Food Producers’ Great Responsibility, Especially To People With Food Allergies

Earlier this month, containers of Almond Breeze Almond Milk were recalled because of cross contamination. HP Hood LLC, Blue Diamond’s parent company, recalled over 140,000 ½ gallon containers of vanilla almond milk across 28 states.

The announcement stated that the said almond milk may contain trace amounts of cow’s milk (dairy). Blue Diamond told customer’s to identify the potentially contaminated milk by the use-by-date, which is September 2, 2018.

The recall announcement for this recall was around August 1, 2018. As parents know, milk goes very quickly in our houses. I believe that Hood should have absolutely been on top of this mistake sooner than they were. Milk that has a use-by-date in September is practically gone in Late-July, August, especially when we have already started to see October use-by-dates. Hood was way too slow on this one and that’s dangerous and irresponsible.

For a parent of a child a with severe food allergies, this “mistake” is extremely troubling because it can be life threatening. Fortunately for our family, we had not used our cartons yet, and we were able to dispose of the potentially contaminated cartons.

My daughter is extremely allergic to dairy. Any contact or ingestion of dairy could cause her to go into anaphylactic shock. We got lucky because if my daughter had drunk that milk, it could have been a terrible situation.

We choose to drink Almond Breeze’s Almond Milk as an alternative to cow’s milk because it’s supposed to be safe and nutritious. As parents, we rely on food companies to handle these sensitive issues, such as food cross contamination, with extreme care and sensitivity. I believe that in this particular situation, Hood dropped the ball, and that is very scary.

We are parents, but we are also consumers. We put our trust in food manufactures to have high standards, especially with products that we use to nourish our children.

I read that out of all of the Almond Breeze Almond Milk sold each year, this recall only made up about 0.8% of total production each year. While I can acknowledge that 0.8% is a relatively small number, it does not excuse the fact that their mistake could have resulted in the administration of an EpiPen on my 3 year old, or something far worse.

I believe that all food producers, especially those who promote their foods to be allergen free, need to make sure that these types of mistakes don’t happen, and if they do to be more on top of immediately alerting customers.

My confidence in Blue Diamond’s Almond Breeze has been dashed, and we have already switched brands. I know to a large company like Hood or Blue Diamond a recall of 0.8% of one of their many products seems insignificant, but to a family who has a child with severe food allergies, the consequences of their mistake could have been absolutely devastating.

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a bond that transcends the innermost

Please be there when you are needed most

Not just when you’re set to host

Be soulmate, not a ghost

Someone to travel with coast to coast

Or home, awoken by coffee and toast

A journey best made when you are close

Unnecessary to mark with a post

A bond that transcends the innermost

My kids help me celebrate life

Yesterday was my grandma’s birthday and I forgot. I saw my parents later in the evening and my dad reminded me. Even as simple as it may seem I can never remember her birthday. I only remember the anniversary of her death. After he told me I felt ashamed for not remembering.

I loved my grandmother more than anyone else on the planet, and yesterday I forgot her birthday. My forgetfulness is not unique to this year alone. I forget every year and yesterday I asked myself “why?” Why do I always remember the anniversary of her death, but never her birthday?

She died on May 1st.

That date I know by heart. May 1st was a sad day, but it was also an odd day as well. It was also the day Osama bin Laden was killed. I remember feeling sick to my stomach trying to come to terms with her death, while also trying to process what the death of Osama bin Laden meant to the United States and the rest of the world.

In forgetting her birthday this year, I realized that maybe I am focusing on the sadness of her death, and not the joy of her life. Most days are good days, but every now and then a day will come by where I just can’t process her not being here. My brain momentarily malfunctions where it just can’t accept her absence, like a malfunctioning disk on a clutch. And it hurts.

I still live close to where she lived and sometimes I’ll drive by her house and want to stop by, or I’ll just want to give her a call on my way home from work. Not until she was gone did I realize how intricately woven she was in every part of my life. Whether it was helping her with the trash, cutting weeds in the summer, shoveling snow in the winter, or just going over to her house for some miniscule reason, she was my whole world.

My children are now my whole world now, but she was my world too, and sometimes it’s hard to let one of those worlds go, especially when they would have eloquently complemented one another.

Without them even knowing it, my kids have helped me greatly because I can share stories about her, which I do constantly.

Although they have never met her, they know about her infamous Christmas ornaments, her Berenstain Bears book collection, and her signature pasta dishes. I know now that in a way, I can still live with her every day, which is why I think I need to celebrate her life, instead of her death.

Next year I will still remember her death, but I will also remember the day of her life.

A bed of roses

I see you sitting there fighting for each breath

Every day, every moment, wondering what comes next

All the things I worry about, and prioritized in my mind,

become nothing more than trivial, things easily left behind

Happiness is fleeting, when you’re gasping for each breath of air

Wondering how to get you out of this, and off that aching chair

The dishes in the sink are waiting; people are calling on the phone

They wanna to talk to you and know that you are home

Then everything will be right again, when you are back in your house

Completely surrounded by windows, your radiance shining out

The sun is no match for you, your beaming and loving soul

When I hear your voice I’m recharged, simply with a hello

I just wanna call you

I just wanna talk to you

And that’s the hardest part

Maybe I’m being selfish, but I need you to be home

So when I call your house, you’re there to pick up the phone

So you can make me laugh, and we can joke about this and that

Alright then, you’ll say, I love you,

and I’ll say, I love you back

a most delicate dance

City blocks
Hot roof tops
Heavy breathing
People weaving
Worse for wear
Weather in disagreement
Life is hectic
We’re all connected
Sharing problems with a glance
This thing called life
A most delicate dance

Parenting: instead, try a little tenderness

There are times in every parent’s life when you feel like you’re just continuously losing. Your kids don’t listen, ends don’t ever seem to meet, and maybe you and your spouse are like zombies living around each other just trying to survive each day.

Since becoming a parent, I am required to constantly make decisions that pertain to, and directly affect my children. It comes with the responsibility of being a parent. Even in my sleep I can be woken up at any moment and expected to solve a problem. A wet bed, a bad dream, or a screaming teething baby, just to name a few.

As stressful and cumbersome as parenthood may be at times, I love it. I like the challenge. I like the focus that’s required. I also like the pressure of it. Very few things in life can put as much pressure on a person as parenthood, and that’s what makes it so great. It’s an everyday struggle and sometimes it’s a fight.

Not a fight with our kids, but a fight with ourselves. It’s a fight to get off that stool after the 11th round and go back out there to make dinner in the 12th round. It’s the fight to get off the couch for the 379th time to stop the baby from eating a foam letter. It’s a fight to push through a crowded subway platform five days week. It’s a fight to navigate through hellish traffic on your way home from work and still stop in the grocery store to buy groceries that you struggle to afford.

Parenthood is about as real as it gets. I feel pumped and I feel broken at times, but like I said, I love it. Even though my body has become like silly putty I feel Herculean! The highs are high when I feel like I can do it all, but the lows are low too. As many times as I feel like I can do it all, there are also instances where I feel like I can do nothing right. Dinner is burned, everyone is crying, I forget my wife exists, and I’m sheepishly looking in. I become unfocused and I’m not mentally present.

It’s hard to comprehend that just a week ago I popped off that stool, and now this week I can barely make it back to my corner. Parenting has taken its toll and I’m staggering. My knees are weak, I can’t get my wind back, and I’m looking for a place to hide. Times like these are trying, but we have no choice other than to keep moving forward.

That’s when I dig. I dig deep, and sometimes I don’t like who I become. I am short tempered and I raise my voice. I’m impatient and I’m ever running for the finish line to collapse and catch my breath. The cruel joke of it all is that there is no finish line. My kids never go to sleep on the nights that I really need a break, and even if they did, I’m always too wound up to fall asleep anyway. I’m over stimulated and burned out at the same time.

On a night like this, by the fourth trip to the bathroom I’m completely broken down. I’m tired and I’m weary, but I am firm and insisting. Bedtime is now, and it’s not optional, I tell my son. All the while my sixth sense is tingling. It’s been a long day for me, but it’s also been a very long couple of weeks for our whole family too.

What’s different here? For one, we have a very sick family member in the hospital. Also, we’ve had multiple family visitors staying with us. Lastly, the school year just ended, which means we’re off our normal schedule and everything feels a little different. The list goes on and on, but I think you get the point.

It’s times like these when it hits me like a ton of bricks, and I feel like a complete and utter jackass. My firm demeanor melted away and my herculean strength was gone. I felt feeble and sad, and I did the only thing I could do; I grabbed my son and held him as tightly as humanly possible. He squeezed me harder than he ever has and cried. I cried too. We cried together, and like a bolt of lightning I saw what I was missing.

Tenderness.

Our exchange didn’t change the fact that he went to the bathroom one more time before bed, and took another hour to fall asleep, but in this instance being strong didn’t help. Being that strong stoic parent that I thought I was supposed to be made me impervious to the signals he was sending me.

Parenting is such a fickle thing because it’s about finesse and picking your battles. Five years later and I am still trying to figure this thing out, and every time I’ve think I got it, it changes. I love being a parent, and my life wouldn’t be as fruitful, exciting, funny, and challenging without it, sometimes I just wish I was better at it.