Penicillin, as most people realize, is derived from mold. As such, this fungal wonder-drug holds deadly threats for anyone suffering from allergic reactions to not only that particular variety (penicillium notatam) but to molds in general. Allopathic as well as alernative medical professionals will state that it’s wise, and often necessary, to consider all forms of mold potentially harmful, since allergies develop so easily among related species.
What most health pros won’t think of mentioning, though, is the fact that a great number of foods are also derived from mold. Many cheeses, for the best example, can claim a relationship to penicillin. Particularly soft cheeses like camembert and brie, so popular among so many and easily found in most grocery stores; these little lethal weapons could easily send an allergic sufferer to an Emergency Room with reactions ranging from a bad hives outbreak to full-tilt anaphylactic shock. Makes one heck of an hors-d’oevre, doesn’t it?
Some people have noticed, upon consuming said cheese varieties and others, the peculiar symptoms of hives outbreak, especially on the back, as well as wheezing, diarrhea in some cases, and often, swelling of the throat. (NOTE: In the event of such symptoms, especially those involving breathing/swallowing, CALL 911 IMMEDIATELY!!!) Funny, they think at the time, I have these same reactions to certain antibiotics. On checking things out, they often are told to stop eating the offending foods at once, same as they will be told to cease use of such medications, and to get medical help right away. Many patients, however, have yet to make the connection and still continue to eat what ails them. They consider only blue cheese (or “bleu”, since the more expensive varieties keep to the French traditional name to excuse their higher prices) to be moldy. Well, it doesn’t have to be literally blue and crawling with mold to have the spores there. Similarly, many other foods, including potato chips and other snack/junk foods have blue cheese among their listed ingredients. Nothing at all may be indicated on the front of the package or in the product name to clue the consumer in about the possible danger. We’ve come a little ways in having likely allergens such as nuts, peanuts, milk, eggs and wheat listed; but food producers have not caught up to the fact that mold is involved in some cheeses, and that mold is potentially dangerous.
It may be quite a while before word gets out to enough people in the supermarket/convenience store lanes that certain members of the populace (approximately 30 per cent) who are allergic to penicillin-based drugs should avoid all forms of food mold as well. Writing to our government representatives, asking them to urge food producers to list such ingredients as allergen dangers on product packaging, would be a great step forward to ensure safety for about a third of us. Here in Detroit, contact:
Sen. Carl Levin–477 Michigan Ave # 1860, Detroit
Rep. John Conyers Jr.–231 W Lafayette Blvd # 669, Detroit
Sen. Debbie Stabenow–243 W Congress St # 550, Detroit
For other local areas, see these links: