Friday, October 10, 2008

More BPA Bad News

A new study released in Environmental Health Perspectives shows that , in vitro, bisphenol A can interfere with several chemotherapy drugs. 

Read more at Tree Hugger or download the study here
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Wednesday, October 08, 2008

New look. More Ads

Well, once again I'm trying to make a concerted effort to post more regularly. If you look around you will also see that I'm trying to make a bit of cash. I'd love to move to and maybe be able to spend more time blogging.

So go ahead, click on an ad. You know you wanna.

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We've been working on going phthalate-free in our home, ditching just about everything that has "fragrance". Pthalates are known hormone disruptors, and have been banned in children's toys in Canada and the US.

The trouble is, phthalates are found in just about every cosmetic product that contains fragrance. Research indicates that phthalates are absorbed through the skin. New research is showing that phthalte exposure in utero is hazardous to the fetus:

new research has found new evidence of "phthalate syndrome"- smaller penises, and undescended or incompletely descended testicles- in humans. Shanna Swan, director of the Center for Reproductive Epidemiology at the University of Rochester's school of medicine, who led the research, says phthalates are ""probably reproductive toxins and should be eliminated from products gradually because we don't need them."

For more information on phthalates visit:

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Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Halloween - Don't worry so much about letting kids go crazy on the candy

This year, Curious Boy will be almost 3 at Hallowwen.  This means that he understands about going out trick-or-treating and he understands about candy. The common advice to parents is to mete out candy over an extended period of time, but some pediatric dentists have different advice for parents.

“The frequency of eating candy, and other refined carbohydrates, and
their stickiness, are big factors in creating the risk of caries
(cavities),” he said.

Eating carbohydrates can change the pH balance of the mouth, making
it more acidic, which can increase the risk of cavities. Each time
candy is eaten, the acid environment in the mouth can take up to an
hour to dissipate.

“Parents can let kids eat a bunch [of candy] now and a bunch later. But
don’t let them have one piece now, then an hour later let them have
another piece,” he said, adding that candy can also be dispensed as a
dessert or snack.

Read More (ScienceDaily)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Ken Robinson @ TED: Schools Kill Creativity

I know it's ironic that a teacher would post this.  But there you go.

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Sunday, July 20, 2008

Two months since the last post........jeez!

All of a sudden it's mid-(end of) July, and it's been two months since my last post! How did that happen? On a personal note, things have been well. I've been enjoying my first real holiday in years. Zen Girl continues to live up to her name, and her MSPI seems to be waning. She can now eat soy, legumes, cheese and beef. We are loath to try milk outright, because the introductions of some of the other foods have not been perfect. No blood or anything, just a return of mucous and diarrhea, which then subsided. Her iron levels have returned to normal as well. We have a GI follow up in two months, and we'll see what the story is then. I'm hoping to return to more normal posting as the summer wanes.
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Friday, May 16, 2008

Healthy Diet for Humanity

This TED talk by NY Times food critic is fun and thought provoking. How do you and your family eat?

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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

MSPI - Food Reintroduction Update

Well, Zen Girl is almost 1. We had a GI appointment about two weeks ago, and the GI and dietitian both felt that the time had come to begin seeing if she had grown out of any of her intolerances. They suggested that the best way to do that is for PhilosopherMom introduce food into her diet. This is very (VERY) exciting. So far: soy lecithin, soy oil, legumes, eggs, and soy (in progress) are fine. Beef starts Friday, then cheese next week and milk after that.

Don't forget to visit and join our MSPI Wiki
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Saturday, May 10, 2008

Child Welfare ensure boy Gets Chemo

This is a real heartbreaker.

Child welfare officials have taken temporary custody of an 11-year-old Ontario boy to ensure he undergoes chemotherapy after his father decided to take him off treatment for his aggressive form of leukemia.

A father who cannot be identified says his son is being treated 'like a prisoner' at the hospital where he is being treated for leukemia. (CBC)His father, who along with the boy can't be identified due to youth protection laws, told CBC News on Friday that the boy didn't want to continue with the treatments.(READ MORE)

The hard part is that everybody thinks they are doing the right thing. I'm not sure how I would react. There may be a religious angle that is not be discussed, or the boy's parents simply lost track of the fact that the chemo can save their son's life, regardless of how awful it is.

Here is the report from CBC's The National

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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Children Most Vulnerable to Climate Change

Children are among the most vulnerable members of society. Natural and man-made disasters often affect children more than adults because they are unable to fend for themselves. This is doubly true in poor countries, where children often suffer from malnourishment and illnesses such as malaria or HIV.

Climate change brings with it drought and flooding along with food shortages and violence. The resulting toll on children in the developing world may be catastrophic.

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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Hyperparenting: The Helicopter Parent and Carl Honore with a Stinger Missile

When we went to visit daycares before Curious Boy was born, many of them tried to impress us with their school-like settings and workbooks for 3 year olds. Now, I'm a big fan of letting kids be kids for as long as possible, and Philosopher Mom is a pediatric occupational therapist. We both kept our mouths shut and ran like hell to a family-style home daycare down the street. Getting kids ready to succeed in school is one thing, but forcing them to attempt tasks before they are developmentally ready can really make them suffer.

The hyperparenting trend, where you schedule all of the life out of your kids life is having an incredibly detrimental effect on children's happiness.

Author Carl Honore, who also wrote "In Praise of Slow", has released a new book called "Under Pressure: Rescuing Childhood from the Culture of Hyperparenting". He has been making the rounds on CBC Radio 1, and it seems as though we have a lot in common. He suggests that getting kids into too many activities and putting too much academic pressure on them early on can be ruinous for a child's mental health and actually be counter-productive. He present the case of Finland as a contrast to North America. Children in Finland to not enter school until the age of 7, there is virtually no homework assigned during elementary school and Kumon/Sylvan type tutoring is unheard of. Fins consistently score very highly on internationally standardized tests and rate themselves as 3rd happiest in the world. Certainly something to think about, while you are crying becuase Aiden didn't get into the right preschool and now his chances of going to MIT are shot.

Listen to Carl Honore on Sounds Like Canada
and on the phone-in segment of Radio Noon (Part 1 and Part 2)

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Monday, April 21, 2008

MSPI Wiki: A new online resource

We've made an effort to document our struggle with MSPI, and to collect online resources and to give advice to people who have written to us. Hardly a week goes by without someone telling me how lost and scared they were when their child was diagnosed with MSPI, and how helpful this blog has been. This response has been wonderful, but it has also made me realize that a blog is not necessarily the ideal setup for creating a community that can offer support and advice.

With that in mind, I have created a wiki where people can join, add their stories, questions, recipes and what ever else they can think of. A wiki is only as good as the people who use it, all you MSPI parents out there PLEASE JOIN!!!!!

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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Health Canada will Recognize Bisphenol A as dangerous.

In the wake of Enivronmental Defence's report on BPA in baby bottles that was released in February (and commented on extensively, here too). In our house we've stopped using polycarbonate plastics, and Health Canada seems to be all set to agree with me according to a report in today's Globe and Mail.
Ant Defense
This would be quite the ground-breaker. Health Canada is sometimes criticized for failing to take the lead on many health issues, often waiting to see what the FDA and EPA do. In light of the over-politicization of those agencies it is heartening to see Health Canada be so proactive in protecting the health of Canadians.

via TreeHugger

Parental Behaviour Affects Quality of Child's Sleep

A new study done at Montreal's Sacre Coeur Hospital and set to be published in Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine shows that parental behaviour can dramatically affect the way kids sleep.

Parents also reported their behavior at children’s bedtime (including whether they lulled children to sleep, laid them down awake or stayed with them until they fell asleep) and during nighttime awakenings (including comforting children in bed, taking them out of bed, giving them food or bringing them to the parental bed for cosleeping).

“Early (age 5 to 17 months) sleep disturbances predicted maladaptive parenting behaviors (e.g., mother present at sleep onset, giving food/drink after child awakens) at ages 29 and 41 months,” the authors write. “Some parental behaviors in turn predicted future bad dreams, total sleep time of less than 10 hours per night and sleep-onset latency [delays in falling asleep] of 15 minutes or more. However, most relationships did not remain significant in adjusted models that controlled for early sleep problems.” Cosleeping after nighttime awakening remained associated with more than 15-minute delays in returning to sleep, while the mother’s presence at the beginning of sleep appeared protective against such delays.

The results support the notion that some parental behaviors develop in response to early sleep problems, the authors note. However, they also indicate that such parental behaviors could have negative effects. “Parental strategies that were effective for early sleep difficulties (e.g. giving food or drink) may later become inappropriate to the child’s age and needs. Mothers might adopt the inappropriate response of giving food or drink to 29- to 41-month-old children awakening (which is associated with bad dreams and shorter total sleep time at age 50 months) because they commonly attribute infant cries to hunger and come to believe that infants cry only when hungry,” the authors write.

“Our findings clarify the long-debated relationship between parental behaviors and childhood sleep disturbances,” the authors conclude. “They suggest that cosleeping and other uncommon parental behaviors have negative consequences for future sleep and are thus maladaptive.”

This last paragraph surprises me. My understanding, from my experience with both kids, and from reading the article, is that the real problem is that parents fail to adapt their behaviour as children get older. Cosleeping with infants is one thing, cosleeping with a toddler or young child is another. Parents need to remember that their kids needs change, sometimes very rapidly and it is important to be aware when a strategy is no longer working.

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Thursday, April 10, 2008

Groovy Joovy Caboose

You may remember my agonizing over double strollers before Zen Girl was born. We finally opted for the Graco Quattro Duo. Since Curious Boy was only 17 months old when his sister came along, this seemed like a good choice. Big wheels for winter, easy to attach a Snugride, big basket. Now that CB is older, heavier and can walk further, the traditional stadium double stroller is showing its weakness. In addition, it takes up most of the trunk in our 2006 Civic. The big wheels and stylized frame make the Duo heavy and a bit tough to steer.

With that in mind we recently picked up a Joovy Caboose. Its small and light, with one normal forward facing seat and jumpseat/platform for the older kid. Its cheap too. Curious Boy loves being able to stand when he wants, and we like being able to strap him in when we need to.

The low price has its drawbacks though. The handle doesn't adjust and the tray on the forward seat does not come off or on easily. In addition, the wheel bearings are cheap and the plastic used for the tray and forward footrest resemble nothing so much as polypropylene disposable plastic containers.

Joovy does make a Caboose Ultralight which comes in at 21 lbs compared to the regular 26lbs and more than twice the price. I hope that the higher price comes with better finishings.

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Monday, April 07, 2008

Whew.... where did I go? Sunshine Kids Radian Edition

Somehow, it's been weeks since I posted anything other than a product recall or food warning. One thing I've been meaning to talk about is our recent acquisition of two Radian car seats by Sunshine Kids Juvenile Products. As part of our ongoing effort to be the greenest family on the block, we resisted the temptation to get a bigger car when Zen Girl came along, opting to squeeze everything into our 2006 Honda Civic. The Radian, with it's steel frame and narrow profile allows us to put them next to one another and still have room for an adult (me) next to them. We could even fit three of the seats in the back of the car. The LATCH connectors are very easy to use, avoiding bloodied and bruised fingertips that used to come from taking the seats in and out.

The car seats also fold for easy transportation. I'm a huge fan of these seats.
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Monday, March 31, 2008

Baby Einstein Sleeper Recall

Here's another thing to add to the heap of bad things about Baby Einstein.

Baby Einstein Sleeper

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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

RECALL - Combi Infant Carriers

Health Canada has just issued a recall on the following Combi infant carriers:

Centre DX: 781395/981395, 789462/998047
Centre ST: 784850/991465, 784850S/991465
Cosmo ST Travel System: 714650/991465

Combi Infant Carrier
It seems that the bucket can become detached from the base, even during a "moderate" collision.

"Consumers who have completed and returned their registration card, or registered their infant car seat on-line at Next link will open in a new window Combi Company, will receive a repair kit free of charge. Those who have not registered their infant car seat should contact ISIS Inc., the importer of the Combi infant carrier, at 1-800-667-4111. Again, the infant carrier should not be used with the base until the repair kit is received. Consumers should not return the affected units to a retailer."

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Pangea Day

I've been attending TED vicariously and one  of the most inspiring ideas put forward is Pangea Day

From the TED blog

Actress Goldie Hawn is one of the many public figures around the world supporting Pangea Day, a project that was voiced as a "wish" by 2006 TED Prize winner Jehane Noujaim, when she wondered if it would be possible to create a "day when you have everyone coming together from around the world and sharing a communal experience of watching a film all together, all at the same time, from Times Square to Ramallah to the side of the Great Wall of China". That day is going to happen, on May 10, when four hours of programming -- films, user-generated videos, speakers, music, hosted by CNN's Christiane Amanpour -- will take place in several locations and broadcast by TV channels, shown on theatres, distributed over cell phones, streamed online, screened in village places and private homes all over the world. That's Pangea Day. Movies alone can't change the world: but the people who watch them can. "We will see sameness and not the differences", Goldie Hawn says. The Pangea Day website is here, with informations on hosting an event or finding one to attend, backgrounders, etc. The event will be globally supported by Nokia. (A side note: the picture on the Pangea Day homepage shows one of the greatest annual moments of cinematic communion in the world: the evening screenings on the Piazza Grande at the Locarno Film Festival in Switzerland, where up to 10'000 people gather to watch movies under the summer sky).

PangeaDay is an invitation to see things differently, to consider also the other's point of view. Here is an example, a video that's been produced for PangeaDay, based on the images of the famous scene of the unarmed young man carrying shopping bags who stood in front of the tanks on Tienanmen Square, on 5 June 1989, blocking them. The young man has remained anonymous. So did the soldier driving the tank.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Consumer Product Recall - Mary Had a Choking Hazard

Consumer Product Recalls

Recall Notice

Infantino  Lamb Grabby Rattle Date
March 2008

Product Name
Infantino® Lamb Grabby Rattle

Full Product Description
The recalled Infantino Lamb Grabby Rattles are shaped like a lamb with an Infantino elliptical-shaped logo stamped on the front right foot of the lamb. Only rattles with date code 0907 printed on the back of the left ear of the lamb are included in the recall. The production batch code is printed in a dial format with the year in the middle of a circle and an arrow pointing to the number on the circle that indicates the month. Rattles that do not have a date code are not included in the recall.

Hazard Identified
The plastic tail piece on the rattle can detach and pose a choking hazard to young children. Health Canada has not received reports of incidents or injuries with the product.

Corrective Action
Consumers are advised to immediately take the rattle away from children.

Infantino® can be contacted to receive a free replacement rattle.

For additional information, contact Infantino® toll-free at (888) 808-3111 between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. PT Monday through Friday, or visit the firm's Web site at: Next link will open in a new window Infantino Company

Number Sold
360 units sold in Canada

Time Period Sold
November 2007 to March 2008

Infantino LLC

Winners Merchants International LP


Infantino  Lamb Grabby Rattle

Infantino  Lamb Grabby Rattle


Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Consumer Product Recall - Cheap and Ugly Jewellery

Recall Notice

Children s Metal Jewellery Date
March 2008

Product Name
Children's Metal Jewellery

Full Product Description
The recalled necklaces include a cat with silver and pink rhinestones, a heart and lock with pink rhinestones, a silver coloured heart with a rhinestone crown, and a silver coloured lock and key. The necklaces hang from silver coloured chains.

The following pieces are part of this recall:
HA64- Cat Necklace (UPC: 039301460640)
HA108- Heart with Key Necklace (UPC: 039301461081)
HA109- Lock with Key Necklace (UPC: 039301461098)
HA110- Heart Necklace (UPC: 039301461104)

Hazard Identified
The children's necklaces contain high levels of lead. Lead is toxic if ingested by young children and can cause adverse health effects.

Health Canada has not received reports of illness or injury to Canadians related to the use of the recalled jewellery.

For more information on the risks and symptoms of lead exposure, visit Health Canada's:
Next link will open in a new window It's Your Health: Effects of Lead on Human Health

Corrective Action
Consumers should immediately take the recalled necklaces away from children.

Consumers may contact Pecoware for instructions on returning the necklaces for a full refund.

For refund and/or disposal information, consumers may contact Pecoware at (800) 456-7326 between 7:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. PT Monday through Friday.

Number Sold
Approximately 59 pieces were sold in Canada.

Time Period Sold
Sold at department and specialty stores nationwide from January 2006 through July 2007 (cat necklace), and from July 2007 through November 2007 (heart, heart and key, and lock and key necklaces) for about $13. Sold primarily in British Columbia and Ontario.

Pecoware Co. Inc., of Chino, Calif.


Children s Metal Jewellery

Children s Metal Jewellery



Response to Grace's comment

PD reader Grace left the following comment the other day:

i had just commented on a previous post regarding soy lecithin.... this is before i read the rest of your posts regarding MSPI. wow. thanks for all of your information and for sharing your journey. the letter to the ombusman was particularly frustrating.

my son is 3 months and have had occasional blood in his diapers. my appointment with the specialist is not until april and i called to see if i could at least speak with her. basically, she said that if the blood is occasional and he's growing ok, then we can just ignore the problem. i've actually cut dairy, soy, and eggs and i have still seen traces of blood occasionally. when i told this to the specialist, she said don't worry about eliminating it because ultimately, its not that harmful. if i want to see the blood stopped, i can switch to the formulas that you had mentioned.

since it seems that you and your family had such extensive experience, i just wanted to ask for your thoughts on that before i go in for the appointment to see whether i need to pursue it further, etc. how often did the blood occur and did it affect her behavior and weight significantly?

my baby had weight issues in the beginning and that was largely due to a poor latch. right now i'm giving him breastmilk through a bottle and he's been gaining fine.

any thoughts and advice would be greatly appreciated. again, i commend you and your wife for all that you've done.

Thanks for the great feedback Grace, it's wonderful to know that I've been able to help. We didn't see any weight issues with Zen Girl. We did notice some behaviour issues, but nothing serious (which caused some confusion considering how unhappy Curious Boy was). The blood was sporadic, and only in trace amounts.

My advice is as follows: if the specialist says not to worry, don't. Especially if your son is growing well and is happy. Going on a near-total elimination diet is very difficult, although it can be done - and we can help.

Have you also eliminated soya bean oil and soya lecithin? Those don't irritate kids as frequently, but can still be a concern. If you get pressure to switch to formula, try eliminating more stuff before changing tactics. Some MSPI kids react badly to the formula, and you can risk losing your milk supply.

You can always reach me privately to continue this talk at philosopherdad [at]

Good luck.
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MSPI: Comments and Updates

Philosopher Dad reader Grace just left a wonderful comment about her 3 month-old son who has MSPI. It reminded me that I haven't been keeping everyone up-to-date about how Zen Girl is doing.

Actually quite well, thanks.

Her diet now includes:
apples, peaches, pears, carrots, zucchini, squash, oranges, bananas, broccoli, chicken, cauliflower, turkey, lamb and prunes.

Yesterday we started barley. If you've been keeping score, you'll recall that we found blood in ZG's diaper after trying rice cereal in November. We haven't tried any carbs since.

Here's hoping.
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Sunday, March 02, 2008

Recall: Monsieur Tse-Tse Organic Doll

Recall Notice

Monsieur Ts  Ts Date
February 2008

Product Name
Monsieur Tsé-Tsé

Full Product Description
Organic Cotton Dolls

Hazard Identified
The metal eyes on the dolls can detach and pose a choking hazard to young children.

Corrective Action
Consumers are advised to immediately take the recalled dolls away from children.

The Monsieur Tsé Tsé dolls with metal eyes can be returned to the original place of purchase, or they can be returned directly to Raplapla Inc. for replacement with a doll with embroidered eyes.

Raplapla Inc. can be contacted by telephone at either: 514-660-5217 or 514-574-5217, or by e-mail at

Number Sold
Approximately 250 dolls were sold in Canada.

Time Period Sold
The dolls were sold from September 2007 to January 2008. They were sold primarily at independent boutiques in Montreal as well as in Toronto.

Raplapla Inc., Montreal, Quebec


Monsieur Ts  Ts

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Crib Recall

Recall Notice

Majestic Curved Top and Flat Top Cribs br  br     Essex Cribs br  br     Brighton Sussex Cribs br  br     Captiva Cribs

February 2008

Product Name

Majestic Curved Top and Flat Top Cribs

Essex Cribs

Brighton/Sussex Cribs

Captiva Cribs

Full Product Description

The cribs are wooden.

The recalled cribs include:

Majestic Curved Top cribs with model number 9500;

Majestic Flat Top cribs with model number 9000;

Essex cribs with model number 7100;
Brighton/Sussex cribs with model number 9100;

and Captiva cribs with model number 5100.

Only cribs with manufacture dates between November 1, 2005 and November 1, 2007 are included in the recall.

The crib model number is printed on the white label on the bottom
inside of the right side rail. The crib manufacture date is printed on
either the white label near the model number or on the white label
located on the bottom of the headboard.

Cribs with a green sticker on the mattress frame are not included in the recall.

Hazard Identified

The cribs fail to meet the federal safety requirements for cribs. The
four support brackets on the mattress support spring are too long. The
brackets prevent the spring from lowering to the full 26 inch minimum
height in its lowest position, allowing children inside to crawl over
the railing, posing a fall hazard.

Corrective Action

Consumers should stop using the recalled cribs.

Consumers may contact Munire Furniture to receive replacement spring brackets.

For additional information, consumers may contact Munire Furniture Inc.
at (866) 586-9639 between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. EST or visit the firm's Web
site at Next link will open in a new window

Number Sold

Approximately 500 units were sold in Canada.

Time Period Sold

Sold at specialty juvenile product stores nationwide from November 2005 through November 2007 for between $400 and $600.

Manufactured in Indonesia.

Munire Furniture Inc., of Piscataway, N.J


Majestic Curved Top and Flat Top Cribs br  br     Essex Cribs br  br     Brighton Sussex Cribs br  br     Captiva Cribs

Majestic Curved Top and Flat Top Cribs br  br     Essex Cribs br  br     Brighton Sussex Cribs br  br     Captiva Cribs

Majestic Curved Top and Flat Top Cribs br  br     Essex Cribs br  br     Brighton Sussex Cribs br  br     Captiva Cribs

Majestic Curved Top and Flat Top Cribs br  br     Essex Cribs br  br     Brighton Sussex Cribs br  br     Captiva Cribs

Majestic Curved Top and Flat Top Cribs br  br     Essex Cribs br  br     Brighton Sussex Cribs br  br     Captiva Cribs


Friday, February 29, 2008


Le texte français suit le texte anglais.


OTTAWA, February 28, 2008 - The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and Canada Safeway Limited are warning people with allergies to milk protein not to consume Safeway Crumpets. The affected crumpets  may contain milk protein which is not declared on the label.

The affected Safeway Crumpets, 6 count, in 264 g packages bear a lot code 0448 C and a UPC 0 58200 18492 1.

This product was distributed on or after February 13, 2008 in Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia and Northwest Territories.
There has been no reported illness associated with the consumption of this product.

Consumption of this product may cause a serious or life-threatening reaction in persons with allergies to milk protein.

Canada Safeway Limited, Calgary, Alberta is voluntarily recalling the affected product from the marketplace.  The CFIA is monitoring the effectiveness of the recall.

For more information, consumers and industry can call one of the following numbers:

Canada Safeway Limited at 1-800-SAFEWAY;

CFIA at 1-800-442-2342 / TTY 1-800-465-7735 (8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern time, Monday to Friday).

For information on milk protein, one of the nine most common food allergens, visit the Food Allergens web page at

For information on receiving recalls by e-mail, or for other food safety facts, visit our web site at

- 30 -

Media enquiries:

David Ryzebol
Canada Safeway Limited, Vice President Public Relations and Government Affairs

Fred Jamieson (English)
Canadian Food Inspection Agency
Food Recall and Emergency Response

Julie Lacoursière  (French)
Canadian Food Inspection Agency
Food Recall and Emergency Response

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Make your own Dishwasher Detergent

Phosphate free dishwasher detergents cost a fortune, even though they are made of very simple ingredients.

From comes this recipe for a DIY dishwasher detergent:

1 cup baking soda
1 cup borax
1/4 cup salt
1/4 cup citric acid (which can be bought at a winemaking store, or might even be available in the grocery store with canning products)

In addition, vinegar makes a great rinse agent instead of Jet Dry

If you make it, let me know what you think.
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Make your own Laundry Detergent

As part of our quest to reduce our family's exposure to harmful compounds, as well as use products that are less harmful to the environment, I've been looking for ways to make my own laundry soap. After hunting around a bit, I've found a simple enough recipe that I'm going to try this week.

1 cup of pure soap (like Sunlight) grated
1/2 cup washing soda (sodium carbonate)
1/2 cup borax (Careful handling this, it is an irritant and is slightly toxic).

This recipe is based on this Instructable.

If you try it, let me know how it goes.

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Friday, February 22, 2008

Tired and Rich? Call A Consultant. Tired and Broke.... Tough Luck

Zen Girl went through the night for the first time last night. It hasn't really been a problem though. Usually she just wakes up, eats and goes right back to sleep. The same was not true for Curious Boy. Scientific American Video has a story about a sleep consultant for hire in (where else?) NYC. More and more people are ready to drop $350 for a consultation. I probably spent that much on books.

Watch the video here.

For those of you in Montreal or elsewhere in Quebec, you can call the pediatric sleep clinic at Hopital St. Justine for a phone consultation (French only) at 514-345-4931
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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

More Bisphenol A News

The evidence that we are constantly exposed bisphenol A, and that this exposure is probably harmful keeps piling up.

How Plastic We've Become

Our bodies carry residues of kitchen plastics

Janet Raloff

In the 1967 film classic The Graduate, a businessman corners Benjamin Braddock at a cocktail party and gives him a bit of career advice. "Just one word…plastics."

Although Benjamin didn't heed that recommendation, plenty of other young graduates did. Today, the planet is awash in products spawned by the plastics industry. Residues of plastics have become ubiquitous in the environment—and in our bodies.

A federal government study now reports that bisphenol A (BPA)—the building block of one of the most widely used plastics—laces the bodies of the vast majority of U.S. residents young and old.

Manufacturers link BPA molecules into long chains, called polymers, to make polycarbonate plastics. All of those clear, brittle plastics used in baby bottles, food ware, and small kitchen appliances (like food-processor bowls) are made from polycarbonates. BPA-based resins also line the interiors of most food, beer, and soft-drink cans. With use and heating, polycarbonates can break down, leaching BPA into the materials they contact. Such as foods.

And that could be bad if what happens in laboratory animals also happens in people, because studies in rodents show that BPA can trigger a host of harmful changes, from reproductive havoc to impaired blood-sugar control and obesity (SN: 9/29/07, p. 202).

From Science News

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Sunday, February 17, 2008

Playing. Seriously

This weekend's NYT Magazine has a great article on the science and study of play.  It seems as though many of our intuitive ideas about why we play are disproved by research on both animals and humans.  The quest for a theory of play goes on.  Let the games begin.

On a drizzly Tuesday night in late January, 200 people came out to hear a psychiatrist talk rhapsodically about play — not just the intense, joyous play of children, but play for all people, at all ages, at all times. (All species too; the lecture featured touching photos of a polar bear and a husky engaging playfully at a snowy outpost in northern Canada.) Stuart Brown, president of the National Institute for Play, was speaking at the New York Public Library’s main branch on 42nd Street. He created the institute in 1996, after more than 20 years of psychiatric practice and research persuaded him of the dangerous long-term consequences of play deprivation. In a sold-out talk at the library, he and Krista Tippett, host of the public-radio program ‘‘Speaking of Faith,’’ discussed the biological and spiritual underpinnings of play. Brown called play part of the ‘‘developmental sequencing of becoming a human primate. If you look at what produces learning and memory and well-being, play is as fundamental as any other aspect of life, including sleep and dreams.’’

Read the article here

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e texte français suit le texte anglais.

The following alert was transmitted by Michelina's Canada to the news media on February 15, 2008.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is monitoring the effectiveness of the recall.



Toronto, February 15, 2008 -  Michelina's is voluntarily recalling Michelina's Avantage Wholesome Menu Bowl Sweet and Sour Chicken, and warning consumers with allergies to eggs not to consume the product. The affected product may contain egg which is not declared on the product label.

The following product is affected, Michelina's Avantage Wholesome Menu Bowl Sweet and Sour Chicken sold in 312g packages, and bearing UPC 7 17854 21622 7 and the embossed manufacturing code J7270 which can be found on the side panel of the packaging. No other Michelina's products are affected by this alert.

The affected product was distributed nationally.

Consumption of this product may cause a serious or life-threatening reaction in persons with allergies to eggs.

There have been no reports of illness associated with the consumption of this product. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has been advised and is monitoring the effectiveness of the recall.

Consumers who have purchased this product are asked to contact our Consumer Response Line at 1-800-568-5801 to arrange to have the product replaced, or return it to the store it was purchased for a full refund or product replacement.

For more information, consumers and industry can call the CFIA at 1-800-442-2342/TTY 1-800-465-7735 (8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern time, Monday to Friday).

For information on eggs, one of the nine most common food allergens visit the Food Allergens web page at For information on receiving recalls by e-mail, or for other food safety facts, visit the CFIA web site at

- 30 -

For further information:
Joel Spoonheim
Ph: 612-490-8890

Media enquiries:

Davendra Sharma (English)
Canadian Food Inspection Agency
Food Recall and Emergency Response

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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Bisphenol A Lit Review

I've been doing my homework on Bisphenol A exposure. It's not easy to sort out the wheat from the chaff, but I've made a lot of headway. After a lot of reading, it's clear that the jury is still out on how dangerous bisphenol A exposure really is. There are a significant number of animal studies that show serious health effects. The trouble is that animal models don't always correlate with humans, and that the doses in these studies are usually well above the levels considered safe for humans.

On a personal note, I've decided to err on the side of caution. We are being exposed to an ever widening range of contaminants, and our children are especially vulnerable. Some of the exposure is beyond our everyday control, so I think that it is important to mitigate what we can. In addition, history has shown us that we tend not be cautious enough in determining what safe exposure levels are. Just think about how the acceptable limits for lead exposure have changed in the past fifty years.

Below is a list of links that I have found informative. They present both sides of the argument.

Polycarbonate Plastic and Bisphenol A Release Information

Bisphenol-A, an Environmental Contaminant that Acts as a Thyroid Hormone Receptor
Antagonist in Vitro, Increases Serum Thyroxine, and Alters RC3/Neurogranin Expression in the Developing Rat Brain -- Zoeller et al. 146 (2): 607 -- Endocrinology

Urinary concentrations of bisphenol a and 4-Nonylphenol in a human reference population | Environmental Health Perspectives

Bisphenol-A: an estrogenic substance is released from polycarbonate flasks during autoclaving -- Krishnan et al. 132 (6): 2279 -- Endocrinology

Bisphenol A. (CASRN 80-05-7) | IRIS | US EPA


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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Recall Notice - Lead in Mexx Shoes

This one was kind of surprising....

Recall Notice

February 2008

Product Name
Mexx Kids brand shoes and sunglasses

Full Product Description
Boy's trekker shoe, #J1824F

Mini boy's trekker shoe (soft sole), #J1825F

Mini girl's shoe, #C1815F

Sunglasses, #CC925F

Hazard Identified
Mexx Kids items are being recalled due to their lead content. No complaints or injuries have been reported to date.

Lead is toxic if ingested by young children and can cause adverse health effects.

For more information on the risks and symptoms of lead exposure, visit Health Canada's:

Next link will open in a new window It's Your Health: Effects of Lead on Human Health

Corrective Action
Consumers are advised to discontinue use of these recalled items.

Customers may return these items to any Mexx store for a full refund by May 31, 2008.

Mexx will offer a $20 gift card to all customers returning these items.

Read the rest of the recall.

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Recall Notice - Lead in Spiral Skectchbook

February 2008

Product Name
Sketchbooks with Coloured Spirals

Full Product Description
The recalled children's sketchbooks have coloured spiral metal bindings, drawing paper, and cardboard covers in the following styles. "eeBoo" and the style name are printed on a sticker on the back cover.

See the rest of the recall
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