringues? A food challenge with a negative result for raw egg would give a clear sign that any of these egg-based dishes would be okay for him, as long as they’re made without milk.

Based on our son’s last food challenge for baked milk, when he refused to eat his third dose, I knew we needed a different approach. My thoughtful cousin suggested giving him “prizes” after each of the five doses, so I picked up some little Matchbox cars. I don’t normally bribe my kids (to this extent, anyway!), but for this particular test with raw egg, it seemed especially necessary.

Even though the final dose was mixed with applesauce, the look of that large bowl of runny, yellow egg made me grimace for a moment when my back was turned. The nurse suggested using the oral syringe for this last dose (see the photo above), so it could bypass his taste buds and arrive more quickly to his throat. As he was halfway through that final dose, I reminded him that the last prize was the biggest of all, and it was his favorite color (red). The prizes certainly did the trick, and thankfully he finished the test.


Evaluating the Symptoms: A Contact Reaction

Altogether, my son consumed over 35 grams of raw egg during the test. After the fifth and final dose, he developed a little redness and a few raised hives around his mouth where the raw egg came in contact with his skin, but he did not experience a systemic reaction. As usual, the allergist and nurse were monitoring his heart rate and blood pressure throughout the test, and he had no other symptoms. When the egg on his face was washed away with water, the redness and hives disappeared almost immediately.

Since it was a non-severe and late-phase reaction, and because my son has mild atopic dermatitis (excema), his allergist determined he only experienced a contact reaction to the raw egg, and therefore he had a negative test result. He can now safely eat egg in all forms. I was given the go-ahead to start serving him eggs, and this time they don’t have to be baked for 30 minutes in bread or cake at 200°C.

Back at home, he’s been gobbling up the egg-based version of already familiar foods, such as waffles, pancakes and crêpes. He’s a little more reluctant to try savory eggs, like in one-eyed monsters sprinkled with salt and pepper. With time, I’m sure this will improve.

As with every negative food challenge, I’m thrilled to start cooking and purchasing new foods. Once again, we’re feeling incredibly lucky.

What was the result for your food challenge with raw or lightly cooked egg? I’m always curious to hear how our experience in Switzerland compares to others. Please leave a comment below, if you have the chance.


Next Steps: Baked Milk Challenge in 2015

In January 2015, my son will repeat a food challenge for baked milk. This time, I’ll be making the cake with a recipe provided by his allergist. A successful test would mean he could move on to food challenges with other forms of milk, like baked yogurt and baked cheese. I don’t know what the future will bring, but there’s a good chance he’ll outgrow his milk allergy as well. As usual, I’m cautiously optimistic, and as I’m required to do, I still always carry two adrenaline auto-injectors, an antihistamine and an allergy action plan with us at all times, just in case.

Thanks for your continued support, advice and encouragement! I hope you’ll be getting some good news about food allergies soon too.

Finally, don’t forget that Bundt Day is November 15! Here’s a video to inspire some Bundt cake baking. I hope to share a new dairy-free Bundt recipe later this week.