Allergy Mum

Reporter: Rohan Wenn

We all eat to live, but imagine if your child could die, simply by eating the wrong food. Sadly Jane Hicker doesn't have to imagine -- her daughter Olivia has spent her life one bite away from tragedy. 5-year-old Olivia is allergic to a disturbing number of ingredients and additives found in everyday food. She's never without her Epi-pen, which is the only thing that can save her if she has a potentially-fatal allergic reaction.

One in 20 Australian children suffer from food allergies and even more suffer from food intolerance. In the last 12 years, the number of children with food allergies has increased 12-fold. At worst allergies can be fatal. Intolerances can cause skin irritations, dietary problems, bloating, headaches, mood swings, and behavioural problems, as mother of three sons Jenny Ravlic knows all too well. "Having three boys in the house, if they are all reacting, it's a totally different house. They don't get along, they don't play nicely, they don't eat properly, they don't sleep properly, they complain about any simple thing you ask them to do", Jenny said.

But giving your kids food that is allergy and additive free isn't easy, as Jane Hicker discovered, especially when your child has multiple allergies. The food manufacturers don't make it any easier, by constantly cramming their products with the cheapest preservatives and additives, possible, so that can make trips to the supermarket long and complicated as labels have to be checked and re-checked every time you shop.

Jane finally realized if Olivia was going to eat a wide range of normal foods that were safe, Jane was going to have to make them. What began as a need, has become a burgeoning home business called Hullabaloo food. The wide variety of allergy and intolerance free products cost a fraction more than their preservative and additive packed alternatives, but they are the result of a lot of trial and error. "Sometimes it works straight away. Other times it's three in the morning and I decide to cut my losses and start again in the morning", Jane said. And for parents like Jenny and Kathleen Dallmeyer, who's daughter develops behavioral problems from certain ingredients, the product range has been a Godsend. "It was obvious within days that yes we have found a solution here", Kathleen said.

Tanya Payne has also used the Hullabaloo range -- which includes products like wheat free play dough -- to help son Conrad avoid peanuts, tree nuts, potato, legumes, peas and latex - all of which he's allergic to. "The more sort of foods like that are out there the more sort of choices we have when it comes to feeding our children", Tanya said. Doctors don't know why more and more children are developing allergies and intolerances, but Jenny says it's something the big food manufacturers are going to have to address. And until they do, she's prepared to corner the market.

Hullabaloo Food -- www.hullabaloofood.com /Jane - 0419 364 136

Additive Education -- www.additiveeducation.com.au/

Kathleen -- 0422 947 205/ www.fedup.com.au