Saturday, March 28, 2009

Sara Lee Response & Pecan Pie

First off, I got a "no response" response from Sara Lee. It is clearly a form response and does not address any of the concerns in my complaint:

Dear Leigha,

Thank you for contacting Sara Lee. It is always important to hear from our consumers, and we appreciate your comments regarding the Sara Lee Honey Wheat Bread.Sara Lee is committed to providing quality products and service to our consumers. Please be assured that all comments are helpful in achieving our goal of customer satisfaction. It is only by meeting the needs of the consumers like you that we can continue to be successful. Your feedback will be shared with our marketing department.Thank you for your business! Should you have any comments or questions in the future, please contact us via our website at or by calling our toll-free number, 1-800-323-7117. Our representatives are available Monday-Friday between the hours of 7am and 6pm CST.

Sara Lee Consumer Affairs Representative

* * * *

Hopefully my complaint will actually make it to someone who will care enough to send me a real response, but I'm not holding my breath.

In other news, yesterday I ate nuts for the first time in about 2 years. I stopped eating nuts when I got pregnant with my second daughter, Leighton, because our allergist advised that doing that might help prevent her from having allergies. I kept avoiding them throughout her first year because I was nursing her and didn't want to expose her to them through my breastmilk. But since she recently tested negative to all of the common allergens and the doctor said it was okay to expose her to whatever foods I wanted, I have been given the green light to eat peanuts/tree nuts again (and fish and shellfish, the other two things I was avoiding) even though I'm still nursing her.

I'm really not that big of a peanut or tree nut eater. I used to eat a fair amount of peanut butter, but being off of it for so long, I've pretty much lost the taste for it (although every once in a while I still crave a Reese's peanut butter cup). One thing I have not lost the taste for, though, is pecan pie. I am a Louisiana native and it was a staple of my diet growing up. My mom's family makes the best pecan pie in the world. Prior to discovering Ainsley's allergies, either my mom or my aunt would make me an entire pecan pie every Thanksgiving and Christmas (and I would eat the whole thing by myself in about three days).

So last night, my husband and I (sans kids) went out with my best friend and her husband, who were in town from Boston. We went to a dessert place that had - you guessed it - pecan pie. So I ordered a piece. For reasons I can't quite articulate, I felt vaguely guilty in doing this, like nuts are some sort of contraband. But after I got over that, I quite enjoyed the pie. It was not as good as my mom's, for sure, but it still satisfied the craving.

One notable thing about the dessert place we went to was that it was the site of Ainsley's worst allergic reaction, which was almost exactly two years ago. We had gone there for a Mother's Day brunch. This was back when I was still stupid and would allow Ainsley to eat a lot of restaurant food. She ate some chicken fingers for lunch, and did fine, but things turned badly when we gave her some pink meringue cookies for dessert (meringue cookies are the signature dessert of this restaurant). In case you don't know, meringue cookies are made of three things - egg white, sugar, and food coloring.

At this point, I'm sure you're wondering why we would ever give an egg-allergic kid pure egg white (the white being the allergenic part of the egg). The answer is simply that we had no idea she was allergic to eggs. Although my husband loves eggs, I don't and so we never ate a lot of egg dishes at home. The most I would use them for is as an ingredient in a baked good. Since Ainsley had had eggs in baked goods before - and had also eaten things with mayonnaise in them a few times - I assumed she wasn't allergic.

Boy, was I wrong. That day, she took two bites of one of the meringue cookies and put it down. I asked if she wanted more and she looked at me seriously and said no. Shortly after that, she told me her mouth hurt. Getting a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach, I hoped she might just have bitten her tongue. But my fears were confirmed when, a minute or two later, she started vomiting. As soon as she stopped throwing up, I gave her Benadryl, knowing she was in the midst of an allergic reaction. Then hives started appearing all over her face - the most I have ever seen. Her eyes swelled almost shut, and she became quiet. We took her out to the car and - seeing that she was becoming somewhat lethargic (but still conscious and talking) - I gave her the Epi-Pen and we quickly drove to the closest hospital. On the way to the hospital, I kept asking her what her name was, what my name was, and what Dave's name was to keep her conscious and talking to me. She was barely whispering the answers. That car ride was, no question, the scariest time in my life as a parent.

Thankfully, a few minutes after arriving at the hospital, the Benadryl started taking effect, the hives started disappearing, and she was acting like herself again. A few days later, I took her to the allergist, who tested her for egg and confirmed that she was indeed allergic. Very allergic. Her CAP-RAST # to egg was 35 (the higher the number, the more likely the chance of an allergic reaction). For comparison, her number to milk was 14 and to peanuts was 12.

In hindsight, there were earlier signs Ainsley was allergic to eggs (for instance, she had a few minor reactions after my mom and my mother-in-law had given her eggs), but I think I had downplayed those incidents because, in my mind, I didn't want to consider the possibility that Ainsley could be allergic to more than just milk and peanuts. I am just thankful that Ainsley's monster allergic reaction happened while I was there so I could administer Benadryl and an Epi-Pen quickly and take her to the hospital.

1 comment:

Food Allergy Assistant said...

I got the same canned response from Sara Lee. I was hoping for a personal response to show that someone actually read my letter and cared about my concerns.

We've switched brands. Too bad Sara Lee!