My day started as most days do, opening twitter and reading through news when I ran into this weird and horrible sounding headline:
Connecticut college student, who lost father in 9/11 attacks, dies three days after choking in charity pancake-eating contest
I'm sure you've ran into this story today it's all over the place.
My first, reaction was "Why are they linking this to 9/11?" the answer to that is that they talked about how tragedy has struck this family twice so I quickly got over that. The real horror started when you go past that. The article goes on to describe what happened to 20 year old social work major Caitlin Nelson and it sounds horrific:
Nelson went into convulsions Thursday night during the flapjack contest at the Greek Life charity dinner. Nelson, a junior at the school, ate four or five pancakes before she fell on the floor and started shaking uncontrollably, friends said.
This is the worst thing I've ever read and I truly feel like this is a tragedy. No joke here, just shock and fear. So I couldn't just leave it like that I had to know more. Other articles mentioned she had some allergies but there was no proof that allergies had any effect on her death so the next conclusion was that this death could be attributed to the fact that it was a contest so I looked up pancake eating contest related deaths. Believe it or not there are a couple incidents of pancake eating contest deaths, there's one in 2009 where a man started foaming at the mouth and fell to the ground and another one in 2015 where a young boy died after a pancake eating contest due to a severe allergic reaction. This took me back to the allergy path and I discovered something that has forever scarred me.
According to the National Library of Medicine:
Oral mite anaphylaxis is a new syndrome characterized by severe allergic manifestations occurring in atopic patients shortly after the intake of foods made with mite-contaminated wheat flour. This clinical entity, observed more frequently in tropical/subtropical environments, is more often triggered by pancakes and for that reason it has been designated "pancake syndrome"...
...Incriminated foods are usually prepared with wheat flour, including pancakes, sponge cakes, pizza, pasta, bread, parmigiana steak (prepared with contaminated grated bread), and white sauce. Pancakes are the foods most frequently involved (53.3% of our patients) and for that reason we proposed in 2001 the designation of "Pancake syndrome" for this clinical entity, a nomenclature recently supported by other investigators [13,17]
Other foods have also been found to induce OMA, including beignets, "okonomi-yaki" (bonito and mackerel covered with flour), cornmeal cakes made with a commercial mix containing wheat and corn flour, and polenta. Other foods that can be contaminated with mites when stored for long periods at room temperature are cheese, ham, chorizo, and salami
Ok so Mites. Grain Mites in wheat flour that jack up your internal system and can be in old pancake flour, beignets, cornmeal peaks, and chorizo?! Look I know it's not exactly that but still I'm shocked at what this is. Pasta?! Pasta that's stored at room temperature for a long time can get mites. Seriously go to your pantry and find the box of pasta that is inevitably back there, if it's 2 years old throw it out. Anyway let's go on..
Recently, we observed a 16-year-old girl with previous history of asthma, rhinoconjunctivitis, atopic dermatitis, and allergy to clams, who presented generalized itching, facial angioedema, and breathlessness when playing soccer 30 minutes after eating a lunch consisting exclusively of pancakes. Treatment in the emergency room consisted of intravenous corticosteroids, chlorpheniramine, and nebulized albuterol. After discharge, oral methylprednisolone, desloratadine, inhaled budesonide, and formoterol were given.
So you don't even have to be allergic to wheat or "gluten intolerant" to have these mites jack you up..but it's not all bad news.
We have observed mites in closed packages of wheat flour. Because the exposure to low temperatures inhibits mite proliferation and results in the transformation into protonymphal stages that are resistant to cold and do not reproduce actively, the recommendation has been made to store the flour in sealed containers in the refrigerator . Kasti et al also suggested to store them in sealed glass or plastic containers .
There you go people, store your flour in the fridge. Especially if you don't use it frequently.
I'm sorry for taking you down this rabbit hole with me I just couldn't keep this irrational fear to myself and I don't wanna be the only weirdo who asks the IHOP waiter "Is the flour refrigerated?" next I go to Free Pancake Day.