DEAR ABBY: I recently made a batch of pancakes for my healthy 14-year-old son, using a mix that was in our pantry. He said that they tasted "funny," but ate them anyway. About 10 minutes later, he began having difficulty breathing and his lips began turning purple. I gave him his allergy pill, had him sit on the sofa and told him to relax. He was wheezing while inhaling and exhaling.
My husband, a volunteer firefighter and EMT, heated up some water, and we had my son lean over the water so the steam could clear his chest and sinuses. Soon, his breathing became more regular and his lips returned to a more normal color.
We checked the date on the box of pancake mix and, to my dismay, found it was very outdated. As a reference librarian at an academic institution, I have the ability to search through many research databases. I did just that, and found an article the next day that mentioned a 19-year-old male DYING after eating pancakes made with outdated mix. Apparently, the mold that forms in old pancake mix can be toxic!
When we told our friends about my son’s close call, we were surprised at the number of people who mentioned that they should check their own pancake mix since they don’t use it often, or they had purchased it some time ago. With so many people shopping at warehouse-type stores and buying large sizes of pancake mix, I hope your readers will take the time to check the expiration date on their boxes. — SUE IN WYANTSKILL, N.Y.
DEAR SUE: Thank you for the warning. I certainly was not aware that pancake mix could turn moldy and cause an allergic reaction in someone with an allergy to mold — but it’s logical. I wonder if the same holds true for cake mix, brownie mix and cookie mix. If so, then a warning should be placed on the box for people like me.
We hear so often about discarding prescription and over-the-counter medications after their expiration dates, but I don’t recall warnings about packaged items in the pantry. Heads up, folks!
Reader Submitted by,
Lisa Klein from Cottage Grove, WI
This "Dear Abby" column was published in newspapers in April 2006. The story checks out. As Abby’s correspondent mentions, her son’s allergic reaction to the "funny-tasting" pancakes she fed him matches a case reported in the
September 2001 issue of the American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology in which a 19-year-old male with mold allergies died of anaphylactic shock after consuming pancakes made from an outdated mix.
Note that in both cases, the patient experiencing the attack had specific allergies pertaining to food molds.